Shafer Commission

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Shafer Commission
Raymond P. Shafer

The Shafer Commission, formally known as the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, was appointed by U.S. President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s.[1] Its chairman was former Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer. The commission issued a report on its findings in 1972 that called for the decriminalization of marijuana possession in the United States.[2] The report was ignored by the White House, but is an important document against prohibition.[3]

While the Controlled Substances Act was being drafted in a House committee in 1970, Assistant Secretary of Health Roger O. Egeberg had recommended that marijuana temporarily be placed in Schedule I, the most restrictive category of drugs, pending the Commission's report. On March 22, 1972, the Commission's chairman, Raymond P. Shafer, presented a report to Congress and the public entitled "Marihuana, a Signal of Misunderstanding," which favored ending marijuana prohibition and adopting other methods to discourage use. The report was republished as a Signet Books New American Library paperback in 1972.[4]

The Commission's report said that while public sentiment tended to view marijuana users as dangerous, they actually found users to be more timid, drowsy and passive. It concluded that cannabis did not cause widespread danger to society. It recommended using social measures other than criminalization to discourage use. It compared the situation of cannabis to that of alcohol.[5]

The Commission's proposed decriminalization of marijuana possession was opposed, in 1974, by the recommendations of a congressional subcommittee chaired by Senator James Eastland.[6]

The Nixon administration did not implement the recommendations from the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.[3] However, the report has frequently been cited by individuals supporting removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.[7]



  1. ^ Downs, David (April 19, 2016). "The Science behind the DEA's Long War on Marijuana". Scientific American. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  2. ^ United States National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (1972). Marihuana: a signal of misunderstanding. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. OL 17346935W.
  3. ^ a b Graham, Fred P. (February 13, 1972). "National Commission to Propose Legal Private Use of Marijuana". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2022. President Nixon said, "Even if the commission does recommend that it be legalized, I will not follow that recommendation."
  4. ^ Clayton, Richard R; Sloboda, Zili; Page, Bryan (Winter 2009), "Reflections on 40 Years of Drug Abuse Research: Changes in the Epidemiology of Drug Abuse", Journal of Drug Issues, 39 (1): 41–55, doi:10.1177/002204260903900105, S2CID 70592481
  5. ^ "Drugs And Social Responsibility". Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  6. ^ Marihuana-hashish epidemic and its impact on United States security: hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-third Congress, second session [-Ninety-fourth Congress, first session] .. ,1974
  7. ^ "Nixon Commission Report Advising Decriminalization of Marijuana Celebrates 30th Anniversary". NORML. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  8. ^ Drug Use in America: Problem in Perspective: Second Report. Ardent Media. 1973. ISBN 978-0-8422-7239-1.

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