For Roger Roffman, a retired university professor, there’s nothing academic in the stories told in his memoir.
It was personal when Roffman struggled with his own compulsive pot use and when he lost his younger brother to a drug overdose. It’s personal when he challenges those who say marijuana is harmless.
It’s personal when he asks: If criminal penalties have been ineffective in protecting young people and the public’s health and safety, might a well-designed and well-regulated legal market do better?
For 45 years, Roffman has worn a multitude of hats, all related to his fascination with marijuana: the first to survey soldiers about their pot use in Vietnam, activist working to reform the laws, federally-funded marijuana dependence researcher, addiction therapist, drug educator, and - for a while - even a dealer who helped cancer patients learn about pot.
It began in Vietnam where, as an Army officer in 1967, he questioned the prison terms meted out to soldiers who got high, while at every military base in the country booze was cheap and readily available.
Roffman has experienced the layered and complex relationship Americans have with marijuana first-hand. His stories offer all too rare balanced insights about a drug that directly or indirectly has affected virtually all of us living in Marijuana Nation.
“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.”
- Rick Steves, host of public television’s Rick Steves’ Europe
One Man’s Chronicle of America Getting High:
From Vietnam to Legalization