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In the WeedsIn the Weeds

Demonization, Legalization, and the Evolution of U.S. Marijuana Policy

Clayton J. Mosher and Scott Atkins

Narrated by Ronald Bruce Meyer

Available from Audible

Book published by Temple University Press

More and more states are legalizing marijuana in some form. Moreover, a majority of the U.S. population is in favor of legalizing the drug for recreational use. In the Weeds looks at how our society has become more permissive in the past 150 years—even though marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug by the American government.

Sociologists Clayton Mosher and Scott Akins take a deep dive into marijuana policy reform, looking at the incremental developments and the historical, legal, social, and political implications of these changes. They investigate the effects, medicinal applications, and possible harms of marijuana. In the Weeds also considers arguments that youth will be heavy users of legalized cannabis, and shows how “weed” is demonized by exaggerations of the drug’s risks and claims that it lacks medicinal value. Mosher and Akins end their timely and insightful book by tracing the distinct paths to the legalization of recreational marijuana in the United States and other countries as well as discussing what the future of marijuana law holds.

Clayton J. Mosher is a Professor of Sociology at Washington State University. He is the coauthor of Drugs and Drug Policy: The Control of Consciousness Alteration, co-author of The Mismeasure of Crime, and author of Discrimination and Denial: Systemic Racism in Ontario's Legal and Criminal Justice System, 1892-1961.

Scott Atkins is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University. He is the coauthor of Drugs and Drug Policy: The Control of Consciousness Alteration.


In the Weeds masterfully profiles decades of government propaganda that sought to misinform the American public about marijuana. Mosher and Akins use a variety of sources to fact-check that information campaign, while highlighting the negative impact it has had on vulnerable segments of American society. By weaving together medical, scientific, and social scientific research with media and policy analysis, this book serves as an invaluable resource in understanding the societal damage of the War on Drugs.”

—John Hudak, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

“Mosher and Akins’s In the Weeds accomplishes much. It’s a useful primer for the long history of marijuana in the United States, as well as a deep dive into the myriad policy changes that have brought us from the period of ‘reefer madness’ in the 1930s to the widespread acceptance of legalization today. The authors address the potential hazards of the drug, but nonetheless make it clear where their sympathies lie, particularly in their work to dismantle myths of cannabis demonization perpetuated by individuals, organizations, and federal agencies. A useful book for those wondering, ‘How did we get here?’”

—Emily Dufton, author of Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America

In the Weeds reviews the current climate of cannabis policies in the United States.... It presents arguments from both sides of the issue — such as the theory that kids are more likely to abuse weed when it’s legal — and goes in-depth on institutions that drive prohibition today like the Drug Enforcement Administration. The last two chapters of In The Weeds are particularly useful.”

Big Buds Magazine

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University Press Audiobooks