Legalization of Marijuana

August 9, 1967

Report Outline
Marijuana's Impact on American Youth
Use and Control of Hazardous Drugs
Controversy Over Dangers of Marijuana

Marijuana's Impact on American Youth

Appeal of Drug Among Today Young People

Youth defied the world with gin in the Twenties, and now in the Sixties the new thing is grass, pot or, as the uninitiated call it, marijuana. It is not, of course, a new thing at all—this drug from the Indian hemp plant which has a hundred names in every language and a place in recorded history for thousands of years. Aside from alcohol, it is the drug most often used by man in his search for escape from life's tensions. But among American young people today, marijuana is something new—the subject of much talk and increasing experimentation—a symbol of defiance and independence. One college administrator comments, “Kids are rebelling against adult norms. They think they are more rational and realistic than their parents, and smoking marijuana is one way to prove it.”

In spite of almost daily warnings on the dangers of the drug, the word has got around that marijuana is the mildest and safest of the “psychedelic” or so-called “mind-expanding” drugs, which include LSD and other new synthetic chemical combinations. The user will not become physically addicted, as does the heroin user or the alcoholic, and he will not run the risk of “going out of his mind” in the bizarre and dangerous fashion of the LSD user. Psychotic reactions are not unknown among marijuana users, but they seem to occur among those who are already disoriented and not in the case of the average user.

A noted authority on the drug, Alfred Lindesmith, assessing the attraction of marijuana, says: “Its pleasures do not fade as do those of opium with continued use. …Its pleasurable effects are not counterbalanced by the extensive social and physical consequences which ordinarily bedevil heroin addicts. If pleasure is the key to addiction, marijuana should be the prime drug of addiction, far ahead of either opium or alcohol, but it is not. In fact, it is generally conceded to be a non-addicting drug.” It would seem that marijuana offers the drug seeker satisfaction without serious risk, but many users are discovering that that assumption is wrong. Marijuana is an illicit drug. Its use, sale or possession is a federal offense carrying severe penalties.

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