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What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report. Three men from the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse sit in studio, Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich takes calls and answer the questions of journalists on the findings in the Commission report. (Shafer Commission) Syracuse NY

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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Opening. Panel in studio.

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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Nixon talking to press about marijuana and the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse and the legalization of marijuana.

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. Commission meeting. Chairman makes a statement to the camera. The recommendation of the Commission in its first report is a discouragement policy toward the use of marijuana in the United States today, but that we do not feel that private use or private possession in one s own home should have the stigma of criminalization, that people who experiment or use there, should not be criminalized for that particular behavior. With reference to public use or public responsibility, when under the influence of marijuana, then the criminal act applies. During the partial prohibition period of alcohol, it was legal to drink alcohol in your own home, but it wasn t legal to go out and buy it. It wasn t successful because there was not a massive campaign mounted by our culture to discourage use. And secondly they were attempting to take away a sanction or approval that society had already given this particular substance. We don t want that to happen to marijuana. We don t want the sanction or approval to be given to this psychotropic substance and then later on to find perhaps, as we have with nicotine or with other products, that it shouldn t have been done.

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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Three men from the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse sit in studio, Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich. They will take calls from around the country give introduction. Give general overview of the tasks and purpose of the Commission.

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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Raymond Philip Shafer outlines the policy recommendations reached by the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. List of Federal Recommendations; 1 Possession for personal use no longer a crime, 2 Non-profit distribution of small amounts shall no longer be a crime, 3 Marihuana in public is contraband and is subject to seizure, 4 Marihuana intoxication no defense to crimes committed while under its influence. State Recommendations: 1 Private possession for personal use no longer a crime, 2 Private non-profit distribution of small amounts is no longer a crime, 3 Marihuana in public is contraband and is subject to seizure, 4 Public possession of more than one ounce for public use is a crime. Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth defines types of marijuana users, Experimenters, Intermittent Users, Moderate Users, Heavy Users, Very Heavy Users. Findings show that maryjane does not incite the user to violence. They cannot determine if it affects someone s ability to drive, however driving while on marijuana should be considered quite risky. Concludes that users will encourage their friends to use and try harder drugs.

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich outlines other recommendations made by the Commission: better state and federal statistics, increased police training, tighter border surveillance, eradication of domestic production, uniformity of state laws, restored confidentiality in doctor - patient relationships, research to detect presence of marihuana in blood, breath and urine, increased research on long term effects, reconsideration of international obligations concerning marihuana, define marihuana separately from narcotics , single federal drug information source, evaluate existing drug education materials.

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: I m wondering about your feelings for those people already in prison for either simple marijuana possession or simple sale of marijuana. Both of these are felonies in Texas, one of the few states where it is a felony. Shafer is sure that any decisions made will have a retroactive effect. Citizens must follow the law, however if they disagree with the law, they should try to get it changed. Caller: This is concerning marijuana smokers who are juveniles, would a teenage pot party in a private home be illegal under your recommendations? Shafer: Our recommendation is to discourage use by everyone Commission wants to put responsibility on the institutions which can best handle it, the family, the church, the school, etc. then allow law enforcement to direct their attention on the supply. Caller: Do you feel that a politician will win or lose votes by supporting the panels recommendations? Shafer states the commission has tried to take the matter out of the political realm so that it would not be a partisan matter. It should be treated as a public health issue.

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: If we assume that the recommendations are adopted and its OK to have marijuana in the home, presumably then it would be OK to have a marijuana seed, and probably OK to plant the seed and grow a marijuana plant in your own home. Then should we gather that it would be OK to smoke that plant, and if that s so wouldn t it be better to have people grow their own pot in their own homes then to go out and continue trafficking with the criminal sources? Shafer states that the commission recommendations do not extend to growing in your home, that would still be under the criminal sanctions. Caller: Many people believe that the partial decriminalization of marijuana use that you re recommending is the first step in eventually even the laws that your commission is proposing will be relaxed. There is even some suspicion that some of the members of your commission might have favored a total decriminalization, but that it wasn t politically possible or feasible at this time. Can you comment on that? Shafer states that that assumption is incorrect. They do not want legalization. Caller: You do make reference in the report to possible change in these recommendations in the future if the feeling is that the dominant social view towards marijuana changes and if the scientific research failed to turn up any sort of harm. Shafer does say that anything is possible to change due to future research.

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: First I wondered if President Nixon has responded yet to the commission recommendation. Shafer states that Nixon has not made any response. Caller: The commission will probably be criticized for inconsistency in making marijuana legal in the home contraband in the car, say going from the point of getting marijuana to the home. For that interim period that drug would be illegal. Would you comment on this please? Shafer states that he feels they may receive criticism, but they have told the truth. Caller: Once we start with a more relaxed policy concerning marijuana, in connection with the policy of social disapproval, the process will be very difficult to reverse and likewise what happens if it doesn t work? Shafer states that she is assuming that the American public won t be able to make a wise choice on their own. Caller: Do you think that this policy will give young people more respect for the law then they have had in the recent years? Shaffer: Yes, I certainly do.

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: What else do you believe will be necessary, other than publicizing this report to convince those you believe marijuana is a threat to the cherished American values and therefore should be kept in total prohibition. Shaffer believes in open discussion on the issue. He has seen the beginning of a change in attitude in the country and they need to continue telling the truth about marijuana in order to inform people. Caller: What is your comment to the minority report, to the effect that the commission has failed to set forth a clear enough standard which will adequately info the public of their obligations in these recommendations if they are enacted by the state? Shaffer emphasis that this was a unanimous report on the basic recommendations. There were footnotes, but no minority reports. Farnsworth comments that he believes that any solution will see some degree of disagreements. Marijuana is likely to cause people to disagree. There is no easy solution, but this should serve to elevate the level of the debate. Shaffer adds that they are a commission to recommend policy, they do not get into specifics, but they are following the language of the law.

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: Dr. Farnsworth, the commission report makes it clear that the use of marijuana is greatest among young people, although it adds the interesting fact that 75% of these young people are no longer in school, one gathers that most of the use of marijuana begins in the school years, and even in the early school years, if I remember correctly, you have not looked with approval on the use of marijuana particularly by young people. If you would tell us, what in the studies done by the commission have changed your mind about the seriousness of the use of marijuana by young people? Second how much initiative to you think schools should take in refusing to allow their students to smoke marijuana? Farnsworth says that his enthusiasm for marijuana has been limited all along. On the other hand the occasional use of marijuana does not do any physical harm and may not do any psychological harm, but on the other hand it does not help the individual. So Farnsworth s general opinion does not differ much from what it has been over the years. Mainly the decision of the commission is that the laws are unenforceable. Caller: Would you say something about the fact that the commission is returning some of the responsibility to the institutions rather than expecting the law to carry it all. Farnsworth says that the schools and colleges need to have discussions about the true meaning of its use. The idea exists that some of the attraction to marijuana is the fact that it is illegal, by decriminalizing it, they should take away some of its attraction. Schaffer feels that schools do need to take the lead in helping young people to have all the fact, which will help their discouragement policy.

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: In view of the Commission s anti-marijuana position, especially as it relates to the discouragement of the use of drugs, why didn t the Commission go on record as totally opposing marijuana? Schaffer states that the discouragement policy is much better than prohibition. They found that the current possession policy has little functional benefit in discouragement and has great social cost. Also, the truth gives the individual the right to make personal choices. Finally discouragement gives a more effective way of dealing with the problem. Other countries emphasis the family as the control for drug abuses. Caller: The Commission seemed the outline the no harmful effects in the moderate use of marijuana. But doesn t this glamorize or encourage the use of weed rather than deter the use of it? Farnsworth mentions Brill s Law Bad laws do not make a good drug. He points out that the facts point to few short term effects but they do not know about the harm caused by marijuana in the long term. Since they do not have this information, they cannot formulate opinions on the basis on information that is not scientific.

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: I m curious to know what information you developed that led to believe for certain that marijuana is causatively related to motivation problems. At one point in your report you said that there are many reasons that people in the United States may be getting alienated which have nothing to do with drugs. At another point you said you couldn t prove anything from foreign experience. Then in a rather tortured paragraph you suddenly said there is a causal relationship. What s the evidence? Farnsworth says that colleagues involved with moderate marijuana use find that their efficiency is reduced and when they stop their efficiency returns. Also observations from multiple sources show that marijuana diminishes motivation. Caller: The other question I have is this problem of motivation and severe incapacitation, according to your report relates to a very small minority of people, perhaps 2% of the United States. Do you have any idea about the cost of law enforcement? What arguments can you give that those costs are worth it? Shafer replies, We feel that the cost of law enforcement with respect to the private possession penalties is much too high, in relationship to the results obtained. We feel those costs should be much more readily directed toward the pusher, the trafficker, the supply. Caller: If marijuana were not now illegal and if we did not have the tremendous amount of misinformation in the general public that your report demonstrates, would you be in favor of making it illegal, if we were starting from scratch. Schafer replies that from what we know now, he would take no different stance from the report.

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: It seems that in a first reading of the report, it glosses over the increasing evidence claimed by many that marijuana is the opening wedge ( gateway drug ) into the drug subculture, not necessarily a stepping stone for its use, but an introduction to the mysticism and the other dangers. Schafer claims that the effects of marijuana ingestion do not lead to experimentation with other drugs, but a person using any psychotropic drug like marijuana or alcohol seems to have an inclination toward using other drugs. "Some of our most serious addicts started out smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, started out on amphetamines... Once a person decides to use any one substance, there is a tendency toward multiple drug use." Caller: Isn t there a conflict in allowing private use of pot in a home, isn t that going to encourage the younger children to see the whole drug scene as socially approved? Farnsworth comments that we are NOT encouraging use, simply decriminalizing. Younger children may see that older people immersed in the drug culture are not doing well.

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: "Most of what we've tried in drug abuse education has really been brainwashing. You do what we think you should do. Most of the institutions we use, the church, the family, are not effective in influencing young people any longer." Schafer says that their recommendations will help educators, families, and churches, to present honest and credible information to young people about marijuana, advice that kids will see as helpful and realistic, not authoritarian mind control. Farnsworth makes another comment on the harsh laws of drug possession. There will always be disagreement on policy.

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: National Commissions have been making reports on major problems in the country for a number of years. Mainly they ve gathered dust on shelves. What are you and the commission going to do to influence state officials, Congress and the President to accept your recommendations and to push for the legislations to make them law. And secondly, I m curious as to why you spent 30 minutes with President Nixon last night and did not discuss the substance of the report. Why didn t you use that time to push the recommendations on the President. Schafer says that the Congressional members of the Commission have volunteered to sponsor the bill. As far as the Commission is concerned, we have sighted the facts and made our recommendation and the American people must read and analyze them. Reports that are factual are followed. President and I spoke for some time, but he is waiting for the President has a chance to read it.

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Chairman The Honorable Raymond Philip Shafer, Vice Chairman Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., and Executive Director Michael R. Sonnenreich take phone calls from reporters. Caller: Will you have a chance to get back to the President and talk to him about the report personally? And secondly, I m intrigued as someone who covered the initial hearings of your commission and who listened to some of the questions by members of the commission to people who had suggested some of the same things that you have recommended. The change I have noticed over the year in the position of the commission. What has happened to the members of the commission and how can we translate this information to the American public? Schafer agrees that he has learned a lot about the field and many people in America will receive better information. Many preconceived notions were dispelled. Michael R. Sonnenreich comments that the President was aware that marijuana was a special issue and the President knew that there would be education on the subject.

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Schafer makes a conclusion. " Considering the range of social concerns in contemporary America, marijuana does not in our considered judgment rank very high".

What To Do About Marijuana: The Shafer Report

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