Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Booknote: Marijuana for Dopes

Title: Marijuana for Dopes: A Pop Culture History of Cannabis
Author: Joseph Romain
Publication Information: Toronto: Warwick Publishing Inc., 2001
ISBN: 1-894020-97-9
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: 138, including notes and glossary

This book is pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about marijuana. It is written in the style of books like the For Dummies series, which makes it very accessible and easy to ready. The author covers a lot of terrain from history of cannabis to the prohibition to the present day efforts to decriminalize the use of marijuana and efforts to allow for medical use. The author tells us what cannabis is, what uses it has besides smoking it, and its history from ancient times. He also summarizes the major studies which all conclude that the continuing criminalization is more damaging than some people smoking a little here and there. The book also looks at the business of hemp in terms of the many products possible from rope to clothes to alternative fuels. I had no idea you could make a good fuel out of cannabis to power cars for example. There is also a chapter on cannabis in religion. The references in the book are documented in the notes, and there is even a glossary so readers can keep all the slang and terms straight. The author in his preface is clear about his beliefs. He writes that "he believes that prohibition is flatly immoral and impossible to enforce. . .The author will attempt to bring you along into the anti-prohibitionist camp" (10). However, this does not mean he advocates breaking the law or smoking it. His arguments are very persuasive, and as I mentioned, very accessible with a casual tone. There are some humorous stories, and there are some moving moments as well such as the accounts of sick people using marijuana to ease their pain. This is a highly recommended book. It is entertaining and very informative, and it just may make you think a bit as well.

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