You know things are changing with respect to marijuana laws when the former police chief of a major American city writes the forward to a book about how marijuana is safer than alcohol. Here’s former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper in the introduction to a new book called Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink:
In all my years on the streets, it was an extremely rare occasion to have a night go by without an alcohol-related incident. More often than not, there were multiple alcohol-related calls during a shift. I became accustomed to the pattern (and the odor). If I was called to a part of town with a concentration of bars or to the local university, I could expect to be greeted by one or more drunks, flexing their “beer muscles,” either in the throes of a fight or looking to start one. Sadly, the same was often true when I received a domestic abuse call. More often than not, these conflicts–many having erupted into physical violence–were fueled by one or both participants having overindulged in alcohol.
In case you might be thinking my observations are unique, let me share the results of some informal research I have conducted on my own. Over the past four years, out of a general interest in this subject, I’ve been asking police officers throughout the U.S. (and Canada) two questions. First: “When’s the last time you had to fight someone under the influence of marijuana?” (And by this I mean marijuana only, not pot plus a six-pack or fifth of tequila.) My colleagues pause; they reflect. Their eyes widen as they realize that in their five or fifteen or thirty years on the job they have never had to fight a marijuana user. I then ask, “When’s the last time you had to fight a drunk?” They look at their watches.
This past weekend, another Hempfest came and went. Several hundred thousand people flocked to Myrtle Edwards Park, most of whom got high, and the most serious altercation was Dominic Holden being removed from the VIP area.
As Stamper points out, anyone remotely familiar with people who drink and people who smoke pot know quite well which category is more likely to be violent. Yet we continue to regard alcohol as the safer drug. Politicians of both parties have continually told us that we can’t legalize marijuana because of the message it would send to our kids, yet alcohol advertisements are everywhere. For those of us who grew up with this nonsense, we got the message loud and clear. Our drug laws don’t make any sense.
All day Thursday is a book bomb for the aforementioned book from Mason Tvert, Steve Fox, and Paul Armentano. Drug law reform groups are hoping to get the book to #1 on Amazon. I have my own copy already but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. The book is largely an extension of the work that Tvert has done with SAFER, a Colorado-based organization that has made some waves in that state already. You can grab it from Amazon here.