There are so many books relating, directly and indirectly, to the world of cannabis that it can be tough to know which ones to buy.
With a plethora of volumes on growing, using, concentrating, and cooking with cannabis, as well as tomes related to the culture and lifestyle associated with it, the reader with an adventurous streak can stock a library or fill an e-reader.
But beyond the grow books (I recommend Rosenthal
) and the basic histories of marijuana (I recommend mine
), books which are more about the (counter-) culture surrounding weed rather than weed itself are harder to pigeonhole and, thus, often harder to find.
Here are five of the best books on the culture of marijuana that came to our attention this year.
The Audacity of Dope
by sports writer Monte Dutton is unusual in that Dutton has, until now, been well known and celebrated for his spin on NASCAR racing. Dutton’s controversial new novel features a man who becomes a hero against his own wishes.
Riley Mansfield, the lead character, isn’t a conventional hero. He writes songs for a living, smokes pot for recreation and basically just wants to live and let live. But when he foils an apparent terrorist plot he is thrust into the spotlight, which is exactly where he doesn’t want to be.
Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of the marketable new “hero,” including both major political parties. They aren’t willing to take no for an answer, partly because it’s an election year and partly because what happened on the plane may be more complicated than it appears.
Mansfield and his girl Friday, Melissa Franklin, lead the government and the Republicans on a sometimes merry, sometimes painful, sometimes lucky chase. Along the way, they stumble across some unlikely friends — a Democrat strategist, a Rolling Stone writer, a pair of sympathetic FBI agents — and also some ruthless enemies.
Theirs is a love affair of sex, drugs and country-folk set against a backdrop of political scheming, hidden agendas and an unraveling plan to keep control of the government.
The Audacity of Dope by Monte Dutton, Neverland Publishing Company LLC , $16.95
The Orange Blossom Express by Evangeline is autobiographical fiction set in the hippie days of 1969. Evangeline returns to her home town, Redlands, in Southern California to weave fragments of memory with fiction to build an intriguing story of two women coming of age with a countercultural backdrop.
The bizarre and edgy realities of life in the Age of Aquarius are tempered with a rugged narrative that brings Evangeline’s story into raw focus.
The book gives modern-day readers a window on another time when reality’s stiff borders slipped into absurdity’s edgier, more-tenuous terrain.
This is a story of the smuggler’s world, survived from a woman’s point of view, where the sheer will, determination, power and strength of two extraordinary women help them survive an era of vivid adventure and apocalyptic change.
The Orange Blossom Express by Evangeline, Carapace Books , $15.95
Galbraith, an attorney, marijuana smoker, gun owner and serial (if unsuccessful) statewide political candidate, has defended individual rights in the streets, the court rooms and on political stages around the country.
Gatewood is an iconoclast, an individualistic meld of liberal and libertarian principles, and thus he follows the beat of his own drummer. Galbraith can’t be dismissed as the Tea Party wingnut that he appears to be upon first glance at the book cover, and his complexity is worth exploring.
After having been asked by friends and associates for decades, “Gatewood, why don’t you write a book?” the man finally penned this volume in 2004.
In it, you can learn the stories of Galbraith’s acquaintance with cannabis, his misspent youth, his wild forays into college life and politics and law school. Woven into the tale are personal encounters with seminal figures such as Jack Herer, Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, Pat Buchanan, Mark Emery, and many more.
The Last Free Man In America by Gatewood Galbraith, Mark Perkins Press , $29.95 hardcover, $15.95 paperback
Drawing on interviews with marijuana growers, sellers, investors, and would-be brokers, Regan reveals the opportunities and drawbacks presented by the gray-area legal status of cannabis.
From suburban moms supplementing their incomes to Mexican drug gangs, FBI raids to legalization in Portugal, gourmet cannabis cafes to businesses making money on seeds, manuals, and gardening equipment, Regan shows just how this industry is booming and what it means for the affected communities and economies.
Of course, with illegal marijuana consumption dwarfing medical cannabis use, Regan takes a close look at the domestic and international weed-smuggling trade and its many costs, from gang violence and big profits for drug cartels to billions of lost dollars in potential tax revenues and the potential positive effect of legalization to local economies across the U.S.
Joint Ventures by Trish Regan, John Wiley & Sons Inc. , $25.95
It doesn’t take a genius to draw parallels between alcohol prohibition’s end in 1933 and the upcoming end of cannabis prohibition, which makes Last Call eminently worthwhile reading for the serious cannabis activist.
The book also sheds light on some aspects of American political history that sound way too much like current news, including the uses of hypocrisy and cynicism and the power of passionate prohibitionist minorities to force their will on the rest of us.
In covering perhaps one of the biggest legal missteps in American history, the book shows an impressive command of the material and a clear, sweeping, detailed and very readable account of alcohol Prohibition. If
all history books were this well-written, we’d have more historians.
How did such an unprecedented degree of governmental overreach and interference in the private lives of Americans change the country forever? What about the impact of the bootlegging culture, through which citizens went to remarkably creative lengths to smuggle, sell, conceal, and imbibe their favorite intoxicants?
If this sounds like required reading if you want to be ready for the future, then we’re in agreement on this book.
Last Call by Daniel Okrent, Simon and Shuster , $30.00.