REEFER MADNESS: The History of Marijuana in America by Larry Sloman

REEFER MADNESS: The History of Marijuana in America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sloman isn't about to take a back seat to his subject: he conspicuously writes himself into his interviews (""Sloman tried another tack"" or ""Sloman was incredulous""). If any name crops up more often than his, it's Harry Jacob Anslinger's--and with it everything anyone might want to know about the McCarthy of the marijuana menace, who headed the Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962. Sloman piles transcript on transcript, neither methodically nor divertingly but very convincingly, to demonstrate Anslinger's chameleon opportunism. The Commissioner's last laugh--persuading an inattentive Congress to sign an irrevocable UN treaty that just may loophole legalization of pot out of the picture--was only superseded by his first boomerang: every murderer who'd ever smoked the devil weed was pleading criminal insanity, capitalizing on one of the Chief's pet contentions. Allen Ginsberg, remembering how different his early marijuana experiences were from the prevailing Bureau line and how he therefore mistrusted the Government on all fronts, makes a sound case for the connection between pot and politics; in other chapters, Sloman talks to the man who gets grass from Uncle Sam to control his glaucoma, an amoral smuggler who gets high on the risk, the National Organization to Reform the Marijuana Laws, a houseful of suburbanites whose success is supposed to prove that pot doesn't reduce achievement-motivation. . . . One way or another, hash.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1978
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill