Former Seattle Top Cop: Pot Is Safer Than Booze!

Former Seattle Police Chief (and present NORML Advisory Board Member) Norm Stamper voices his views that marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol in today’s Huffington Post.
Here’s what he has to say:

A Former Police Chief on New Marijuana Book
I’d like to give you an insider’s perspective on the question of marijuana versus alcohol. By “insider,” I refer to my decades of law enforcement experience, during which time I witnessed firsthand how these two substances affect consumers, their families, and public safety overall. As you can imagine, those of us who have served our communities as officers of the law have encountered alcohol and marijuana users on a frequent if not daily basis, and we know all too well how often one of these two substances is associated with violent and aggressive behavior.
In all my years on the streets, it was an extremely rare occasion to have a night go by without an alcohol-related incident. More often than not, there were multiple alcohol-related calls during a shift. I became accustomed to the pattern. If I was called to a part of town with a concentration of bars or to the local university, I could expect to be greeted by one or more drunks, flexing their “beer muscles,” either in the throes of a fight or looking to start one. Sadly, the same was often true when I received a domestic abuse call. More often than not, these conflicts — many having erupted into physical violence — were fueled by one or both participants having overindulged in alcohol.
… As one who has been entrusted with maintaining the public’s safety, I strongly believe — and most people agree — that our laws should punish people who do harm to others.
… But by banning the use of marijuana and punishing individuals who merely possess the substance, it is difficult to see what harm we are trying to prevent. It bears repeating: From my own work and the experiences of other members of the law enforcement community, it is abundantly clear that marijuana is rarely, if ever, the cause of harmfully disruptive or violent behavior. In fact, I would go so far as to say that marijuana use often helps to tamp down tensions where they otherwise might exist.

Of course, the “new marijuana book” that Norm is referring to is my book (with co-authors Steve Fox and Mason Tvert) Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? You can read an excerpt from the book today on the website here. Alternet also has posted a comprehensive interview with Steve and I discussing varying aspects of the book’s content and philosophy here.
If you like what you read, consider participating in today’s first-ever marijuana ‘book bomb’, which has helped to propel Marijuana Is Safer‘s Amazon sales ranking (as of this writing) to #47!
Is it possible that a book which argues that marijuana is objectively less harmful (to both the user and to society) than alcohol can become #1 on Amazon’s best-seller’s list? Only time will tell, but no doubt more and more Americans are getting the message loud and clear!
**FYI: Norm Stamper will be speaking at NORML’s 38th annual conference, taking place Sept. 24-26 in San Francisco. For registration details and conference agenda, click here.

0 thoughts

  1. Thank you! That this is only now being widely reported is driving me nuts – but maybe it just represents the glacial pace that humanity is towards a progressive future. I’m eager for real change in our country. Hopefully everyone reading this will also check out Nicholas Kristoff’s NYtimes piece today about our obsession with incarceration:

  2. I bought four copies! I’ll keep one and give the rest to friends and family. Thanks to you guys for such an awesome book! For decades I’ve long wondered “Why booze and not pot?” I think I learned on my own after partaking in each. Frankly, alcohol sucks.
    Keep up the great work!!

  3. Of course, the “new marijuana book” that Norm is referring to is my book (with co-authors Steve Fox and Mason Tvert) sounds kinda arrogant, like you wrote the book/it was your idea (maybe it was, I dont know) and they just helped you produce it or proofread it or something.
    How ’bout
    “Of course, the “hew cannabis book” that Norm is referring to is “Cannabis is Safer” written by myself, Steve Fox and Mason Tvert.”
    Share the fame, buddy. And Steve Fox’s name is even before yours on the cover.

  4. Surely the release of the Lockerbie bomber will free up another jail cell for a harmless pot smoker.

  5. And where can we get this book? You might want to put a link to it on Amazon or where ever so people can order a copy…

  6. This cop speaks the truth. And being that I’ve had to do a research paper on Marijuana for a college class, I’d know from the hours of researching into it. The benefits of having pot legal outweigh the negatives of legalizing it. A majority of the people against legalizing Marijuana are typically the ignorant who know nothing about Marijuana other than from what they’ve seen on those cheesy AboveTheInfluence commercials. AboveTheInfluence is a joke that I find laughable just about every time it appears on TV.

  7. this is all old news anyone that has ever smoked a joint could tell u that pot helped in the stressful times alcohol just makes people regret what happened in the morning maybe when the politicians sober up they will regret cannabis prohibition who am i kidding they won’t sober up if they did they might realize what pieces off sh*t they are and how bad they have molested the constitution (life liberty and the pursuit of happiness) well a toke now and then makes me happy

  8. It’s very good to see a officer of the law telling the truth about pot, the world needs more honist people like this.

  9. You tell’em Mr. Stamper! I also know that alcohol is very detructive to famileis and peoples lives unlike cannabis.
    I will be glad when our leaders finally give in to reason. Maybe this country will be a more peaceful place to live.

