Why is marijuana illegal while alcohol, which many argue is a more dangerous substance, remains legal?
That’s the gist of the question Steve Fox, co-author of Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? attempted to answer during a recent appearance on FireDogLake’s book salon.
Short answer: times are changing, attitudes are changing, and the pro-legalization movement has gained steam and entered the mainstream. For the longer answer, read on…
Marijuana has become mainstream. Breathless stories about it in TIME, Newsweek, and all major media outlets proclaim that it is either a potential savior of the economy, the scourge of teen development, or just a plant that happens to have a bad rap.
Regardless of the angle, weed has grown into the light of day and the public has become more conscious of it than ever, often finding that the current drug war set against it is cruel and unfair. A recent Gallup poll found that 44% of the US population wants marijuana to be legalized, the highest ever. Combine that with the explosion of the medical marijuana marketplace harming Mexican drug cartels, as well as the Obama administration offering a directive to stop prosecuting legally recognized marijuana dispensaries, and there is the potential for a dramatic sea change in the way the United States, indeed the world, deals with the green stuff.
Part and parcel of this new paradigm is getting people information. Enter Marijuana is Safer by Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert; each one an integral member of a drug policy reform organization, and their creds show. Part social examination, history lesson, and reform presentation, Marijuana is Safer makes the case for how different a world could be without the $60 billion a year drug war, most of which goes to eradicating marijuana from our society.
John Holowach October 25th, 2009 at 2:01 pm
Hey Steve, thanks for being here!
To start off, why did you and your fellow co-authors decide that this was the right time for a book like this? And also, what kind of impact do you think/hope it will have?
Steve Fox October 25th, 2009 at 2:10 pm
In response to John Holowach @ 2
With respect to the timing and our hopes about the impact, let me start by saying I think we really lucked out in terms of the timing. When Chelsea Green (our published) decided to go ahead with the book, there was not the wave of attention given to marijuana policy we see today. So it turns out that the timing was right, but we didn’t plan it that way.
This is actually a book more than five years in the making — at least from my perspective. I have been working on marijuana policy reform for seven years now and determined in about 2004 that we needed to educate the public about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol if we hoped to change our laws. I will go into that in more detail over the next two hours, but that is a quick intro.