• Max Sinsheimer

SOLD! Just Dope (by Allison Margolin)

I'm still catching up on a few deals that closed towards the end of last year, including Just Dope, Allison Margolin's fascinating insider account of the War on Drugs and what comes next for the drug legalization movement.


Allison has had a front row seat to the interminable drug wars from a very young age. She is the daughter of marijuana legalization advocate and pot lawyer Bruce Margolin, famous for defending Timothy Leary. Today Allison is a criminal defense attorney in her own right, a founding partner of the Beverly Hills law firm Margolin & Lawrence, and an expert in cannabis licensing.

Allison on NPR offering guidance to Georgia farmers navigating the hemp licensing process. (Credit: Grace Walker)

Just Dope weaves Allison’s personal and professional stories — from growing up with a

pot activist father to defending legalized marijuana from overzealous state and federal

officials in California — with new science debunking common misconceptions about

addiction, historical analysis of the racist origins of the drug war, and shrewd political

examination of the legalization landscape. It is structured in the manner of a criminal

trial that will decide a provocative question: should all drugs be made legal?


There are addiction memoirs and historical accounts of every facet of the drug war, but Just Dope will be the first to offer a lawyer’s insider perspective on the failures of the justice

system. Fully two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization and 55% favor

decriminalizing all drugs. As tens of thousands die every year from the worst opioid

epidemic in American history, people are searching for a more humane and effective

alternative to the War on Drugs.


And, while I never want to artificially fit my book pitch to the current moment, I do think that COVID-19 as a public health crisis has shown us what is possible in terms of criminal justice reform and harm reduction. Because of the way that the coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout prison populations, there's been a rush to release some low-level offenders, including those convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. Law enforcement is also making fewer arrests. In California, the bail for most misdemeanors and low-level felonies has been set at $0 in order to limit the number of new inmates entering the prison system. And legislators in British Columbia, Canada, are making sure dependent users have a safe supply of opioids during this crisis. Just Dope is well positioned to help lead a vital national conversation about wider drug legalization.


Just Dope was acquired by Keith Donnell at North Atlantic Books, a fantastic indie press distributed by Penguin Random House and based close to Allison in California. Here is the Publishers Marketplace deal memo:

Congratulations to Allison and Keith!

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