GRASS ROOTS by Emily  Dufton


The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America
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A comprehensive history of marijuana legalization in America.

In a book based on doctoral dissertation research on marijuana activism, writer and drug historian Dufton puts years of dedicated research, interviews, and social scrutiny to impressive use in this cannabis saga. Aside from a wealth of factual data, the legalization activists’ movement supports the framework of her chronicle. The author charts the roots of the marijuana movement back to the mid-1960s when a San Francisco–based grass-roots cannabis activist “politely asked to be arrested for smoking pot,” an offense that happened to be a felony in California at the time. His action, and its ensuing media coverage, spurred countless others to take up the cause and fight for change. The battle, spearheaded in part by poet Allen Ginsberg, became a fiercely political movement, with marijuana activists asserting that the current legislation was unconstitutional. Dufton notes that it was the organization and mobilization of pot advocates and their spirited rallies that turned the tide on the drug’s journey toward acceptance and normalization. With the 1970 formation of pro-marijuana group NORML and major decriminalization efforts celebrating great strides, marijuana activists were too euphoric to foresee the fearful, parent-fueled counterrevolution spearheaded by Nancy Reagan. The author’s astute, well-rounded report spotlights the virtual tug of war of the movement and pays close attention to each side’s setbacks and advancements. She presents an engrossing, evenhanded timeline of the marijuana legalization revolution and its backlash, including the 2012 legalization laws inspired by Robert Randall, who sued on a medical necessity defense after being arrested for possession. The final section, drawn from Dufton’s numerous interviews in the field, highlights six crucial lessons activists learned from their experiences promoting marijuana rights, including keeping a sensible perspective on the movement’s progress, respecting the opposition, and recognizing the power and the importance of money. The author hopes emphasizing these positives and pitfalls will galvanize future advocates in their work.

A lively, perceptive refresher course on the politics of pot.

Pub Date: Dec. 5th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-465-09616-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2017


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