Principles of Responsible Marijuana use

At NORML, we believe that marijuana smokers, like those who drink alcohol, have a responsibility to behave appropriately and to assure that their recreational drug use is conducted in a responsible manner. Neither marijuana smoking nor alcohol consumption is ever an excuse for misconduct of any kind, and both smokers and drinkers must be held to the same standard as all Americans.

The NORML Board of Directors recently issued the following
statement entitled "Principles of Responsible Marijuana Use,"
which defines the conduct which we believe any responsible adult
marijuana smoker should follow.

Marijuana consumption is for adults only. It is irresponsible to provide cannabis to children. Many things and activities are suitable for young people, but others absolutely are not. Children do not drive cars, enter into contracts, or marry, and they must not use drugs. As it is unrealistic to demand lifetime abstinence from cars, contracts and marriage, however, it is unrealistic to expect lifetime abstinence from all intoxicants, including alcohol. Rather, our expectation and hope for young people is that they grow up to be responsible adults. Our obligation to them is to demonstrate what that means.

The responsible marijuana consumer does not operate a motor vehicle or other dangerous machinery impaired by marijuana, nor impaired by any other substance or condition, including some medicines and fatigue. Although marijuana is said by most experts to be safer than alcohol and many prescription drugs with motorists, responsible marijuana consumers never operate motor vehicles in an impaired condition. Public safety demands not only that impaired drivers be taken off the road, but that objective measures of impairment be developed and used, rather than chemical testing.

The responsible marijuana user will carefully consider his/her set and setting, regulating use accordingly. "Set" refers to the consumer's values, attitudes, experience and personality, and "setting" means the consumer's physical and social circumstances.
The responsible cannabis consumer will be vigilant as to conditions -- time, place, mood, etc. -- and does not hesitate to say "no" when those conditions are not conducive to a safe, pleasant and/or productive experience.

Use of marijuana, to the extent that it impairs health, personal development or achievement, is abuse, to be resisted by responsible cannabis users. Abuse means harm. Some marijuana use is harmful; most is not. That which is harmful should be discouraged; that which is not need not be. Wars have been waged in the name of eradicating "drug abuse", but instead of focusing on abuse, enforcement measures have been diluted by targeting all drug use, whether abusive or not. If marijuana abuse is to be targeted, it is essential that clear standards be developed to identify it.


The responsible marijuana user does not violate the rights of others, observes accepted standards of courtesy and public propriety, and respects the preferences of those who wish to avoid marijuana entirely. No one may violate the rights of others, and no substance use excuses any such violation. Regardless of the legal status of marijuana, responsible users will adhere to emerging tobacco smoking protocols in public and private places.

~~~ Return to Station# 19

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