Former Seattle Top Cop: Pot Is Safer Than Booze!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 20, 2009

    Former Seattle Police Chief (and present NORML Advisory Board Member) Norm Stamper voices his views that marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol in today’s Huffington Post.

    Here’s what he has to say:

    A Former Police Chief on New Marijuana Book
    via HuffingtonPost.com

    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. 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.

    … As one who has been entrusted with maintaining the public’s safety, I strongly believe — and most people agree — that our laws should punish people who do harm to others.

    … But by banning the use of marijuana and punishing individuals who merely possess the substance, it is difficult to see what harm we are trying to prevent. It bears repeating: From my own work and the experiences of other members of the law enforcement community, it is abundantly clear that marijuana is rarely, if ever, the cause of harmfully disruptive or violent behavior. In fact, I would go so far as to say that marijuana use often helps to tamp down tensions where they otherwise might exist.

    Of course, the “new marijuana book” that Norm is referring to is my book (with co-authors Steve Fox and Mason Tvert) Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? You can read an excerpt from the book today on the Alternet.org website here. Alternet also has posted a comprehensive interview with Steve and I discussing varying aspects of the book’s content and philosophy here.

    If you like what you read, consider participating in today’s first-ever marijuana ‘book bomb’, which has helped to propel Marijuana Is Safer‘s Amazon sales ranking (as of this writing) to #47!

    Is it possible that a book which argues that marijuana is objectively less harmful (to both the user and to society) than alcohol can become #1 on Amazon’s best-seller’s list? Only time will tell, but no doubt more and more Americans are getting the message loud and clear!

    **FYI: Norm Stamper will be speaking at NORML’s 38th annual conference, taking place Sept. 24-26 in San Francisco. For registration details and conference agenda, click here.

    47 responses to “Former Seattle Top Cop: Pot Is Safer Than Booze!”

    1. Jonathan says:

      Thank you! That this is only now being widely reported is driving me nuts – but maybe it just represents the glacial pace that humanity is towards a progressive future. I’m eager for real change in our country. Hopefully everyone reading this will also check out Nicholas Kristoff’s NYtimes piece today about our obsession with incarceration: http://tinyurl.com/nodrws

    2. Annah says:

      I bought four copies! I’ll keep one and give the rest to friends and family. Thanks to you guys for such an awesome book! For decades I’ve long wondered “Why booze and not pot?” I think I learned on my own after partaking in each. Frankly, alcohol sucks.

      Keep up the great work!!

    3. Phil E. Drifter says:

      Of course, the “new marijuana book” that Norm is referring to is my book (with co-authors Steve Fox and Mason Tvert) sounds kinda arrogant, like you wrote the book/it was your idea (maybe it was, I dont know) and they just helped you produce it or proofread it or something.

      How ’bout

      “Of course, the “hew cannabis book” that Norm is referring to is “Cannabis is Safer” written by myself, Steve Fox and Mason Tvert.”

      Share the fame, buddy. And Steve Fox’s name is even before yours on the cover.

    4. Phil E. Drifter says:

      Stop callin’ it ‘marijuana,’ we’re not speaking Mexican Spanish here.

    5. Mark, Glenolden, PA says:

      Surely the release of the Lockerbie bomber will free up another jail cell for a harmless pot smoker.

    6. Phil E. Drifter says:

      And where can we get this book? You might want to put a link to it on Amazon or where ever so people can order a copy…

    7. Phil E. Drifter says:

      Oops, my fault, there it is.

    8. Alex says:

      This cop speaks the truth. And being that I’ve had to do a research paper on Marijuana for a college class, I’d know from the hours of researching into it. The benefits of having pot legal outweigh the negatives of legalizing it. A majority of the people against legalizing Marijuana are typically the ignorant who know nothing about Marijuana other than from what they’ve seen on those cheesy AboveTheInfluence commercials. AboveTheInfluence is a joke that I find laughable just about every time it appears on TV.

    9. proud pot head jw says:

      this is all old news anyone that has ever smoked a joint could tell u that pot helped in the stressful times alcohol just makes people regret what happened in the morning maybe when the politicians sober up they will regret cannabis prohibition who am i kidding they won’t sober up if they did they might realize what pieces off sh*t they are and how bad they have molested the constitution (life liberty and the pursuit of happiness) well a toke now and then makes me happy

    10. FOX says:

      Waiting to support my local book store. Sorry guys.