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

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

by Roger Roffman
 

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As public attitudes about pot undergo rapid change, Roger Roffman's portrait of marijuana in America rises above punditry and rhetoric

Roger Roffman first discovered marijuana while serving as a US Army officer in Vietnam.  From these seemingly innocuous beginnings, Roffman has been fascinated by marijuana, as a researcher, scholar, therapist, activist,

Overview

As public attitudes about pot undergo rapid change, Roger Roffman's portrait of marijuana in America rises above punditry and rhetoric

Roger Roffman first discovered marijuana while serving as a US Army officer in Vietnam.  From these seemingly innocuous beginnings, Roffman has been fascinated by marijuana, as a researcher, scholar, therapist, activist, and user. Ever since America’s youth first marched in opposition to the war in Vietnam, pot’s popularity has periodically ebbed and surged. Calls for greater, fewer, or no marijuana penalties also have swung on their own pendulum.

From lobbying in Washington, to talking to doctors and nurses in oncology wards, and watching his brother struggle with addiction, Roffman has experienced the layered and complex relationship Americans have with marijuana first-hand. With one foot on each side of the fence, at times feeling at odds with both camps, Roffman is on a quest to challenge those who insist we think of marijuana as a weapon of mass destruction, as well as those who would have us see it as a harmless source of pleasure and relief.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
03/15/2014
This memoir by an academic marijuana researcher, counselor, and legalization activist is unabashedly subjective—but distinctively unbiased. Roffman (social work, emeritus, Univ. of Washington), who first smoked pot as an army officer in Vietnam, headed Washington State's branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in the 1970s. Yet even after quitting pot and speaking out about the pitfalls of compulsive use he has continued to advocate for legalization. A skeptic on the motives behind the booming medical marijuana industry, he was an early proponent and enabler of cannabis consumption for cancer patients. Despite his evenhandedness and obvious self-awareness, this is not a gripping read. Nearly every page contains some superfluous anecdote, and curiously detailed, word-for-word dialog dating from the Sixties. VERDICT In relating an intrinsically punchy story, Roffman, and his editor, would have served its telling better through brevity. This work may become a valuable source for future historians of social movements, but the casual reader interested in pot odysseys will not be stimulated.—Scott H. Silverman, Dresden, ME
Publishers Weekly
02/03/2014
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.)
The Seattle Times
“Roffman's frankness and expertise make Marijuana Nation different from many books in the ever-growing cannabis catalog. Convincing.”
Allen St. Pierre
“An astounding first person account of the modern history of America’s love-hate relationship with cannabis from four knowing perspectives.
Firstly, as a young consumer, then an activist, abstinent researcher and not-so-tacit university professor. From no one else’s writings can these unique viewpoints be gained.”
Professor Jan Copeland
“A
terrific book that provides great insights into the complex issue that is cannabis. Professor Roffman’s unique experiences with this drug are given voice with his usual thoughtful and engaging style. Roffman is a father of modern cannabis intervention research and his book is a must read.”
Charles Mandigo
“Debates about marijuana rarely involve opponents acknowledging that those on the other side have some good points. Those for legalization rarely admit marijuana use can be harmful, and those against it rarely concede that prohibition has failed. Roger Roffman brings some badly needed “fresh air” to our national discussion about pot and pot laws. A retired professor who has studied marijuana for decades, Roffman has also had the personal experience of struggling with his own compulsive use. The reader will find a middle ground in this thoughtfully written memoir. As more states consider changing their marijuana laws, Roffman’s book is being published at just the right time. ”
Vivian McPeak
“Anyone wishing to understand the conflicting value judgments, political quagmire, and social upheaval that the marijuana reform effort has been steeped in for decades would benefit from reading Marijuana Nation. While Roffman’s work may deliver more questions than answers, his introspection and self-effacing style carve a path for the discerning mind to come to its own well informed decisions on what clearly is the subject of the day for both the social scientist and the casual reader.”
Robert W. Wood