  10. Here’s an idea for a different type of book bomb. Let’s raise enough money between norml and say mpp to buy enough books for all the house, senate, state reps, and of course the pres and drug czar then once we got the money and books send them all a book for their educational enjoyment. (added by Mobile using Mippin)

  11. Hell yea Normal were all gettin r dun with ur power plus the pples power i can feel it were gettin closer,n closer LETS DO THIS SHIT

  12. This reminds me of when I was in school. There were two types of people in school that liked to party. Those that used alcohol (usually jocks and rednecks) and the pot smokers( the cool group). The question was always asked ” hey man are you cool?” That was to say do you smoke? Those that drank alcohol had all kinds of problems with violence and auto accidents and MIP arrests. The pot smokers kept a pretty low profile and didn’t get in much trouble. I don’t remember us ever getting into fights with each other while we were high. We did eat a lot of pizza and corn chips though. Great book. I hope it gets read a lot. All cops would probably tell you the same story as Norm.

  13. I just bought a copy of “Marijuana Is Safer…” and “This Is Your Country On Drugs”. “Marijuana Is Safer…” is (as of now) at #26! Both books should be here on the 26th, I can’t wait to read them. I’m happy to support the cause, I hope everyone else will consider supporting it as well. This book is rising fast on the top 100, let’s keep it that way!

  14. after court the arresting officer said, “next time you go camping, take some tequlia” great advice from Virginia’s finest.
    can’t wait to read the book!! will he be or was he on Cobert or stewart?

  15. I bought mine today! I would love to see this book hit the #1 spot, can’t wait to read it.

  16. Looks like a good book I have always liked Norm Stamper he puts a very good look at the law and its unfairness from a cops view something that is needed. I ordered it for the book bomb also ordered the DVD The Union.

  17. That’s awesome. I’m happy that people are starting to acknowledge the fact that marijuana is safer. I hope hope that more people like the chief will share their story about how my life got flipped turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute just sit right there
    I’ll tell you how I become the prince of a town called Bel-Air.

  18. No doubt this country would be better off, in many ways, of cannibis were used instead of alcohol. The reason that will not happen is that cannabis helps you think, while alcohol helps you not think. Overdose results in a blackout, and that is no thinking at all. Most people choose alcohol because it is for them, the brain dead. Cannabis helps one become insightful, sensative and develope an inquisitive, expansive, exploring open mind. Using quality cannabis is, in a courious way, almost like work. All that is just too much work for drunks, who simply want to anesthetize themselves while they play grab ass and laugh at each other’s foolishness, then cop an attitude and become beligerent and violent before they vomit and pass out. At least they have the hangover to look forward to, along with avoiding people until they can try and remember where they were and what they did last night. It might be sort of funny if it were not so highly addictive and did not kill so many people and destroy so many families. Cannabis can help develop the mind; alcohol destroys the mind, and results in what is commonly called a “wet brain.”

  19. #26 Mike Stroup Says:
    August 20th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    “Ever wonder why there is
    not even so much as a warning label
    on a bottle of rot gut?”

    RE: Mike,
    – Perhaps the warning labels are not
    more visible / apparent…
    – I’ve noticed THIS gov’t-cautionary
    on beer-cans and liquor-bottle labels…

    There’s also a ficticious Medi-pot,
    “warning-label” I’ve heard read
    by Homer, during a certain Simpsons episode:

  20. Yeah…we gotta stop using the ‘M’ word. That word is what brought us to where we are now. Cannabis , it’s good for you! Get used to it.

  21. thats great nerogenesis! i really do wonder what kind of warning label they will put on marijuana if legal? Would our government lie, yet again, and put that it causes cancer? I think it should be this: Warning: Using marijuana in conjunction with cigarettes and/or alcohol could cause cancer.

  22. We need a book or a scientist or anyone to explain this to us? You drink enough and you pass out, vomit and wake up the next day with a screaming headache. You do that long enough, you become a vegetable with a rotting liver. You smoke enough pot and … what happens? Obviously you are going to have some behavioral problems, but the effect it has on your physical health has no obvious symptoms. It makes your eyes red. What does that mean?
    It’s sad. This is nothing like any kind of dazzling insight.

  23. Darn it! Have had some unpleasant events going on in the last few days (neighbors) and missed getting the order done on the 20th.
    Did order it today though. Four copies of Marijuana is Safer: … AND one copy of This Is Your Country …
    What’s the book at on the list now???
    Phil E. Drifter and RED: Yes, I prefer Cannabis to Marijuana however, most that need to be converted know it better by Marijuana. Once we get their thinking straightened out then we can use the proper term Cannabis.

