Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding
National Commission on Marihuana (1972).
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Description: First edition, 184 pages.
Note: This report is commonly known as the "Shafer Commission Report." See
next entry. A Signet paperback edition is also available.
Excerpt(s): This Report
"Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding" is an all-inclusive
effort to present the facts as they are known today, to demythologize
the controversy surrounding marihuana, and to place in proper
perspective one of the most emotional and explosive issues of
our times. (Raymond P. Shafer, Chairman, page iii)
Citizens concerned with health issues must consider
the possibility of marihuana use leading to use of heroin, other
opiates, cocaine or hallucinogens. This so-called stepping-stone
theory first received widespread acceptance in 1951 as a result
of testimony at Congressional hearings. ... When
the voluminous testimony given at these hearings is seriously
examined, no verification is found of a causal relationship between
marihuana use and subsequent heroin use. (page 88)
The nation's churches play a major role in the process by which
society's norms and values are transmitted to the young. Moral
education, through individual and family counseling by church
personnel, is influential in the process of social control, particularly
for adolescents. Consequently, the Commission sought to learn
the attitudes, responses and recommendations of the clergy.
The larger societal uncertainty about the social
and moral implications of marihuana use is also reflected in the
attitudes of religious institutions. For example, Dr. Thomas E.
Price, speaking for the National Council
of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. before the Commission,
referred to marihuana as a "tightly drawn moral knot."
This uncertainty has led many religious groups to minimize a punitive
and repressive response to marihuana use in their official statements
and formal programs. Instead, they have concentrated on educational
and rehabilitative programs.
Many church spokesmen have urged a reconsideration
of social and legal policy. The range of their suggestions for
change reflects, once again, widespread uncertainty. Some ask
for some form of "adequate" punishment or supervision
so as to discourage marihuana use. Others say "reform or
elimination" of penalties for possession would be appropriate.
And there are those who suggest legalization with some government
regulation. Some church spokesmen have defended existing policy,
recommending only that the law be more strictly and
uniformly enforced. (page 119)
The Commission recommends only the following
changes in federal law:
POSSESSION OF MARIHUANA FOR PERSONAL USE WOULD
NO LONGER BE AN OFFENSE, BUT MARIHUANA POSSESSED IN PUBLIC WOULD
REMAIN CONTRABAND SUBJECT TO SUMMARY SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE.
CASUAL DISTRIBUTION OF SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIHUANA
FOR NO REMUNERATION, OR INSIGNIFICANT REMUNERATION NOT INVOLVING
A PROFIT WOULD NO LONGER BE AN OFFENSE. (page 152)
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