In these days of the Green Rush and the apparently inevitable legalization of cannabis, it’s important to bear one thing in mind: marijuana is a real medicine for many people. That’s made clear in The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma and the Patient Experience.
This is not yet another rehash of published medical and scientific literature. It’s a fascinating look at how marijuana’s medical use is perceived by society and how those perceptions have evolved since the first medical program began after the passage of California’s Prop 215 in 1996.
The book starts by discussing the development of anti-marijuana propaganda, rooted in early 20th Century racist and classist anti-opium campaigns. U.S. marijuana policy went from “indifference to moral panic” in the first half of the 20th century thanks largely to Hearst newspapers’ “yellow journalism” and Harry J. Anslinger, who headed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Cannabis may have been medicine and hemp was rope, but marijuana became the “killer weed.”
From killer weed to dropout drug to Just Say No and beyond, authors Michelle Newhart and William Dolphin trace the stereotypes used to stigmatize and marginalize people who consume marijuana. These stereotypes are so deeply ingrained that even people with