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From: carlolsen@dsmnet.com (Carl E. Olsen)
Newsgroups: alt.hemp,alt.drugs,talk.politics.drugs
Subject: Indian Hemp Drugs Commission
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 22:57:16
Message-ID: 

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR THE REFORM OF MARIJUANA LAWS (NORML)
1001 CONNECTICUT AVENUE NW * SUITE 1010 * WASHINGTON, D.C. 20036
PHONE 202-483-5500 * FAX 202-483-0057 * E-MAIL NATLNORML@AOL.COM

* * * NEWS RELEASE * * *

First Large-Scale Marijuana Commission Report
Turns 100 Years Old
CONTACT:
   Tod Mikuriya, M.D., marijuana researcher/historian......................
     ......510-843-0279
   Matthew Atha, M.Sc., British drug abuse research consultant.............
     011-44-942-522-946
   Mike Goodman, Release (British anti-prohibition organization) director..
     011-44-71-729-5255
   Lester Grinspoon, M.D., Harvard Medical School professor................ 
     ......617-277-3621
   Eric Sterling, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation president.............
     ......202-835-9075

  November 1, 1994, marks the 100th anniversary of the Report of the Indian 
Hemp Drugs Commission (1893-94). This 3,281-page British 
government-commissioned report on marijuana consumption in India was the 
first large-scale study of the marijuana phenomenon. The commission's
purpose was to discover the actual effects of marijuana consumption on 
individuals and society and to determine the most appropriate governmental 
response. (Marijuana was legal at the time.)
  The study was perhaps the most extensive marijuana fact-finding mission 
to date. Evidence was collected from more than 1,000 witnesses, including 
medical officers, missionaries, and cultivators. The study was unique in 
another regard as a pre-prohibition study, the effects of the drug were not
confounded by the subjects' involvement with a criminal subculture.
  The conclusions in no way justify the current War Against Marijuana 
Consumers. The report's conclusions included the following:
  * Physical, Mental, and Moral Effects -- "[T]he moderate use of these 
drugs is the rule, and ... excessive use is comparatively exceptional. The 
moderate use produces practically no ill effects. In all but the most 
exceptional cases, the injury from habitual moderate use is not appreciable. 
The excessive use may certainly be accepted as very injurious, though it must 
be admitted that in many excessive consumers the injury is not dearly marked." 
[Volume I, page 264, emphasis added.]  * Societal Effects -- "[E]ven the 
excessive consumer of hemp drugs is ordinarily inoffensive. ... [F]or all 
practical purposes it may be laid down that there is little or no connection 
between the use of hemp drugs and crime. The injury done by the excessive use 
is ... confined almost exclusively to the consumer himself; the effect on 
society is rarely appreciable. ... [Facts] combine to show most clearly how 
little injury society has hitherto sustained from hemp drugs." [Volume I, page 
264,emphasis added.]  * Policy Recommendations -- "Total prohibition ... is 
neither necessary nor expedient. ... The policy advocated is one of control 
and restriction, aimed at suppressing the excessive use and restraining the 
moderate use within due limits." To these ends, the commission recommended 
taxationand licensing.

  Interestingly, the commission also warned of the possibility that 
prohibition may lead to the consumption of harder drugs, specifically by 
"driving the consumers to have recourse to other stimulants or narcotics 
which may be more deleterious." [Volume I, page 360, emphasis added.]
Sadly, this prediction has come true, as Marijuana Prohibition has 
indeed increased hard drug abuse.

Significance of the Anniversary                                 PAGE 2 OF 2

  "The centennial of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report is an occasion 
to seriously re-examine contemporary marijuana policy," explains Dr. Tod 
Mikuriya* "The conclusions reached predate by 100 years what we now consider 
to be model harm-reduction policies."
  Indeed, every major commission study of the past 100 years has also made 
recommendations against the complete prohibition of marijuana. Examples 
include: The Panama Canal Zone Military Investigations (1916-1929); Mayor's 
Committee on Marihuana, The Marihuana Problem in the City of New York 
("The LaGuardia Report," 1944); and National Commission on Marihuana and 
Drug Abuse, Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding ("Nixon-Shafer Report," 
1972).
  Nevertheless, governments around the world have consistently ignored the 
wisdom of the report and have instead opted for the counterproductive 
policy of Marijuana Prohibition.
  Ironically, another major commission study is set to commence next year. 
The recently enacted federal crime bill establishes a commission to be 
known as the "National Commission on Crime Control and Prevention." One of 
its task forces shall evaluate current drug control policies and make
recommendations regarding necessary improvements. [Congressional Record, 
Sunday, August 21, 1994, pages H8851-H8852.]
  NORML believes that it is time for society to stop ignoring the evidence. 
According to NORML National Director Richard Cowan, "The centennial of this 
report reminds us of two very important points: (1) Marijuana has not always 
been illegal. This is a 20th century aberration like its contemporary -- 
communism. (2) When marijuana is freely available, as it is in Holland today, 
there will be benefits to society -- not just to marijuana consumers -- while 
prohibition costs everyone."  Matthew Atha, M.Sc., a British drug abuse 
research and information consultant, expressed a similar frustration. 
"Governments should start looking at the facts rather than exploiting emotions 
and myths," he said.  It is noteworthy that even the British government 
continues to ignore its own report. "Regrettably, the government is not 
prepared to take action to stop the criminalization of millions of British 
cannabis smokers," said Mike Goodman, director of Release (the 27-year-old 
British anti-prohibition organization).

Medicinal Marijuana Implications ...
  The Indian Hemp report also concluded: "[T]he occasional use of hemp in 
moderate doses may be beneficial; but this use may be regarded as medicinal 
in character." [Volume I, page 264.] Yet one hundred years later, the U.S. 
government rigidly adheres to its policy of arresting patients who use
marijuana for medicine. This must stop!

  November 15, 1994, is National Medical Marijuana Day. Patients, doctors, 
health care providers, and other concerned citizens will demonstrate in 
front of the White House and other government offices throughout the nation 
to make the simple plea for compassion, "Stop Attesting Sick People!" 
(Contact NORML for more information about the event, and contact Dr. Lester 
Grinspoon for more information about medicinal marijuana. [Dr. Grinspoon is 
an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author 
of Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine.])
* Tod Mikuriya, M.D., is a private practice psychiatrist and marijuana 
researcher/historian. A former marijuana program director for the National 
Institute of Mental Health (1967), Dr. Mikuriya has studied the entire 
3,281-page Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report.
  Dr. Mikuriya will chair an Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report Centennial 
panel at the Drug Policy Foundation's 8th International Conference on Drug 
Policy Reform. The panel will feature marijuana historian Michael Aldrich, 
Ph.D., economics and drug policy specialist Dale Gieringer, Ph.D., and 
CityUniversity of New York pharmacology professor John Morgan, M.D. The panel 
will convene on Saturday, November 19, 1994, from 2:15-3:45 p.m., at Loews 
L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, Washington, D.C.