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January 5, 1995
LaGuardia Report Turns 50:
Massive Marijuana Study Found
Dangers Highly Exaggerated
|Contact:||NORML Board Chair Lester
Harvard Medical School professor -- 617-277-3621
January 11,1995, will mark the 50th anniversary of the public release of The Marihuana Problem in the City of New York: Sociological, Medical, Psychological and Pharmacological Studies ("The LaGuardia Report"). The study was commissioned by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1938 in order to discover the truth about marijuana, which had been hastily prohibited a year earlier.
The study was completed in 1944, published by Jaques Cattell Press (Lancaster, PA), and released to the public in early 1945. "Its findings revealed that marijuana's harmful effects had been greatly exaggerated," explained NORML National Director Richard Cowan. "The report's conclusions demonstrate that the War Against Marijuana Consumers has been a fraud from its beginning."
The massive research project was carried out by a team of scientists from the New York Academy of Medicine and the commissioners of the New York Departments of Correction, Health, and Hospitals. It was the most thorough, extensive marijuana fact-finding mission since the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission released its monumental report in 1894.
The LaGuardia Report was comprised of a series of studies -- from sociological observations to controlled, scientific studies involving the consumption of marijuana by subjects in a laboratory setting. Among the report's conclusions:
In sum, the report stressed, "The publicity concerning the catastrophic effects of marihuana smoking in New York City is unfounded." The depth and thoroughness of the study make these conclusions relevant beyond 1940s New York.
The LaGuardia Report provided invaluable descriptive data and dispelled many of the myths which led to the prohibition of marijuana. Nevertheless, it was essentially ignored and had virtually no effect on the burgeoning national policy of prohibition.
The January 12,1945, New York Times article "Experts Discount Marijuana as Big Factor In Crime but Drive on It Will Be Pressed" reassured a frightened public that marijuana would remain outlawed. Every large-scale study done over the last century has arrived at the same conclusion; all have been ignored.
Of course, prohibitionists have played an active part in making sure that the reports are ignored. Today they claim that marijuana is now so much stronger than it was in the past that it is virtually a different drug, rendering all previous conclusions useless. For example, the December 26 U.S. News and World Report blamed a rap album for promoting marijuana "20 times stronger than grass of the past" ("Kids and Marijuana: The Glamour is Back," p. 12). In actuality, potency has not substantially increased over the past 20 years. (A report on marijuana potency is available from NORML.)
OVER 9 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 ... ANOTHER EVERY 2 MINUTES!