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 Alternet.org 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.