Shafer Commission

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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. 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. The report was ignored by the White House, but is an important document against prohibition.

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 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 criminalisation to discourage use. It compared the situation of cannabis to that of alcohol.[1]

The conclusions from the Shafer commission met resistance. There were hearings in the congress in 1974 in a subcommittee led by senator James O. Eastland with a number of expertise on cannabis from different countries. The subcommittee's report concluded:

...five years of research has provided strong evidence that, if corroborated, would suggest that marijuana in various forms is far more hazardous than originally suspected. [2]

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

Members[edit]

Michael R. Sonnenreich served as Executive Director of the Commission.[4]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]