There is so much damage and devastation inflicted on American communities by our government’s senseless war on cannabis that the sheer magnitude of the tragedy can sometimes overwhelm us. Bust statistics and prison terms blur into a cacophony of numbers, a calculus of pain as they inexorably pile and snowball.
But one thing that can really take us right back to the reality of the situation — that the war on marijuana destroys lives — is to take a look at a close-knit community and the individuals in it, and how they are impacted when the heavy hand of pot prohibition enters the picture.
That’s exactly what author Dave Wilkinson does with his novel Witchgrass: A Pipe Dream, originally released in 1994 and reprinted this year. The book portrays shattered lives and conflicted families as a New England town splits apart.
Trouble comes to rural Maine as a middle school student is recruited in a DARE class to inform on her parents for marijuana (talk about a storyline ripped from the headlines). As we see the toll the Drug War takes on a small New England town, we are left to ask why.
Wilkinson’s incredible writing washes away any initial reader skepticism within the first ten pages — he’s that good. And he excellently performs the novelist’s magic trick of creating living, breathing characters that we care about, laugh with, cry with, and even take “Safety Meetings” with (read the book).
“My strategy to help end prohibition: Don’t argue; tell a story,” Wilkinson says. “My book shows the kind of damage that must be stopped.”
Far from a dry recitation of facts, Witchgrass conveys humor, drama, and an excellent sense of place.
“I love a novel that brings me into a world I didn’t know; thanks to Witchgrass, I now know about up-country Maine, its people, geography, and social climate, because Wilkinson took me there and made it real,” said noted author John Vorhaus, author of The California Roll and Under The Gun.
“This is the sort of story that needs to be told,” said Hoam Rogh, author of The Case Of U.S. v. Yerbas and Satan’s Smoke. “There is no reason why we need to live in a police state for marijuana…. Read Witchgrass to learn how one small town fought back.”
Incredibly, the fact that Wilkinson dared to tell the truth through his fiction has led to the book being banned at one chain of Maine bookstores.
Sherman’s Books, with outlets in Bar Harbor, Boothbay, Freeport, and other cities, has refused to stock Witchgrass, according to Wilkinson.
“They have stocked another book of mine, so it can’t be me,” Wilkinson said. “Best-selling author Carolyn Chute and others have praised the book, so it can’t be that. Do you suppose it might be the subject matter?”
If your local book shop doesn’t stock Witchgrass
, ask them to order it or you can get it from Amazon here