The solution to today's cannabis problem, this book concludes, is to legalise it 'for all uses' and remove it 'entirely from the medical and criminal control systems'. The authors, respectively a professor of psychiatry and a lecturer in law at Harvard Medical School, believe legalisation is desirable for all the reasons now widely adduced in the UK, not least by some senior police officers and by last year's Lib Dem Party Conference: that the criminalisation of cannabis is absurd given the promotion of tobacco and alcohol; that it creates black markets, police corruption and crime; that the law against it is impossible to enforce, and, manifestly lacking the endorsement of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens - there may be twelve million users in the USA - compromises respect for the law and the police. Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar's argument, however, is that marijuana should be legalised because of its medicinal properties. Its benefits as a general 'feel-good' drug, preferable to certain anti depressants and tranquillisers manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry, have been widely touted by legalisation groups: Grinspoon and Bakalar seek to publicise its more specific therapeutic applications.
LRB 8 June 1995 | PDF Download