"Waiting to Inhale: The Politics of
Medical Marijuana" by Alan Bock ($18.95 pb, Seven Locks Press)
Bock also goes beyond California, surveying medical marijuana initiatives and legislation in other states and describing how they have learned from California's experience. He details the grassroots activism of scruffy radicals and the big-money campaigns of George Soros and his fellow millionaire reformers. Bock has talked to everyone from intensely skeptical cops and prosecutors to patients, doctors, growers, and activists, and he skillfully paints portraits of the sometimes clashing personalities involved.
In so doing, Bock opens a window on the cultural and political differences in the reform movement -- the divide between "suits" and "hippies" -- or "ties" and "tye-dyes" for lack of better terms -- represented most classically, if not entirely cleanly, by the Soros-funded Americans for Medical Rights (AMR) and the local-level grassroots activists who want to push far beyond AMR's limited agenda and who accuse the "suits" of kowtowing to law enforcement concerns at the expense of suffering patients.
Five years after California voters passed
the Compassionate Use Act (CUA), access to medical marijuana remains problematic
in large parts of the state. In fact, it would be fair to say that
the state is in effect a patchwork quilt of medical marijuana laws negotiated
at the city or county level among reformers, elected officials, law enforcement,
and other stake-holders. Bock does readers a great service in disentangling
the snarled web of court cases through which medical marijuana law in California
is actually being created. He also points out how the intentional
ambiguities in the wording of the CUA -- over, for examples, the medical
conditions to which it might apply, the amount of marijuana allowed, and
the means of obtaining it -- provided openings for recalcitrant officials,
ranging from then Attorney General Dan Lundgren to local cops and prosecutors,
to override the clearly expressed will of the voters.
While some may complain that the book has, for instance, too much Dennis Peron and not enough Chris Conrad, or too much Bill Zimmerman and not enough Steve Kubby, or vice versa, those plaints are mild. Bock has produced a remarkably comprehensive and even-handed, although clearly sympathetic, portrait of an increasingly powerful social movement. It should be read by all concerned with the workings of political and social change, not only, but especially for drug policy. For those university professors who wish to teach Medical Marijuana Politics 101, the textbook has been written.
(Ask for "Waiting to Inhale" in your local bookstore, or click to http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0929765826/drcnet/ to buy it online and DRCNet will earn a royalty on your purchase.)