Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine

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Dying to Get High with Susie Bright on Boing Boing!

Warring Wines; ’You Want to Fight?’; Nurse Mary Jane in Santa Cruz

High Times interviews the authors

Alternet excerpt of the book ("How Pot Became Demonized")

Discussion from the Santa Cruz Metro

Marijuana as medicine has been a politically charged topic in this country for more than three decades. Despite overwhelming public support and growing scientific evidence of its therapeutic effects (relief of the nausea caused by chemotherapy for cancer and AIDS, control over seizures or spasticity caused by epilepsy or MS, and relief from chronic and acute pain, to name a few), the drug remains illegal under federal law.

In Dying to Get High, noted sociologist Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb investigate one community of seriously-ill patients fighting the federal government for the right to use physician-recommended marijuana. Based in Santa Cruz, California, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) is a unique patient-caregiver cooperative providing marijuana free of charge to mostly terminally ill members. For a brief period in 2004, it even operated the only legal non-governmental medical marijuana garden in the country, protected by the federal courts against the DEA.

Using as their stage this fascinating profile of one remarkable organization, Chapkis and Webb tackle the broader, complex history of medical marijuana in America. Through compelling interviews with patients, public officials, law enforcement officers and physicians, Chapkis and Webb ask what distinguishes a legitimate patient from an illegitimate pothead, good drugs from bad, medicinal effects from just getting high. Dying to Get High combines abstract argument and the messier terrain of how people actually live, suffer and die, and offers a moving account of what is at stake in ongoing debates over the legalization of medical marijuana.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A thought provoking portrait of a Santa Cruz cannabis collective."
-The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Their book offers an important overview of a public policy matter that is certain to become more significant in the coming years."
-SocietyBooks of Note

"The authors offer a compelling take on the political and cultural debates that surround this issue."

-Portland Phoenix

"Chapkis and Webb’s new book provides a human element to the history, pharmacology, psychology, and politics of medical marijuana in a way that no other work has. The book is as riveting as a detective novel, as informative as a textbook, and as moving as a romance. I loved reading it and sure wish I’d written it."
-Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D. ,Author of Understanding Marijuana

"Chapkis and Webb have done a masterful job in describing the intricacies of the drug debate and offer brilliant analysis on a complex and controversial subject. Both baby boomers and the current teenage population will find this book important and compelling reading."
-Terry Williams,author of Crackhouse: Notes from the End of the Line

"Emphasis here is on the human experience—extensive interviews provide a unique look at the day-to-day issues faced by chronic and terminally ill patients who find relief through the marijuana that is grown and distributed to them at no cost. WAMM’s history, philosophies, and relationship with local officials are also examined."
-Library Journal

“The authors clarify many of the issues relating to medical marijuana and how it differs from recreational use.”-Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814716663
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 8/3/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard J. Webb is a lecturer in Communication Studies at San Jose State University, San Jose, CA.

Wendy Chapkis is Professor of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, ME. She is the author of the award-winning book Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor and Beauty Secrets: Women and the Politics of Appearance.

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Table of Contents

1 Shamans and Snake Oil Salesmen
2 Set and Setting
3 Th e Greening of Modern Medicine
4 “Potheads Scamming the System”
5 Cannabis and Consciousness
6 Mother’s Milk and the Muffin Man
7 Love Grows Here
8 Lessons in Endurance and Impermanence
About the Authors

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2009

    Totally compelling new book on medical marijuana

    This book transformed the way I looked at the issue of the medical use of marijuana. The interviews with patients, physicians, and law enforcement are all riveting. The book offers a concise history of the use - and the criminalization of the use - of cannabis in the US and discusses the contemporary political debates surrounding state-by-state legalization.

    But what distinguishes this book from anything else out there is the absolutely captivating account of the creation of one of the original patient-caregiver cooperatives in California: the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana. One of my favorite chapters (and the one that gives the book its title) discusses what patients have to say about the therapeutic value of the consciousness altering effects (the "high") associated with cannabis, especially for those who are in the process of dying (80% of the members of this organization are living with life threatening illnesses).

    The book offers a really detailed picture of the organization and describes its battle against the U.S. federal government -- including an account of a terrifying early morning DEA raid in 2002 and the organization's decision to fight back. The group won in federal court and for a while they had the only legal medical marijuana garden in the country.

    The book also has a couple of dozen really powerful pictures (portraits of patients, photos of the collective's garden, photos of demonstrations). It is scholarly without being in the least bit dry. I recommend it highly.

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    Posted August 6, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2011

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