Chapter Four Official Reports

All the reports produced by the various government research commissions since 1894 agree that the use of cannabis does not lead to drug addiction, has no negative biological effects, is not a preliminary stage on the way to use of other mind-affecting substances, and is not a factor in crime.

1. Government and Scientific Commissions

In the last decade of the nineteenth century, alarmed by the spread of cannabis use among the British occupation forces in India, the British government appointed a group of scientists, the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, to investigate the biological and social effects of cannabis use.

The Commission's report was published in 1894, an unprecedented 3,281-page, seven-volume scientific document whose conclusions have repeatedly been confirmed by investigations conducted since. After a thorough investigation of all aspects of the subject, the authors of the report concluded that:

1) Occasional use of cannabis can be beneficial.

2) Moderate use of cannabis has no negative effects.

3) Moderate use is the rule, abuse the exception.(158)

Ever since 1894, all the official reports compiled by state-funded scientific organisations and by various government-appointed commissions studying mind-affecting substances have confirmed the conclusions of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report.

They are thus redeeming cannabis in the minds of the scientific community and the general public after the long smear campaign conducted by the combined interests of the state and the major capital invested in such industrial sectors as petroleum products, paper, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco, and the drug `black market'.

The most interesting of the numerous official government reports on cannabis and other mind-affecting substances are:

1894 United Kingdom: The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report
Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission

1924 United Kingdom: Addiction (Rolleston Committee's Report)
Report of the Departmental Committee on Drug Addiction

1944 United States: La Guardia Report
Report of the New York Mayor's Committee on `The Marihuana Problem in the City of New York'

1961 United Kingdom: Drug Addiction
Report of the Interdepartmental Committee (First Report).

1964 United Kingdom: Drug Addiction (Brain Committee's Report) Report of the Interdepartmental Committee (Second Report).

1968 United Kingdom: Cannabis (Wootton Committee's Report)
Report of the British Government's Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence

1970 Canada: Interim Report (Le Dain Report)
Report of the Canadian Government's Commission of Inquiry into Non-Medical Use of Drugs

1971 United States: Marihuana and Health
Report of US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (First Annual Report to Congress).

1972 United States: Marihuana and Health
Report of US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Second Annual Report to Congress).

1972 The Netherlands:
Report of The Netherlands Government's Commission on Drugs

1972 Canada: Cannabis
Report of the Canadian Government's Commission of Inquiry into Non-Medical Use of Drugs

1972 United States: Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding (Nixon Report)
Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.

1972 United States: Licit and Illicit Drugs (159)
Report by the US Consumers' Union

1973 United States: Marihuana and Health
Report of US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Third Annual Report to Congress)

1974 United States: Marihuana and Health
Report of US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Fourth Annual Report to Congress)

1973 United States: Drug Abuse in America: Problem in Perspective
Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

1974 United States: Eastland Report
Report of the US Senate's Commission on Drugs(160)

1976 Australia: On Drugs
Report of Australian Government's Advisory Committee on Drugs (161)

1977 United States: Chronic Cannabis Use
Report by the New York Academy of Sciences

1977 United States: The Marihuana Issue: Report from NORML
Report by the US Drug Abuse Council

1982 United Kingdom: Treatment and Rehabilitation
Report of the British Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs

1982 United States: Marihuana and Health: Evaluation of Past Studies
National Academy of Sciences

1982 United Kingdom: Prevention
Report of British Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs

1986 European Community: On the problem of narcotics in the countries of the EC
Report of the Examining Committee of the European Parliament.

1986 Greece: On the Government's Draft Law on Drugs
Report of the Special Committee of the Medical Association of Thessaloniki

1988 United Kingdom: AIDS and Drug Misuse
Report of the British Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs

1992 European Community: On the spread of organized crime in the EC
Report of the Examining Committee of the European Parliament

These reports agree that the use of cannabis:

1) Is not addictive.

2) In moderation has no adverse biological or mental effects (even when it is abused, the effects of cannabis use fall far short of the effects of alcohol and tobacco use).

3) Has no causative connection with the use of addictive substances (it is not a preliminary stage on the way to the use of other mind-affecting substances, and the so-called `escalation theory' is therefore groundless).

4) Is not a factor in crime.

