Marijuana Nation: One Man’s Chronicle of America Getting High: From Vietnam to Legalization

Roger Roffman. Pegasus (Norton, dist.), $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-60598-546-6
In this nuanced book, Roffman’s personal story intertwines with the raucous, contradictory history of cannabis since the 1960s. As a young social work officer in Vietnam, he counsels war-traumatized, self-medicating soldiers; challenges the military’s hard line against mental health issues and marijuana; smokes his first joint; and conducts studies on soldier drug use, a study commissioned and then suppressed by the army. As a graduate student at U.C.-Berkeley, he experiences the transcendent sensuality of getting high, develops a decriminalization policy, and questions his beliefs when confronted with skeptical recovering heroin addicts and his brother’s drug abuse. And throughout his career as an academic in Seattle (he is a professor emeritus of social work at the University of Washington), as he becomes a prominent promoter of decriminalization and an illicit marijuana provider to cancer patients, gives up pot-smoking, and sets up a counseling program for marijuana dependence, Roffman struggles to simultaneously raise awareness of potential dangers while advocating for a saner legal response. Despite a bland prose style, Roffman depicts a personal history as tumultuous as the history of the herb that’s been his lifelong focus, and his refreshing insistence on acknowledging the complicated truth about marijuana may provoke both pot-lovers and prohibitionists to question their assumptions. 16 pages of images. Agent: Peter Riva, International Transactions. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-60598-702-6
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-60598-588-6
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