    As for me…I’m a consummate fan of liberty…it’s just that simple and absolute. I am sworn to defend freedom with my life. My commitment is to oppose, at all costs, those who would deny me my Constitution.
    LORDS OF THE MODERN WORLD have become the enemy of the people. They deceive We the People in every way imaginable. We have so little trust and faith in government, the only viable solution we are left with, to regain that trust, is to throw the bad apples out with the rest of the trash.
    “It starts with our minds,” and concludes at the ballot box. First, “We have to want real liberty.” We have to want it enough to fight for it. Next, “We have to vote for what we want,” not vote against what we fear. Not voting is surrendering…unless…BIG UNLESS…abstebtion by the people is a statement by the people…which clearly states…”My abstention is a vote of non-confidence.” This abstention states…
    any and all law(s) created during your representation will be considered null and void. We no longer authorize your representation. You’re just occupying space in “our place” in Washington D.C. We have recinded our proxy. Do not attempt to represent us in any way. Especially, do not speak for us. Just sit down, shut up, and burn up oxygen until your term is up. Do not expect to be re-elected. You have failed to accomplish the objectives you were sent to accomplish. You are disrepresenting We the People. Additionally, do not expect to return to your state and seek a seat in any politics. Your days are numbered anywhere in the soverein United States of America. Your lesseon is this…”Sometimes you have to play the tune the audiance wants to hear.” THE LORDS OF THE MODERN WORLD are definately ducking and dodging a barrage of tomatoes We the People are throwing at them.

  25. #35 Lea Says:
    August 21st, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I prefer Cannabis to Marijuana,
    most that need to be converted
    know it better by Marijuana.
    Once we get their thinking straightened out
    then we can use the proper term Cannabis.”

    RE: Lea,
    – To paraphrase the late book author,
    Eric Blair, (George Orwell),
    ‘Language is the “life-blood” of thought…’
    – In order to SUCCESSFULLY straighten-out the thinking of those
    who need to be converted, we MUST take
    the vocabulary back from the drug-warriors, A.S.A.P!
    – Not to negate the importance of the title
    “Marijuana Is Safer:
    So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? “

    – However,
    we MUST increasingly apply the ORIGINAL vernacular
    of botanical-medicine, herbalism in place of
    sensationalistic-phrasings employed by mainstream-media,
    Sheriffs Whining Imbecilic Nonsense Egregiously, and the unfree-press.
    – For example,
    were the edibles, (candies, brownies, lozenges),
    “laced” with pot, OR, were they flavored, infused with cannabis?
    – Was the lasagna “laced” with garlic and oregano,
    or was it flavored, seasoned with these…???
    – Was the eggnog “laced” with nutmeg…???
    (You get the idea…).
    – Let us “plug-in” the names of other food-ingredients,
    agricultural crops / produce in place of the names
    “marijuana”, “weed”, “drugs”, listed in news-stories, in order
    to spot less-obvious, yet equally-ridiculous “Anslingerisms”.
    – What INHERENTLY makes a patch of feral, wild “ditchweed”
    cannabis plants worth millions of dollars more than,
    let’s say, an equal-sized patch of wild dandelions or tomatoes…???
    – As far as transitioning TO the more formal,
    proper botanical terms FROM the more recognized,
    but less accurate slang-terms and thought-shrinking drug-war epithets,
    consider what advertisers do to raise awareness of
    a brand-name-change, or the new name of a business…
    (Or a music-artist / movie-icon transitioning from their
    “stage-name” to their real name…).
    Another idea…
    – Elevate the formerly
    cannabiphobic term to
    more esteemed, reverential-status:
    Saint Mary’s Wort!!!

    (or…St. Jane’s Wort…).
    Yo quiero verde, sin semilla cannabis!!!
    (No la cervesa…).

