‘Marijuana is Safer’: Argues Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper

‘Marijuana is Safer’: Argues Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper

Former Seattle Chief of Police Norm Stamper argues that marijuana is safer than alcohol in his foreword to the just-released, 2nd edition of ‘Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People To Drink?‘. Smell the Truth reprints the Stamper’s foreword below in its entirety:

When you pick up a book touting marijuana as a safer recreational alternative to alcohol, I imagine the last thing you are expecting is a foreword from the former chief of police of a major U.S. city. Well, if you’re surprised, I guess we are off to a good start. You see, the goal of this book—and the purpose of this foreword—is to encourage you (fan and foe alike) to reassess the way you think about marijuana.

In pages that follow, you will find objective comparisons of marijuana and alcohol. You will learn about the ways in which the federal government and other influential institutions have maintained marijuana prohibition while simultaneously conspiring to turn public opinion against its use. And you will be exposed to a plethora of statistics quantifying the damage caused by alcohol use in our society. Steve, Paul, and Mason have done a terrific job of presenting all of this information in an objective, compelling, and thoughtful manner. I am certain, whatever you may think about marijuana laws at this moment, that you will look at the issue differently by the time you reach the final chapter.

Encouraging individuals to see the marijuana issue from a new perspective is precisely what happened in Colorado between 2005 and 2012. During those years, the citizens of the state were constantly exposed to the “marijuana is safer” message and the facts that support it through an aggressive and focused public education campaign led by Mason and the organization he cofounded, Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER). As you will see in chapters 10 and 11, this simple airing of the truth literally helped change the course of history.

But before you dive into this book—which I truly couldn’t put down the first time I read it—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 (and the odor). 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.