"Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence" has been called "The first comprehensive review of marijuana toxicity to appear in more than a decade, (it) is accurate, timely and impressive." And that was by Dr. Louis Lasagna, who authored the 1982 National Academy of Sciences report on marijuana. Other experts have praised the book as well, not the least of whom was law professor John S. Battle, associate director of President Nixon's National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. William F. Buckley called it "a remarkable book... A miracle of intelligent concision."
But despite these rather impressive plaudits, the book was rejected by four separate high school districts in upstate New York this week. The group ReconsiDer, whose membership includes doctors, judges and law enforcement officials, attempted to donate copies of the book to high school libraries in five districts. Two of them, Albany and Rochester, rejected the book outright, according to the Associated Press, two others, Buffalo and Syracuse, are reviewing the book, but are expected to reject it. Only Binghamton accepted the book.
Dave Albert, a spokesman for the Albany School District, told the AP, "It's a tough situation. We certainly don't want to censor anything. But on the other hand we want to make sure that the information is presented accurately in a non-biased way and that both sides are presented." Lynn Zimmer, an associate professor of sociology at Queens College in New York, and co-author of the book, told the AP, "We don't present marijuana as completely harmless, but the information does dispel many of the myths and exaggerations that have been promoted over the years."
A spokesman for The Lindesmith Center, a New York-based drug policy think tank and the publisher of the book, told The Week Online, "In an age where 90% of high school seniors consistently report that it is 'easy' for them to procure marijuana, the banning of this book from high school libraries represents not only an act of censorship, but an unwillingness to deal in facts on this issue at all. The veracity of the information contained in the book is unquestionable, given the reception it's gotten from the scientific community. Is it wise to shelter kids from truth, in service to a drug war ideology? Our kids are confronted with the reality of marijuana every day. Do we really think that hiding the facts from them is going to fool them? What effect do we think that has on their willingness to accept our admonitions about drugs in general?"
ReconsiDer can be found on the web at http://www.reconsider.org/.