“Dr. Roffman writes beautifully from multiple perspectives about his 40 year interest in marijuana policy -- the destructive impacts of our drug war on exploring young lives, the political struggles over policy changes, his own experimentation and dependency, and his research on marijuana addiction. A must-read for all seeking a saner approach to recreational drug use.”
Frank Couch
“Roger writes a compelling story. No matter what side of the marijuana debate you land on, you can appreciate how he arrived at his opinion on the matter. This is more than an argument for or against the legalization of marijuana, it’s a detailed map of his personal journey and evolution on the topic. I have long respected Roger’s willingingness to tell the whole story in his work. Reading this book helps me understand the thoughts, tears, steps and intention behind his position.”
Kim Marie Thorburn
“The honesty with which
Roger Roffman tells his own story of a journey with marijuana would be enough to enthusiastically recommend this book.That it includes thoughtful challenges to society's approach to the drug makes it a book that should not be missed.”
Julie Campbell
“Marijuana Nation was a totally engaging read! It vastly broadened my understanding of the history of marijuana within our culture. I especially appreciated the candidness with which Dr. Roffman described his personal experiences and opinions around marijuana. As a mother who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and is now frantic about my teen son’s heavy marijuana use, this book has given me a better perspective and knowledge that is helping me deal with his dependence. I think this is a book every parent should read.”
Rick Steves
“When it comes to the war on marijuana, it’s easy to be passionately pro or con. Roger Roffman goes much deeper. For 40 years he’s been passionate about actually understanding America’s fascinating and painful relationship with this drug and what policy is best for our society when it comes to pot. In Marijuana Nation, Roger shares a unique perspective from the trenches of Vietnam to the halls of academia to the eventual legalization of pot in two states. The story he tells is a page-turner for anyone curious about the social and historical context of America’s war on pot.”
Allenn St. Pierre
“An astounding first person account of the modern history of America’s love-hate relationship with cannabis from four knowing perspectives.
Firstly, as a young consumer, then an activist, abstinent researcher and not-so-tacit university professor. From no one else’s writings can these unique viewpoints be gained.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-06
A memoir/treatise on marijuana that rises above most similar discussions. Now that marijuana is legal in two states—and will likely be so throughout the remainder of the country in the not-too-distant future—it's likely that the next generations of pot smokers won't realize how the drug's illegality had such a profound effect on pop culture. For instance, if Paul McCartney had access to all the marijuana his heart desired, would Rubber Soul have been Rubber Soul? that marijuana is readily accessible, within the next decade, the war on weed will be looked upon the way we view Prohibition: with a great big roll of eyes. All of which is why Roffman's (Emeritus, Social Work/Univ. of Washington) book is so important—so we'll remember. The author writes about the drug's history and his personal relationship with the leaf with an accessible voice that makes the contextual material read as smoothly as the anecdotal. However, it's the personal stories that help the book stand out from the plethora of marijuana-focused books that have been released over the past several years. As a social work officer in Saigon during the Vietnam War, Roffman witnessed the positive effects that marijuana can have on mental health. After the war, he came to learn that weed was also a great help in alleviating physical suffering. Granted, this is all now common knowledge, but the author's personal journey is so engaging that we're happy to relearn lessons that will permanently reshape culture as we know it. "These four plus decades of tilting at marijuana myths while seeking common ground have generated many stories," he writes. "Perhaps they'll be useful for readers finding themselves on a similar quest." Roffman's debut adeptly straddles the line between academia and narrative nonfiction, delivering a slice of history that even teetotalers will appreciate.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781605985886
Publisher:
Pegasus Books
Publication date:
04/13/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
697,478
File size:
6 MB

Meet the Author

Roger Roffman is a Professor Emeritus of Social Work at the University of Washington and has been part of a federally-funded, twenty-five year study/counseling initiative for marijuana dependent teens and adults.  He is a graduate of Boston University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California at Berkeley. Roger lives in Seattle.

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