In his new book Going to Pot, former drug czar Bill Bennett seeks to reverse the trend toward marijuana legalization by arguing that the plant is a lot scarier than you think. The result will not persuade anyone who is not already on Bennett's side, as I explain in my latest Forbes column:
"With marijuana," declare William J. Bennett and Robert A. White in Going to Pot, their new prohibitionist screed, "we have inexplicably suspended all the normal rules of reasoning and knowledge." You can't say they didn't warn us.
The challenge for Bennett, a former drug czar and secretary of education who makes his living nowadays as a conservative pundit and talk radio host, and White, a New Jersey lawyer, is that most Americans support marijuana legalization, having discovered through direct and indirect experience that cannabis is not the menace portrayed in decades of anti-pot propaganda. To make the familiar seem threatening again, Bennett and White argue that marijuana is both more dangerous than it used to be, because it is more potent, and more dangerous than we used to think, because recent research has revealed "long-lasting and permanent serious health effects." The result is a rambling, repetitive, self-contradicting hodgepodge of scare stories, misleading comparisons, unsupportable generalizations, and decontextualized research results.