A New Leaf

The End of Cannabis Prohibition

The most vivid and comprehensive account yet of the rocky road to cannabis legalization—and where we are headed next—by two award-winning journalists

“With great clarity, A New Leaf offers a sweeping and important view of today’s changing attitudes toward marijuana.” —Amy Wilentz, author of The Rainy Season and Farewell, Fred Voodoo

In November 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington passed landmark measures to legalize the production and sale of cannabis for social use—a first in the United States and the world. Medical cannabis is now legal in eighteen states and Washington, D.C., and more than one million Americans have turned to it in place of conventional pharmaceuticals. Yet the federal government refuses to acknowledge these broader societal shifts and continues to raid and arrest: 49.5 percent of all drug-related arrests involve the sale, manufacture, or possession of cannabis.

In the first book to explore the new landscape of cannabis in the United States, investigative journalists Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian present a deeply researched, insightful story of how recent developments tie into cannabis’s complex history and thorny politics. Reporting from nearly every state with a medical cannabis law, Martin and Rashidian enliven their book with in-depth interviews with patients, growers, doctors, entrepreneurs, politicians, activists, and regulators. They whisk readers from the federal cannabis farm at the University of Mississippi to the headquarters of the ACLU to Oregon’s “World Famous Cannabis Café.” They present an expert analysis of how recent milestones toward legalization will affect the war on drugs both domestically and internationally. The result is an unprecedented and lucid account of how legalization is manifesting itself in the lives of millions.

A New Leaf offers an essential guide for anyone who wants to understand the far-ranging implications of this rapidly changing drug landscape.



“I thought I knew everything about cannabis and its journey toward legalization. Well, A New Leaf proved me wrong. I emphatically recommend this eye-opening book to everyone, especially those who believe they know the entire story. A must-read.”
—Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
“A cogent, well-sourced and ambitious analysis of the slow decline of cannabis prohibition in the United States. . . . A piercing work of sociological reportage.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Martin and Rashidian have crafted a superb, lucid look at why cannabis prohibition has hurt the world in ways many of us would have never guessed. They put a human face on sterile laws and policies and provide the most up-to-date information on today’s controversies about the plant. They treat readers to an accessible and well-documented explanation of the backhanded and thoughtless way we have arrived at our current predicament and emphasize that thorough and considerate approaches are our only way out.”
—Mitch Earleywine, author of Understanding Marijuana
“Just in time: Martin and Rashidian bring us the first account of the lively new green economy that is springing up in the wake of marijuana decriminalization and legalization. This is a meticulously reported book and a firm rebuke to the continuing federal prohibition.”
—Barbara Ehrenreich
A New Leaf is a wonderful read for anyone who wishes to have a better idea of how dastardly this prohibition has been, particularly in its last years. Fortunately, it is now virtually over, and what we are seeing is a culture desperately trying to find accommodations to this ‘new leaf’ on the block.”
—Dr. Lester Grinspoon, associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Marihuana Reconsidered and Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine
“With A New Leaf, Martin and Rashidian have given readers the most complete and up-to-date look at the history, science, politics, and personal stories of the movement for legalized marijuana. They drove across America four times to harvest the story. If there’s something you need to know about weed, it’s in here.”
—Mike Sager, author of High Tolerance
“Carefully researched [and] accessible. . . . Changing marijuana laws doesn’t seem as scary a proposition by the end.”
Publishers Weekly
“Nothing less than an indictment of a national disgrace—a must-read for anyone who wants to participate in the urgent conversation about cannabis legalization, drug policy reform, and the assault of the drug war on civil liberties.”
—Nadine Strossen, professor at New York Law School and former president of the ACLU
“A comprehensive look at the political and social revolution taking place that is leading to the day when marijuana will inevitably be legal in all fifty states. The authors take us on a journey to meet the people on the front lines of this transformation.”
—Dale Maharidge, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning And Their Children After Them and author of Bringing Mulligan Home

News and Reviews

The Boston Globe

A New Leaf is included in a round-up of "Seven Books on Marijuana" in The Boston Globe

The Brian Lehrer Show

Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian discuss A New Leaf on the Brian Lehrer Show

The Atlantic

Co-author Alyson Martin looks at cannabis research on college campuses in The Atlantic

The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books reviews A New Leaf

Goodreads Reviews