David's Reviews > Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence

Understanding Marijuana by Mitch Earleywine
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's review
Dec 10, 2008

it was amazing
Read in January, 2009

It’s rare that I read a book so honest and rational such as Mitch Earleywine’s Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence. The book reads like a very well-structured thesis, and is supported by a plethora of research. Earleywine has clearly done his work for this one. Just to give you an idea of what to expect, here is a sample passage (taken from a chapter titled “Social Problems”):

“Prohibitionists suggest that marijuana creates meaningful social problems, including amotivational syndrome, reckless driving, and aggression. Research in each of these domains reveals that these concerns are unfounded. Evidence for a marijuana-induced amotivational syndrome is lacking. A subset of depressed users may have inspired a few case studies that report apathy, indifference, and dysphoria, but cannabis likely does not cause these symptoms. The drug does not correlate with grades in college students. High school students who use marijuana have lower grades, but their poor school performance occurred prior to their consumption of cannabis. Cannabis users do not show worse performance on the job, more frequent unemployment, or lower wages. In addition, long-term exposure to cannabis in the laboratory fails to show any meaningful or consistent impact on productivity.”

Earleywine follows this up with a conclusion about the other two common social problems that prohibitionists cite (reckless driving and aggression). He concludes the chapter by stating, “Concerns about people’s productivity, impaired driving, and hostility are certainly important, but altering marijuana consumption will likely have little impact on these social problems.”

I found this book to be chock full of worthy information. Earleywine does a sufficient job of presenting his data without personal bias. There are many sections in which he presents both the pro- and anti-prohibitionist viewpoints. As one review on the back cover says, the book is “A well-balanced, up-to-date, non-specialist book that should appeal to a wide audience.” (Raphael Mechoulam, in Nature.

While reading this book, I thought about a lot of the people I know who desperately need an update on the current studies on cannabis. These people include college students, family members, co-workers, users and non-users. Everyone could benefit by reading a chapter or two. While the book does an excellent job of presenting information accurately, it may be tough reading for those with little interest in the subject.

5 stars. 328 pages. Published in 2002.
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