Lynn Zimmer, a Queens College sociologist whose dogged, meticulous scholarship is much appreciated by journalists covering drug policy and activists trying to change it, died this week at the age of 59, six years after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann offered this appreciation:
Professor Zimmer, a sociologist at Queens College in New York, was widely regarded among both drug policy scholars and activists as the most original thinker on drug issues in the United States. She co-authored (with her dear friend and colleague, Dr. John P. Morgan) the book Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts, the leading (and best selling) scholarly book on marijuana; it has been translated and published in seven languages to date. She also published extensively on other drug issues, including drug testing, drug education, and drugs and the media, and appeared often on radio and TV programs.
Professor Lynn Zimmer received both The Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship from the Drug Policy Foundation (now the Drug Policy Alliance) and the Lester Grinspoon Award for Achievement in the Field of Marijuana Law Reform from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in 2000. She was looked to as an intellectual leader in the growing drug policy reform movement. She was simultaneously a fierce critic of drug prohibition and the nation's harsh drug war policies but also a keen skeptic of arguments for full legalization. Her insights into drug use and addiction, as well as the various roles of drugs in society, were unparalleled.