Cultivator’s Handbook Still Around After Almost 40 Years


Graphic: Homegrown Goodness

​Back when I first started noticing such things in 1977, Bill Drake’s International Cultivator’s Handbook was already a classic. Published in 1974, the book was one of the very first to market that went into detail on how to grow not only marijuana, but also coca and opium.

The volume, which became quite hard to find after it went out of print in the early 1980s for a few years, is now available again in a new large paperbound edition from the author.
Author William Daniel Drake Jr. is a writer, teacher and social inventor living and working on a biodynamic vegetable and flower farm located on Johnson Creek in the Texas hill country. Bill is a former professor of international management at the University of Texas at Dallas.
His counterculture books have sold more than three million copies in six languages worldwide since his first book, the Cultivator’s Handbook of Marijuana, in 1969. 

Photo: Smashwords
Bill Drake

​”When I first wrote the International Cultivator’s Handbook in 1972-73 the internet wasn’t anywhere on the horizon,” Drake writes. “As a writer, if I needed information I had to go to the source in person.
“Other than contacting people by telephone or mail, my only option for digging out deeply buried information was to spend time traveling and haunting libraries, begging for access to private collections, and initiating conversations with strangers, some of whom were not terribly happy to be approached, always hoping for a break that would lead me to the really good stuff,” Drake writes.
“After passing whatever kind of test was invented for the occasion I usually got what I came for, and sometimes a whole lot more!” Drake tells us.
“In the case of drugs and society, the past is truly prologue, and not surprisingly there is little new in the debates that surround the subject,” Drake writes, and we are inclined to listen to someone who’s observed and studied the scene for 40 years. 
“Whether people are arguing over the inherent evil of drugs vs. their benign and benevolent nature, or over the harm that drugs do to some lives compared with all the lives they enhance with medical and spiritual benefits — most of these arguments are very old indeed,” Drake writes.
“That’s mainly why I’ve chosen to update and re-publish this book — because I believe than an historical perspective must form the basis for any discussion of the proper role of natural drugs and medicines in our society,” Drake tells us. “I hope that by making this updated, much expanded book available I can add some light — as well as some fire and smoke — to the debate.”
The International Cultivator’s Handbook was Drake’s third book, after Cultivator’s Handbook of Marijuana (1969) and the Connoiseur’s Handbook of Marijuana (1971)which Rolling Stone magazine once called “the first and still the best coffee table dope book.” He also wrote Marijuana Foods (1981).
His latest book is the Cultivator’s Handbook of Natural Tobacco (2010).
“While the techniques and technology of producing fine quality hashish and marijuana have evolved at warp speed over the years since this book was first written, back in the days when Afghani hash was king and the first potent little Afghani Indica plants were first being imported into the West Coast of the US by adventurous hippie entrepreneurs, the traditional methods of growing and producing Coca and Opium covered in this book deserve to be conserved and remembered, which is why I have updated and expanded the book for re-publication,” Drake writes.
Indeed, as a both an informational volume and a historical artifact, I found the Cultivator’s Handbook to be fascinating and worthwhile, almost a time capsule from the drug culture of the early 70s that is once again seeing the light of day.
The International Cultivator’s Handbook: Coca, Opium & Hashish is available for $14.95 in a new edition, including on Amazon and CreateSpace.