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The Secret History of Getting High in America: This Is Your Country on Drugs (2009)


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This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America is a 2009 nonfiction book by Ryan Grim. Topics covered include the prohibition of LSD and anti-cannabis public service announcements.Publishers Weekly said it was a “sharp critique of anti-drug programs”. The Austin Chronicle recommended it as a holiday gift for “the hard-to-buy-for drug policy reformer on your list”. It has been required reading in university public health curricula, and cited in a RAND Corporation drug policy research paper.


Mary Jane Rathbun (December 22, 1922 – April 10, 1999), popularly known as Brownie Mary, was an American medical cannabis rights activist. As a hospital volunteer at San Francisco General Hospital, she became known for baking and distributing cannabis brownies to AIDS patients.[1] Along with activist Dennis Peron, Rathbun lobbied for the legalization of cannabis for medical use, and she helped pass San Francisco Proposition P (1991) and California Proposition 215 (1996) to achieve those goals. She also contributed to the establishment of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, the first medical cannabis dispensary in the United States.[2]

Rathbun was arrested on three occasions, with each arrest bringing increased local, national, and international media attention to the medical cannabis movement.[3] Her grandmotherly appearance generated public sympathy for her cause and undermined attempts by the district attorney’s office to prosecute her for possession. The City of San Francisco eventually gave Rathbun permission to distribute cannabis brownies to people with AIDS.[4] Her arrests generated interest in the medical community and motivated researchers to propose one of the first clinical trials to study the effects of cannabinoids in HIV-infected adults.[5]


Ryan W. Grim (born March 23, 1978) is an American author and journalist. Grim was Washington, D.C. bureau chief for HuffPost and is the Washington, D.C. bureau chief for The Intercept. He is also a political commentator for The Young Turks, and appears frequently as a guest on The Majority Report with Sam Seder and Rising with Krystal & Saagar. His writings have appeared in several publications, including Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, and Politico. He is the author of This Is Your Country on Drugs and We’ve Got People. He cofounded Strong Arm Press, an independent progressive publishing house. He has been a co-host of The Hill’s Rising since June 1, 2021.



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