 

2. The European Parliament

FIRST REPORT (1986) The conservative report produced by the Examining Committee of the European Parliament On the problem of narcotics in the countries of the European Community (chaired by Jack Stewart-Clark) (162) had this to say about cannabis in 1986:

(Paragraph 34): Cannabis is by far the most commonly used mood altering drug. Two forms are available: Marihuana, which is prepared from the dried leaves and flowering tips of the Cannabis plant and Hashish, which is made from the dried resin of the plant. Cannabis is usually smoked in a roll-up cigarette, the effects tend to be mild and pleasant, giving a sense of relaxation. Most users come to no harm in smoking Cannabis. It is by no means proven that people who smoke Cannabis are bound to go on to Heroin. Whilst most Heroin users state they have previously smoked Cannabis, most Cannabis users state they have no intention of going on to Heroin. There is, however, a danger when Cannabis is mixed with other drugs such as Crack and PCP.

(Paragraph 119): The case for or against the legalisation of Cannabis is much more evenly balanced. In the first place, we know that in countries such as Holland, where the consumption as opposed to the marketing of Cannabis is allowed, consumption has not risen significantly. It is also claimed that the psychological problems connected with those illegally consuming the drug have disappeared. Against this, many people will claim that Cannabis is a stepping-stone to hard drug use. We are not convinced that this has been proven, since it is unrealistic to start from the argument that most Heroin users started by using Cannabis. It is equally true that the vast majority of those who have smoked Cannabis have never turned to Heroin or Cocaine. It can even be argued that by making the smoking of Cannabis illegal and making strenuous efforts to keep it off the streets, less distinction is made between soft and hard drugs and because of this and the scarcity factor, Cannabis users will be more inclined to turn to heroin. Nonetheless, we believe that there are other arguments against the legalisation of soft drugs. Firstly, there is illogicality in making Cannabis legal to consume but illegal to import. This is what the Dutch do. Secondly, the trade in Cannabis is still conducted by the criminal organisations. Thirdly, we know that there are stronger varieties of Cannabis being grown and the possibilities of mixing this drug with chemical substances such as PCP can be lethal.

(Paragraph 120): We are, however, strongly of the view that a clear distinction needs to be made in the treatment of Cannabis users. Whilst the drug should not be made legal, equally police and legal authorities should be encouraged to take a relatively lenient view of the Cannabis user unless it can be shown that he is involved in supplying the drug in significant quantities to users. At the same time, the trafficker in Cannabis needs to be pursued, as more often than not he is the same person who is dealing also in Heroin or Cocaine.

SECOND REPORT (1992) Rather more realistic than the previous one, the report produced by the Investigating Committee of the European Parliament On the spread of organized crime linked to drugs trafficking in the member States of the European Community (chaired by Patrick Cooney) included an impressive list of recommendations designed to defend the European Community against the triple threat inherent in "drug dependence, repression, and organised crime".(163)

As far as the recommendations are concerned, of particular interest is paragraph 16 of Part I of the report, which points out:

In the future an improved differentiation between drugs (from their origin to their effects) will be necessary in order to investigate better and more specific ways of dealing with the drugs problem in its variety on the three levels: supply, trafficking and demand. Such a differentiation between hard and soft drugs and correspondingly between natural, cultivated and industrialized manufactured drugs might read as follows:

1) ULTRA-HARD DRUGS: Heroin, Crack

2) HARD DRUGS: Morphine, Cocaine, Phencyclidine, Methadone, Pethidine

3) MEDIUM-HARD DRUGS: Amphetamines, Barbiturates, LSD, Psylocybin, Mescaline, Chemical solvents, Absinth

4) MEDIUM-SOFT DRUGS: Opium, Hashish, Khat, Coca, Tobacco, Alcohol (distilled)

5) SOFT DRUGS: Cannabis, Alcohol (fermented), Peyotl, Hallucinogenic mushrooms, Codeine, Tranquillizers.

6) ULTRA-SOFT DRUGS: Tea, Coffee, Chocolate

This classification demonstrates the need for a single health policy, based on epidemiological, toxicological and pharmacological factors, for all drugs, irrespective of their legal status.(164)

 

 

158 The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report (1894).

159 E. Brecher, Licit and Illicit Drugs (1972).

160 Chaired by Sen. Eastland.

161 Drug Survival News (Jan.-Feb. 1978) and The Journal (April 1978).

162 The report was approved by the fifteen-member committee on 22 September 1986, with 8 votes for, 4 against, and 1 abstention (2 members were absent).

163 The report was approved by the fifteen-member Examining Committee on 29 November 1992, with 9 votes for and 6 against (all those who voted against belonged to the committee's conservative wing). In April 1993, the report was presented for discussion at a plenary session of the European Parliament, but the European MPs belonging to the conservative parties took steps to have the discussion postponed.

164 European Parliament, Report (1992), pp.8-9