Public Health.

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Section 6. Public Health.

DAWN statistics indicate that marijuana does not present enough of a significant danger to public health to be considered a schedule I drug, as reflected by emergency room visits per capita and the inadequacy of the drug in contributing to suicide.

HHS asserts that youths who use marijuana ought to realize that their marijuana use will make them end up like all drug users, standing in line for emergency medical services.

The connection of marijuana use to the use of other illegal drugs, known as the gateway theory, is considered by its creator as a descriptive association, not a prediction of illegal drug use on the part of marijuana users.

Alcohol and tobacco are the first drugs used by school aged use, and it is likely that problem alcohol drinking occurs between marijuana use and the use of other illegal drugs in those individuals who do use other illegal drugs.

Social scientists believe the policy implications of their study of teenage drug use is that prevention policies must aim to delay the age of first use of drugs by school aged youths. Individuals who try marijuana for the first time after age 20 rarely if ever use other illegal drugs.

Marijuana users are not a homogenous group. Marijuana use is not a predictor in of itself of anything, and there is no research indicating that marijuana use is necessarily an indication of any underlying emotional or psychological deficit or syndrome.

The variables that most explain teenage use of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are availability and prior use.

Many common factors associated with the use of drugs by school aged youths have little if any correlation with teenage drug use in well constructed research studies, including (a) substance use by parents, (b) personality traits, (c) intelligence (d) social personality traits, (e) parental relations, (f) affect, (g) participation in structured activities, (j) self-esteem, (k) general values, (l) school performance, (m) stress management skills, (n) non-peer, non-family attitudes about drug use, (o) church attendance, (p) availability, (q) academic expectations, (r) drug use by extended relatives, (s) drug use by siblings, and (t) socioeconomic status.

Social science research provides empirical evidence to support the assertion that marijuana has a low potential for abuse unsuited for schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act. A recent convergence between pharmacology and behavioralism lend support to a theoretical model evaluating the effects of drug, set and setting on the use of drugs. Self administration is an indication that drug plays a predominant role among those three variables; the lack of self-administration in the case of marijuana, supported by the empirical social data, supports the assertion that in regards to marijuana abuse, set and setting play a more important role than the pharmacological substance itself.

Discussion of public health policies based on longitudinal studies of drug use includes consideration of harm-reduction policies which would require the end of marijuana’s schedule I status to succeed.

References Cited in Section 6.

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Bachman, J.G., Johnston, L.D., O’Malley, P.M., “Explaining the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use: Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 31:173-184, 1990.

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Kandel, D.B., Logan, J.A., “Patterns of Drug Use from Adolescence to Young Adulthood: I. Periods of Risk for Initiation, Continued Use, and Discontinuation.” American Journal of Public Health. 74:660-666.

Kandel, D.B., Yamaguchi, K., “From Beer to Crack: Developmental Patterns of Drug Involvement.” American Journal of Public Health. 83:851-855, 1993

Kandel, D.B., Yamaguchi, K., Chen, K., “Stages of Progression in Drug Involvement from Adolescence to Adulthood: Further Evidence for the Gateway Theory.” J. Stud. Alcohol 53: 447-457, 1992.

Nahas, G., Frick, H.C., Brill, H., Drug Abuse in the Modern World: A Perspective for the Eighties: An International Symposium Held at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. (New York: Pergamon Press,) 1981.

Nahas, G., Keep Off The Grass — 5th rev. and enl. ed. (Middlebury, VT: P.S. Eriksson,) 1990.

O’Malley, P, Bachman, J., Johnston, L., “Period, Age and Cohort Effects on Substance Use Among American Youth, 1976-82.” American Journal of Public Health. 74:682-688, 1984.

Robins, L., “The Natural History of Substance Use as a Guide to Setting Drug Policy.” American Journal of Public Health. 85(1):12-13, 1995.

Shalala, D. “Remarks by Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Drug Abuse Surveys Press Conference” (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Sec., HHS,) December 12, 1994.

U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News. 91st Congress — Second Session, 1970. Vol. 3. Legislative History. Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 [P.L. 91-513]. pg. 4566 – 4657.

U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment Technologies for Understanding and Preventing Substance Abuse and Addiction, OTA-EHR-597 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office,) September 1994.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (1994) “Advanced Report number 7, Preliminary Estimates From the 1993 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.” (Rockville, MD: Office of Applied Studies,) July 1994.

Yamaguchi, K., Kandel, D., “Patterns of Drug Use From Adolescence to Young Adulthood: II. Sequences of Progression.” American Journal of Public Health 74:7, July, 1984.

Yamaguchi, K., Kandel, D., “Patterns of Drug Use From Adolescence to Young Adulthood: III. Predictors of Progression.” American Journal of Public Health. 74:7, July, 1984.