cover image This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America

This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America

Ryan Grim. John Wiley & Sons, $24.95 (264pp) ISBN 978-0-470-16739-7

Admitting that ""so much has been written on drug use and American culture that it would take weeks to roll all of that paper up and smoke it,"" journalist Grim plunges into the counterculture, the literature, the research, the opposition, the pharmaceutical interests, the media coverage, the kids and users, the heroes and the hypocrites to chart the evolution of drug use in America, covering every illegal high, taking on well-entrenched myths and turning up fascinating stories on current trends-beginning with the end of LSD. Backed by plenty of startling facts (i.e., 1984's drug-related criminal population was 30,000; by 1991 it was more than 150,000), Grim fashions a sharp critique of anti-drug programs (""exposure to anti-drug ads led to higher rates of first-time drug use among certain groups, such as fourteen-to-sixteen year olds and whites"") and other policy decisions (President Clinton's approval of NAFTA led to an unprecedented influx of drugs across the Mexican border). Grim isn't all talk, however: he barely survives on-site research during drug riots in Bolivia, goes through a typically fraught trip on ayahuasca, and scouts the battlefields of the fight to legalize cannabis (""In San Francisco, pot clubs quickly outnumbered McDonald's franchises""). This lively, personable history should strike fans of Martin Torgoff's Can't Find My Way Home as a worthy follow-up.