An interview with Wendy Chapkis co-author of Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine.
Weekly Signals (Irvine, CA: KUCI)
Hosts: Nathan Callahan and Mike Kaspar
Marijuana as medicine has been a politically charged topic in this country for more than three decades. Despite overwhelming public support and growing scientific evidence of its therapeutic effects (relief of the nausea caused by chemotherapy for cancer and AIDS, control over seizures or spasticity caused by epilepsy or MS, and relief from chronic and acute pain, to name a few), the drug remains illegal under federal law.
In Dying to Get High, noted sociologist Wendy Chapkis (along with co-author Richard J. Webb) investigates one community of seriously-ill patients fighting the federal government for the right to use physician-recommended marijuana. Based in Santa Cruz, California, the WoMen’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) is a unique patient-caregiver cooperative providing marijuana free of charge to mostly terminally ill members. For a brief period in 2004, it even operated the only legal non-governmental medical marijuana garden in the country, protected by the federal courts against the DEA.
Using as a stage this fascinating profile of one remarkable organization, Chapkis tackles the broader, complex history of medical marijuana in America. Through compelling interviews with patients, public officials, law enforcement officers and physicians, Chapkis asks what distinguishes a legitimate patient from an illegitimate pothead," "good" drugs from "bad," medicinal effects from "just getting high." Dying to Get High combines abstract argument and the messier terrain of how people actually live, suffer anddie, and offers a moving account of what is at stake in ongoing debates over the legalization of medical marijuana..
Wendy Chapkis is Professor of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, ME. She is the author of the award-winning book Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor and Beauty Secrets: Women and the Politics of Appearance.
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