Examining the Facts
by Karen T. Van Gundy and Michael S. Staunton
August 2017, 284pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3672-5
$69, £52, 60€, A94
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3673-2
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Marijuana is the second most abused substance in the United States.

Drawing on scientific evidence from medicine, psychology, criminology, and sociology, this book explores the veracity of claims about marijuana use and misuse.

Is marijuana an innocent recreational pleasure and medicinal boon or an evil that must be outlawed to protect the American public? With the legal and social status of marijuana in transition, accurate and objective information regarding its use is necessary for informed decisionmaking in both the personal and political arenas. To distinguish truth from fiction, this book draws on scientific evidence from medicine, psychology, criminology, and sociology, exploring many of the most commonly held beliefs about marijuana and documenting the scope and impact of its use—and abuse—in the United States.

The work is organized around five broad topics: patterns and trends; risks and benefits; causes and consequences; criminalization; and practice and policy. It opens with examinations of use and abuse trends among various U.S. subpopulations, then goes on to scrutinize claims about the medical risks associated with the substance. Social and interpersonal causes and consequences of marijuana use are addressed, as is the history and future of marijuana legislation in the United States. Readers will come away from this book with broad-based knowledge about marijuana—and a scientifically grounded understanding of the benefits and risks of marijuana use.


  • Provides a one-stop resource for straight answers on the impacts—good and bad—of marijuana use in the United States
  • Outlines potential sources of myths and false claims about marijuana use and misuse
  • Presents data transparently, without the biases, judgments, or subtle manipulations that often skew public opinion
  • Includes primary documents and empirical data and statistics from objective, authoritative sources
  • Draws from a range of scientific disciplines to help readers fully understand the multidimensional causes, consequences, and risks of marijuana use and abuse
Karen T. Van Gundy, PhD, is associate professor of sociology, core faculty in justice studies, and a faculty fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, Durham. Her work applies "stress process" and "life course" approaches to understanding place-linked variations in physical, emotional, and behavioral health over time. Her current work, funded by two National Science Foundation grants and by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, examines the health-related impact of social contexts among rural and urban youth and emerging adults. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses regarding drugs and society and publishes research and policy reports that consider various aspects of substance use and misuse. Her scholarly publications appear in outlets such as the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Science & Medicine, Social Psychology Quarterly, Journal of Drug Issues, Substance Use & Misuse, and Rural Sociology.

Michael S. Staunton, MA, is a doctoral candidate in sociology and a graduate research assistant at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, Durham. His master's thesis examined the effects of socioeconomic status and mastery on goal-striving stress among rural New Hampshire youth, and his published public-policy briefs concern various issues among rural American populations. His most recent work includes grant-funded research on the links between social context and health outcomes among rural youth, related work on his doctoral dissertation, and scholarly presentations at the annual meetings of the Eastern Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association.


"The book will be useful for readers seeking answers to the specific questions posed. However, with so much information circulating about marijuana—both accurate and less so—this timely book offers reliable facts gleaned from the federal government's annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2016) and other reputable, cited sources. Summing Up: Highly recommended. High school through lower-level undergraduates; general readers."—Choice, February 1, 2018

Contemporary Debates

Each title in the Contemporary Debates series examines the veracity of controversial claims or beliefs surrounding a major political/cultural issue in the United States. The purpose of the series is to give readers a clear and unbiased understanding of current issues by informing them about falsehoods, half-truths, and misconceptions—and confirming the factual validity of other assertions—that have gained traction in America's political and cultural discourse. Ultimately, this series gives readers the tools for a fuller understanding of controversial issues, policies, and laws that occupy center stage in American life and politics.
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