Includes bibliographical references (pages 267-293) and index.
A chronicle of marijuana's journey toward and away from legalization examines how grassroots activists from the 1970s nearly secured its decriminalization before conservative parents and the Reagan administration transformed cannabis into a focus for the war on drugs.
"In the last five years, eight states have legalized recreational marijuana. To many, continued victories seem certain. But pot was on a similar trajectory forty years ago, only to encounter a fierce backlash. In Grass Roots, historian Emily Dufton tells the remarkable story of marijuana's crooked path from acceptance to demonization and back again -- and of the earnest hippies, frightened parents, suffering patients, and thousands of other ordinary Americans who made changing marijuana laws their life's work. During the 1970s, pro-pot activists with roots in the counterculture secured the drug's decriminalization in a dozen states. The movement forged close ties with Jimmy Carter's White House, and a sprawling world of paraphernalia makers and head shops catered to smokers. Before long, however, concerned suburban parents began to mobilize, arguing that children's safety ought to take precedence over adults' right to smoke pot. In the 1980s, they found a champion in First Lady Nancy Reagan, transforming pot into a national scourge under the slogan 'Just Say No' and helping to pave the way for an aggressive war on drugs. The tide began to turn again in the 1990s, as chastened marijuana advocates retooled their message, promoted pot as a medical necessity during the AIDS crisis, and eventually declared legalization a matter of racial justice. Through new research and interviews, Grass Roots offers an engrossing account of marijuana's colorful history and its rich lessons for today's debate. Over the past five decades the drug's evolving and contradictory meanings have mobilized thousands of Americans to fight for and against marijuana rights. While legalization advocates have the upper hand today, Dufton shows how a new counterrevolution could swiftly unfold."--Dust jacket flap.