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.
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