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By | Feb. 2013
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Reefer Madness
‘Too High to Fail,’ by Doug Fine

Illustration by Ben Wiseman
By BILL MAHER
Published: August 3, 2012
“Too High to Fail” is a good rebuttal to those who say stoners never accomplish anything — Doug Fine did. TOO HIGH TO FAIL
Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution
By Doug Fine
Illustrated. 319 pp. Gotham Books. $28.
Related
* Times Topic: Marijuana and Medical Marijuana
He has written a well-researched book that uses the clever tactic of making the moral case for ending marijuana prohibition by burying it inside the economic case. We’ve become a ruthless society, and almost everything (I’m looking at you, Environment and Health Care) has to be sold as “first, it’s good for business.” To his credit, Fine doesn’t do what so many of us do and scream, “Can’t we just stop jailing potheads because that would be the right thing?” Also to his credit, he never admits he’s one of them. The “war on drugs” is America’s longest war. It has cost taxpayers $1 trillion in the last 40 years, Fine notes, and it has turned our nation into “the most highly incarcerated society in history.” In 2011, a global commission on drug policy (whose members included Paul Volcker, George P. Shultz and former presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico) declared that “the global war on drugs has failed.” Sixty-seven percent of Americans agree. Antonin Scalia and Pat Robertson are now to the left of President Obama on pot. In a way, the author of a polemic on marijuana policy suffers from the odd case of having too many facts on his side. To a person coming to this subject pot-agnostic, it might seem as if the issue is being loaded. No, it is loaded. As Fine points out, the real addicts of the drug war are the law enforcement agencies that live off this senseless game of cops and robbers. “Too High to Fail” takes the form of a fly-on-the-wall account of Northern California’s burgeoning legal cannabis industry. Fine, an investigative journalist, takes us...