Even when I was critiquing it for the authors in draft form, Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know was very good. The final version, which I have just finished devouring, is even better. It’s the best book on cannabis in many years and a fine example of public policy analysis more generally.
I am going to do some posts about the content of the book in coming weeks. But I wanted to recommend the book to everyone in a more general way as an outstanding case study in how to separate scientific facts from public policy prescriptions. As I have written about before, the two are often unhelpfully — even dishonestly — slopped together in public policy analyses. Often the authors of such works don’t realize they are conflating the two, which is why they walk away from public policy disappointments saying “They ignored the science” when what they ought to say is “I’m mad because I didn’t get my way”.
The team that wrote the marijuana legalization book clearly appreciates that their great expertise in the science of drug policy does not give them a special warrant to tell other people how to live. They present the facts calmly and clearly, withholding their personal opinions until the end. And wonderfully, when they do eventually reveal their own policy preferences they label them as personal opinions, not as policies that science has proven must be implemented.
Somewhere, David Hume is smiling. So am I. Well done indeed Jonathan, Angela, Beau and Mark.