Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics

By Rudolph J. Gerber | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

In Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics, Judge Rudy Gerber recounts the sorry history of how criminalizing the use of a medically useful and essentially harmless plant has justified the erosion of our constitutionally guaranteed liberties: the suppression of political dissent, the oppression of the races, the condemnation of nonwhite art and artists, and the denial of a life-enhancing medicine to the ill and infirm.

It is a tale of sociopolitical pathology in which a solid core of conservative voters and their political representatives support policies that lack any rational social or economic justification. As Judge Gerber points out, every legitimate study of marijuana’s physical and mental effects on humans has shown that it is the drug of choice for alleviating the symptoms of a host of illnesses, especially the treatment of pain and nausea. It is impossible to overdose on marijuana, it is not addictive, one does not develop a tolerance, so dosages do not need to be increased, and no deaths can be attributed to marijuana as are linked to alcohol and tobacco— deaths by accident or by respiratory ailments. Reported deaths from tobacco average 400,000 a year, from alcohol 50,000, and from marijuana, zero.

The political pathology has been particularly marked in the three presidents before the millennium—Reagan, Bush the elder, and Clinton, who shared a drug-induced ethical poverty. In spite of the fact that four presidential commissions convened to study marijuana and found it a relatively harmless narcotic and the drug of choice for several ailments, each of them declared it a dangerous drug requiring Schedule I status. By dint of a clever advertising campaign to sell Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say NO to Drugs,” Reagan and Bush managed to scam Americans into believing that

-ix-

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Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Legalizing Marijuana - Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Introduction xv
  • 1: History of Demonizing Drugs 1
  • 2: Presidential Pot Policies 17
  • 3: Enforcement Practices 61
  • 4: Health Effects 77
  • 5: Seeds of the Medical Marijuana Movement 91
  • 6: The People’s Counterattack 105
  • 7: The Medical-Legal Conflict 121
  • 8: Conclusion: Lessons in Political Unscience 135
  • Notes 155
  • Bibliography 173
  • Index 183
  • About the Author 189
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