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America in the Great Stoned Age

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Via Hit and Run, Nick Gillespie in the Washington Post reviews a new book by Martin Torgoff: Can’t Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000

Each year, police make more than 700,000 marijuana-related arrests in the United States. Some 80 percent of public school districts still teach the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program even though the General Accounting Office has declared it ineffective. In 2003, comedian Tommy Chong went to federal prison for the high crime of selling bongs via the Internet. In such a climate, it takes courage to say anything positive about illegal drugs (or, as the federal government moralistically prefers to call them, illicit drugs).

So Martin Torgoff’s Can’t Find My Way Home is a brave book, simply because it seeks to “chronicle . . . the use of illicit drugs in America without sensationalizing, apologizing, moralizing or demonizing.” It’s also a generally successful effort, in many ways as pleasantly and richly intoxicating as a double hit of Humboldt County, Calif.’s finest. …

Throughout, Torgoff drives home the point that not only have nearly half of Americans tried at least one “illicit” drug but also that such substances “have long since become part of a deeply personal and complicated prism of American life. . . . From politics to the arts, drugs have shaped the American cultural landscape . . . [and] entered the mainstream of American social experience.”

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