Top critical review
A GOOD START THAT GETS BOGGED DOWN
September 6, 2009
While I agree with the idea that motivated this book, the legalization of marijuana, I'm not sure I agree with the books argument that people resort to alcohol because "there is nothing else" and, that because of that fact, we see all the mayhem caused by alcohol in our everyday lives.
Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, Mason Tvert and Norm Stamper have certainly done their research. Without a doubt, this reader (though convinced beforehand), agrees with their findings that the short-term and long-term effects of Marijuana are nothing when compared to drinking "booze" as they like to call it. Where my viewpoint deviates from theirs is when they suggest that legalization of marijuana would provide a safer alternative to people looking for something to calm them down, party with, or a host of other recreational uses.
Yet, this is a book review, not a debate...so...
For someone who knew little about the origins, types, chemistry, effects etc of " marijuana", this book is a great primer. The varieties of plant, along with their strengths (or weaknesses), the deliberate breeding and uses is very interesting. As are the studies, both by governments and NGOs as to the short and long-term effects of marijuana use. They've had ample time to study and I'd be hard pressed to disagree with their findings.
So far, so good. When the authors get into the arguments for the legalization of marijuana, they sound a little less like rational, point-for-point, educators or lobbyists, after a while. Their overuse of emphasis and exclamation points end up giving us a "and would you believe....oh the SHAME of it" kind of feeling, coupled with their obviously derogatory view on alcohol of any kind, resorting to name calling or labeling of things they don't agree with, ends up making the second half of the book a cross between a call to action pamphlet and an angry manifesto.
It's unfortunate, because Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, Mason Tvert and Norm Stamper are obviously intelligent and articulate writers. Their arguments are sound, but their reliance on the marijuana-versus-alcohol argument rather than giving marijuana it's own platform to stand on, send this book into what I'm sure will be the long-list of "liberal" or "hippy" writings and not a serious discussion. Perhaps a few changes and a different title and cover might help their cause.
I know that this detracts from the point of some of their arguments and the premise of the book: that alcohol is worse than marijuana but people don't have a choice. But the authors are hoping for a result that will see the legalization of marijuana. Comparing it to alcohol is not the answer.
Three stars because there are parts of the book that are a genuine education and worthwhile reading.