We discussed the discovery of THC and the endocannabinoid system in part four of our series on scientific studies conducted on marijuana. You’ve all heard the familiar line, “Well, we haven’t studied marijuana enough to know whether or not it’s bad.” Malarkey. The point we’re trying to make is that we know plenty. Studies have been conducted all around the world for decades. Today, we’ll talk about the 1972 Shafer Commission Report.
President Richard Nixon once hand-picked a number of respected scientific experts to study the effects of marijuana. It lasted only two years. The result of the study? Not what you’d expect.
Part of the Shafer Commission read: “Criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use…It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.”
The thing about scientists is that they prefer facts over politics. The president replied by publicly attacking the findings of the report. Not surprisingly, the report was wholly ignored as far as the federal government’s policy on marijuana was concerned. It was Nixon himself who created the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to wage war on marijuana only a year later.
Among other things, the report flew in the face of everything the public thought it knew about cannabis users: instead of being aggressive or dangerous, the report suggested they were more likely timid and passive.
Members of the commission included Michael R. Sonnenreich; Dana L. Farnsworth, MD; Kentucky Representative Tim Lee Carter; President of Rockford University John A. Howard, PhD; Senators Harold E. Hughes and Jacob K. Javits; Representative Paul G Rogers; and psychiatrist J. Thomas Ungerleider, MD. There were several others involved in production.