The Le Dain Commission Report - 1973

(a.k.a. "The Report of the Canadian Government Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs")

Final remarks from The Le Dain Commission regarding cannabis:

[this text is an excerpt from this page]

222. In the short time during which the full report has been available to us, we have not been able to prepare, at this interim stage, a thorough critical analysis of the document. However, the following quotations, taken from the summary of conclusions regarding the effects of hemp drugs, provide an overview of the findings:

It has been clearly established that the occasional use of hemp in moderate doses may be beneficial. In regard to the physical effects, the Commission have come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs, is practically attended by no evil results at all. There may be exceptional cases in which, owing to idiosyncrasies of constitution, the drugs in even moderate use of hemp drugs in even moderate use may be injurious, excessive use does cause injury. As in the case of other intoxicants, excessive use tends to weaken the constitution and to render the consumer more susceptible to disease … the excessive use of these drugs does not cause asthma. . . it may indirectly cause dysentery ... (and) it may cause bronchitis.

In respect to the alleged mental effects of the drugs, the Commission have come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs produces no injurious effects on the mind.... It is otherwise with the excessive use. Excessive use indicates and intensifies mental instability... It appears that the excessive use of hemp drugs may, especially in cases where there is any weakness or hereditary predisposition, induce insanity. It has been shown that the effect of hemp drugs in this respect has hitherto been greatly exaggerated, but that they do sometimes produce insanity seems beyond question.

In regard to the moral effects of the drugs, the Commission are of opinion that their moderate use produces no moral injury whatever. There is no adequate ground for believing that it injuriously affects the character of the consumer. Excessive consumption, on the other hand, both indicates and intensifies moral weakness or depravity. . . . In respect to his relations with society, however, even the excessive consumer of hemp drugs is ordinarily inoffensive. His excesses may indeed bring him to degraded poverty which may lead him to dishonest practices; and occasionally, but apparently very rarely indeed, excessive indulgence in hemp drugs may lead to violent crime. But for all practical purposes it may be laid down that there is little or no connection between the use of hemp drugs and crime.

Viewing the subject generally, it may be added that the moderate use of these drugs is the rule, and that the excessive use is comparatively exceptional. The moderate use practically produces 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 clearly marked. The injury done by the excessive use is, however, confined almost exclusively to the consumer himself; the effect on society is rarely appreciable. It has been the most striking feature in this inquiry to find how little the effects of hemp drugs have obtruded themselves on observation.

As noted earlier in this chapter, any generalizations from one culture to another must be made with great caution. In this instance, extrapolation to the present Canadian situation would have to span three-quarters of a century as well. In spite of these clear limitations, the thoroughness of this critical inquiry commands respect and the report deserves careful consideration.

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Le Dain Commission
Le Dain Commission Report (section on cannabis)

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