Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



All present indications point to an increase in marihuana use throughout the United States. Twenty-five years ago, the drug was found almost exclusively among the working class and minority groups, but the present trend has been toward increased use among people in the middle and upper income and social strata of society. As a result of this trend, the "marihuana problem" is gaining wide-spread prominence. More and more individuals, especially youth,are being subjected to the severe penalties associated with possession and use of marihuana. Not only are people becoming more aware of the legal punishments, but existing facts as to the effects of marihuana are being brought to public attention with greater frequency. Nevertheless, there remains a great gap between the known facts and risks and reputed facts and risks. As is the case with other dangerous drugs, existing knowledge concerning such matters as the effects of marihuana on the individual, the types of persons who use it, and the relationship of use to crime is confused and incomplete. There is, however, sufficient information to warrant, if not require, a review of the existing system of control. Before making such a review, it must be recognized that the programs, laws and recommendations based on existing knowledge maybe of little value unless they stem from an objective analysis based upon accepted medical knowledge rather than an emotional reaction stemming from misinformation. The purpose of this note is to present the realities of marihuana generally with the hope of dispelling some unfounded myths which have been created and accepted by the majority of the public; it will examine the current method of prohibiting the use of marihuana and will then present what is believed to be a more realistic approach to the problem.