  26. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is seeking professional, articulate volunteers to support LEAP by booking speaking engagements in your area.
    LEAP is growing quickly as more and more distinguished members of law enforcement join us to speak out about the harms caused by our current drug policies. As you know, LEAP’s strategy is to send our respected and credible speakers out to explain this issue to captive audiences. We want to utilize each speaker to their maximum potential and reach as many new people as possible, so we are seeking volunteers to help us put our speakers in front of audiences across the United States and abroad.
    Because of the training involved, we ask volunteers to commit to 1-2 hours per week. You’ll be reaching out to civic clubs, universities, churches, and other groups in your area to book our speakers. We will train you to call on these groups as a member of LEAP and explain why they should be interested in hosting a LEAP speaker. As a token of appreciation for your time and effort, we offer a small compensation for each gig you are able to arrange.
    This is a great opportunity to gain experience in advocacy, outreach, and event planning while helping to promote LEAP’s message. If you are interested in volunteering, please email me with your name, city, country and relevant experience.
    Shaleen A. Title
    Speakers Bureau Director
    Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
    121 Mystic Avenue, Suites 8&9
    Medford, MA 02155
    Note: Click website link above for email address or visit the Leap website.
    [Editor’s note: LEAP is in an important reform organization that NORML supports. However, the organization and its public speakers advocate the legalization of all drugs, not just cannabis. There are many times when a LEAP speaker is apropos, there are other times when they’re not–as ‘drug’ legalization, as compared to cannabis law reform, has very low public support (and practically non-existent political support) in the United States. NORML and its chapters do not advocate legalizing any drug other than cannabis.]

  27. Editor:
    LEAP’s mission statement is here
    and does not include the legalization of the rest of illegal drugs as many seek to legalize cannabis as a commercially distributed drug. Legalization is not the same thing as commercialization. Many drugs, like many pharmaceuticals, are legal to possess, but not distribute commercially. LEAP supports ending the Drug War, which I can only hope that NORML supports as well. We need to decriminalize the possession and distribution of all of the plant product drugs at least.
    As far as cannabis is concerned, I would be happy to see it simply decriminalized and would settle for that. I’m not real excited about seeing it available for commercial distribution.

  28. I find it interesting that Leap wants to legalize all drugs and they are law enforcement while the average person simply wants weed legal. Personally, I think for medical use, any drug that works for your particular illness should be legal. No one should be locked up for fighting an illness. That’s just cruel. I don’t advocate “hard” drugs. As I get older, I find I spend more time and money fighting off various ailments I never considered when I was younger. Health insurance has taken on a new meaning as well. Without it, you suffer more and minor illness becomes major in a hurry without access to good care. I see MJ as just another tool in the arsenal of having “quality of life”.

  29. in the last fourty of the the fifty years that i have been on this earth, i have experienced both the emotional and the physical damage that alcohol can, from a young age, i have seen my entire family ripped apart as well as the personal tragedy of loosing dearly loved ones to alcohol. and, as soon as i was old enough, (actually sooner ) i began a cruize down the same path. thank god that i was able to stop and relize the reason for all the damage in my life had been due to the effects of alcohol. now, we all need a break after a hard day. and im proud to say that i would much rather pack a bit of a tiny, natural plant in a bowl and get an inhale or two than, say three or four shots-half a dozen beers. i say, to drink is to beat the children for being children as opposed to a little cannabis to get down on the floor and play with the children. do i get any a-mens? alcohol at least for me causes the small things to be blown out of perspective and mountians to always be made of mole hills where as, cannabis will always put those daily issues in perspective. i believe i have , up till drug testing , lead a very comfortable happy life. not to say that cannabis is the only way to live a reasonable life. but if one enjoys a comfortable diverson after a long day, i will remain loyal to this herbal remedy the cannabis. peace to you all.

  30. #40 Jim Says:
    August 22nd, 2009 at 1:58 pm
    I still like booze
    – I had four beers in my hotel room.
    Weed is better, though.
    RE: Jim,
    I like booze also,
    (It takes some effort to find
    a beer I can tolerate the taste of,
    HOWEVER, for me,
    alcohol TOO EASILY ends up being a
    dangerous substitute for pot…

    (Driven to drink,
    for want of a MILDER relaxant!!!)
    #42 ol tex Said:
    August 23rd, 2009 at 6:06 am
    “I don’t advocate “hard” drugs.”
    RE: ol tex,
    – I would consider ALCOHOL to be
    a “HARD” drug…

    it shouldn’t be re-outlawed, though…).

  31. It’s true, alcohol never made anyone smarter… Cannabis users generally mind their own business , and look within themselves, whereas alcohol has the opposite effect. Alcohol is available everywhere..
    Free the weed, and we free ourselves!!!!

  32. As a law enforcement officer, I have seen first hand the difference in someone who has consumed alcohol as opposed to cannabis. Someone who is drunk is usually a loose cannon, and can become violent within the space of a second. The cannabis user is usally calm and cooperative. But keep in mind, only until the laws are changed can the harlmess cannabis user not be prosecuted. I think times are changing in America, and that which was once demonized through lies and politcal rhetoric, is now being seen for what it really is, harmless. Lets keep arresting murders, burglars, robbers and thieves, not harmless cannabis users. Keep up the good work NORML and LEAP. Lets eliminate the violence caused by the prohibition of cannabis. The cartels in Mexico thrive on the prohibition in the Unites States. It’s good to see other LEOs share my view on this issue. Good luck to all, and stay safe.

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