Grass Roots

Grass Roots

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America

Book - 2017 | First edition.
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How earnest hippies, frightened parents, suffering patients, and other ordinary Americans went to war over marijuana

In the last five years, eight states have legalized recreational marijuana. To many, continued progress seems certain. But pot was on a similar trajectory forty years ago, only to encounter a fierce backlash. In Grass Roots , historian Emily Dufton tells the remarkable story of marijuana's crooked path from acceptance to demonization and back again, and of the thousands of grassroots activists who made changing marijuana laws their life's work.

During the 1970s, pro-pot campaigners with roots in the counterculture secured the drug's decriminalization in a dozen states. Soon, though, concerned parents began to mobilize; finding a champion in Nancy Reagan, they transformed pot into a national scourge and helped to pave the way for an aggressive war on drugs. Chastened marijuana advocates retooled their message, promoting pot as a medical necessity and eventually declaring legalization a matter of racial justice. For the moment, these activists are succeeding -- but marijuana's history suggests how swiftly another counterrevolution could unfold.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780465096169
Branch Call Number: 362.29509 DUFTON
Characteristics: 311 pages ; 25 cm


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Andrew Kyle Bacon
Mar 03, 2020

I grew to appreciate and like this book more and more as I went. When I picked it up, I sought a fairly even-handed approach to the history of marijuana in America. What I found was a book that seemed staunchly pro-marijuana and it was off-putting; however, as the book develops and moves through the various phases of the history, the voice in which the author writes shifts to reflect the viewpoint of whomever she is writing about at the time. This means that during the very pro-legalization phases, she writes from the perspective of people who are pro pot, and during the anti-legalization phases, she writes from the opposite perspective. All in all, I think this was the even-handed work that I wanted, and should I need to research the topics further, I will return here for information. That said, the book is dreadfully dull in most places, which is the only reason I knocked it down from 4/5 to 3.5/5.

My thoughts on the pro-legalization movement are only just beginning to form, but I will say this: the prohibition of marijuana has caused a powerful black-market to develop around the substance, meanwhile hurting our country from a tax standpoint, and causing otherwise innocent people to be thrown in jail. For these reasons, even if I am in general against the recreational and casual use of marijuana, I am for a strong hand of decriminalization or outright legalization. This opinion is somewhat unpopular in the circles I run, but it is what it is. The war on drugs has benefited no one except the pharmaceutical companies, and if the companies which caused the opioid epidemic are against the legalization of cannabis, then that is a strong indication that I should consider being for it.


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