Demonization, Legalization, and the Evolution of U.S. Marijuana PolicyClayton J. Mosher and Scott Akins
More and more states are legalizing marijuana in some form. Moreover, a majority of the U.S. population is in favor of legalizing the drug for recreational use. In the Weeds looks at how our society has become more permissive in the past 150 years—even though marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug by the American government.
Sociologists Clayton Mosher and Scott Akins take a deep dive into marijuana policy reform, looking at the incremental developments and the historical, legal, social, and political implications of these changes. They investigate the effects, medicinal applications, and possible harms of marijuana. In the Weeds also considers arguments that youth will be heavy users of legalized cannabis, and shows how “weed” is demonized by exaggerations of the drug’s risks and claims that it lacks medicinal value. Mosher and Akins end their timely and insightful book by tracing the distinct paths to the legalization of recreational marijuana in the United States and other countries as well as discussing what the future of marijuana law holds.
“In the Weeds masterfully profiles decades of government propaganda that sought to misinform the American public about marijuana. Mosher and Akins use a variety of sources to fact-check that information campaign, while highlighting the negative impact it has had on vulnerable segments of American society. By weaving together medical, scientific, and social scientific research with media and policy analysis, this book serves as an invaluable resource in understanding the societal damage of the War on Drugs.”
—John Hudak, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
“Mosher and Akins’s In the Weeds accomplishes much. It’s a useful primer for the long history of marijuana in the United States, as well as a deep dive into the myriad policy changes that have brought us from the period of ‘reefer madness’ in the 1930s to the widespread acceptance of legalization today. The authors address the potential hazards of the drug, but nonetheless make it clear where their sympathies lie, particularly in their work to dismantle myths of cannabis demonization perpetuated by individuals, organizations, and federal agencies. A useful book for those wondering, ‘How did we get here?’”
—Emily Dufton, author of Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America
"In the Weeds reviews the current climate of cannabis policies in the United States.... It presents arguments from both sides of the issue — such as the theory that kids are more likely to abuse weed when it’s legal — and goes in-depth on institutions that drive prohibition today like the Drug Enforcement Administration. The last two chapters of In The Weeds are particularly useful." — Big Buds Magazine
"Relying on an eclectic mix of scholarly and non–peer-reviewed sources, sociologists Clayton Mosher and Scott Akins provide a historical account of the demonization of cannabis and the evolution of cannabis policy reform in the US over the last 100 years. The authors begin by examining changing cannabis use patterns, demonstrating how the gradual mainstreaming of cannabis has played a significant role in shaping cannabis policy reform. A review of the social, political, and legal history of cannabis follows, with an emphasis on medical and scientific studies and their interpretation by various political administrations....
(T)his is a significant contribution to the literature on cannabis and cannabis policy. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
"(A) helpful and timely primer on the policies and polemics that have shaped the cannabis legal landscape in the United States.... Its full discussion of key themes used to demonize cannabis is a major strength.... It is a great addition to academic literature intended for students of criminology, criminal justice, drug policy, and substance use and abuse.... The book’s discussion of policy is strong.... (It) fills an important gap for including cannabis policy in the college curriculum. As a succinct introduction to the irrational cannabis policies we have inherited, this is a very useful book."
— Social Forces
" (An) excellent book.... Mosher and Akins combine medical and social scientific research with the most up‐to‐date reporting on the implementation of marijuana policies to provide a compelling overview of cannabis policy in the United States.... The authors provide a masterful overview of the current state of medical and recreational policies in U.S. states and other countries.... I would recommend this book to scholars of public policy and anyone interested in understanding how the demonization framework stimulates our country’s current drug policy debates."
— Political Science Quarterly
"In the Weeds takes on the political, cultural, economic, and public health dimensions of marijuana’s complicated history, distilling it into a short and readable book.... It is both an argument for empirically grounded policy and a curated reference that surveys the current state of medical, public health, and behavioral research on marijuana. In the Weeds straddles the line between a book that is for academic and lay audiences. It is written in a way that is accessible to the general public while also providing fodder for social scientists interested in studying the marijuana industry or using this context as a point of comparison. This makes the book an enjoyable read."
"The (authors') scope is impressive: they manage to digest hundreds of reports and research studies, making them accessible to the average reader. They also trace and identify the moral crusaders on both sides of marijuana decriminalization and legalization debates, providing great context for the demonization themes and distortions that have persisted. The book ultimately provides a good reference for understanding the history and motivations of various policies over time."
—Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books