July 7, 1975


JAMA. 1975;233(1):79-80. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260010081033

"MARIHUANA is no more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes and should be legalized for anyone over the age of sixteen." So declared Margaret Mead in 1968. Ever since, similar statements have been made with increasing regularity by others who wish to see the use of marihuana legalized, or at the very least "decriminalized."

And yet, in that same year, 1968, a joint statement was issued by the Committee on Drug Dependence of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, and the American Medical Association, stressing the following points:

  1. Cannabis is a dangerous drug and a public health concern. In virtually all societies where it has been extensively used, sanctions against both users and distributors have been necessary.

  2. Legalization of marihuana would create a serious abuse problem in the United States.

  3. Penalties for violations of marihuana laws are too harsh. They should therefore be modified to penalize