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To some it's the classic "gateway drug," to others it is a harmless way to relax, or provide relief from pain. Some fear it is dangerous and addictive, while others feel it should be decriminalized. Whatever the viewpoint, cannabis incites debate at every level, and the effect it has on every corner of the globe is undeniable. In this comprehensive study, Martin Booth craft To some it's the classic "gateway drug," to others it is a harmless way to relax, or provide relief from pain. Some fear it is dangerous and addictive, while others feel it should be decriminalized. Whatever the viewpoint, cannabis incites debate at every level, and the effect it has on every corner of the globe is undeniable. In this comprehensive study, Martin Booth crafts a tale of medical advance and religious enlightenment; of political subterfuge and law enforcement; of cunning smugglers, street pushers, gang warfare, writers, artists, and musicians. And above all, Booth chronicles the fascinating process through which cannabis became outlawed throughout the Western world, and the effect such legislation has had on the global economy.


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To some it's the classic "gateway drug," to others it is a harmless way to relax, or provide relief from pain. Some fear it is dangerous and addictive, while others feel it should be decriminalized. Whatever the viewpoint, cannabis incites debate at every level, and the effect it has on every corner of the globe is undeniable. In this comprehensive study, Martin Booth craft To some it's the classic "gateway drug," to others it is a harmless way to relax, or provide relief from pain. Some fear it is dangerous and addictive, while others feel it should be decriminalized. Whatever the viewpoint, cannabis incites debate at every level, and the effect it has on every corner of the globe is undeniable. In this comprehensive study, Martin Booth crafts a tale of medical advance and religious enlightenment; of political subterfuge and law enforcement; of cunning smugglers, street pushers, gang warfare, writers, artists, and musicians. And above all, Booth chronicles the fascinating process through which cannabis became outlawed throughout the Western world, and the effect such legislation has had on the global economy.

30 review for Cannabis: A History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey William

    very very extensive history! of a plant i enjoy. it starts from ancient times, to tribal cultures, to literary circles in late 1800s, to early jazz, to the 60s counter culture, aslingers zealous campaign against it (hence the over-extreme paranoid stances of today) and beyond. he discusses uses for industrial applications and more so using as a mind altering substance. there are a lot of interesting details of usages by artists, writers, and musicians a lot of us love. how it was smuggled throug very very extensive history! of a plant i enjoy. it starts from ancient times, to tribal cultures, to literary circles in late 1800s, to early jazz, to the 60s counter culture, aslingers zealous campaign against it (hence the over-extreme paranoid stances of today) and beyond. he discusses uses for industrial applications and more so using as a mind altering substance. there are a lot of interesting details of usages by artists, writers, and musicians a lot of us love. how it was smuggled through time and hot spots of cultivation were covered well. took me a while to get through it, not because it's boring, but its extensive, in a good way. i finished with much more knowledge of the history and impact this plant has had on our world....which is probably more immense than people imagine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Max

    It's extremely difficult to come by any well-researched, reliable, and generally impartial material on this plant. Those writing about it are generally either of the opinion that it's a Satanic weed sent to destroy our way of life or convinced that it's the holy Tree of Life from which all wisdom and joy are derived. Booth, meanwhile, is even-handed and thorough, providing an incredible amount of information about the history of this plant as well as its many uses—not just as an intoxicant, but It's extremely difficult to come by any well-researched, reliable, and generally impartial material on this plant. Those writing about it are generally either of the opinion that it's a Satanic weed sent to destroy our way of life or convinced that it's the holy Tree of Life from which all wisdom and joy are derived. Booth, meanwhile, is even-handed and thorough, providing an incredible amount of information about the history of this plant as well as its many uses—not just as an intoxicant, but also as a medication, fiber, and base material for plastics and fuel. In doing so, he dispels many commonly believed myths about the plant and uncovers the appallingly racist origins of draconian modern drug prohibition policy. The book is a bit dry in passages, but that's only to be expected of so thorough an overview. An excellent read—I'm glad it caught my eye on the sale table at the Strand.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cwn_annwn_13

    There were areas I wish he would have went more in depth with, like how the coffeehouse scene in Holland came into existance and other areas I wasn't as interested in, like hippy pop culture. Also he overemphasizes a lot of things that went on in Britain, which historicly isn't exactly the epicenter for Marijuana activity and culture. The author isn't a stoner, or at least doesn't come off as one, but he seems to be pro-Cannabis at least to the extent of showing the stupidity of the law enforcem There were areas I wish he would have went more in depth with, like how the coffeehouse scene in Holland came into existance and other areas I wasn't as interested in, like hippy pop culture. Also he overemphasizes a lot of things that went on in Britain, which historicly isn't exactly the epicenter for Marijuana activity and culture. The author isn't a stoner, or at least doesn't come off as one, but he seems to be pro-Cannabis at least to the extent of showing the stupidity of the law enforcement witchhunts against what is more or less a harmless "drug". Overall a good general history of Cannabis.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cassie Walker

    This book seems like it would only belong on the shelf of a stoner, but shouldn't be- it is a really interesting perspective on world history; tackling racism, culture and ethics with a focus on religion, government, and art. This book seems like it would only belong on the shelf of a stoner, but shouldn't be- it is a really interesting perspective on world history; tackling racism, culture and ethics with a focus on religion, government, and art.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sophy H

    Really impressive text on the origins, history, culture, health implications and legality of cannabis. Martin Booth has clearly researched the subject extensively, and his broad knowledge comes across in his writing, which is fascinating and informative. As always, anything that is natural and has health benefits is lambasted by the "authorities", banned, censored, prohibited, then sanitised and synthesised by those same arseholes trying to sell it back to people at a profit!! A great read. Really impressive text on the origins, history, culture, health implications and legality of cannabis. Martin Booth has clearly researched the subject extensively, and his broad knowledge comes across in his writing, which is fascinating and informative. As always, anything that is natural and has health benefits is lambasted by the "authorities", banned, censored, prohibited, then sanitised and synthesised by those same arseholes trying to sell it back to people at a profit!! A great read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Willow

    A very interesting book about a plant that has been unfairly given a bad rap. Looks at the role cannabis has played in almost every aspect of human existence from agriculture to counter culture. Also shows how cannabis has been blacklisted for so many wrong reasons. Very illuminating. Should be read by more politicians, law officers and critics, as well as anyone who has ever had an interest in "the herb". I highly recommend this book! A very interesting book about a plant that has been unfairly given a bad rap. Looks at the role cannabis has played in almost every aspect of human existence from agriculture to counter culture. Also shows how cannabis has been blacklisted for so many wrong reasons. Very illuminating. Should be read by more politicians, law officers and critics, as well as anyone who has ever had an interest in "the herb". I highly recommend this book!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    A very well rounded, open look at this oft maligned, but also extraordinary plant. Covers many interesting aspects of Cannabis' influence throughout history - from the ancient Hindu traditions in India, to the truth behind the legendary Assassins, and touching upon many of the 19th and 20th century figures that are essential to the drug counterculture; Aleister Crowley, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and Harry Anslinger, among others. Also reveals many lesser known facts and historical events. A A very well rounded, open look at this oft maligned, but also extraordinary plant. Covers many interesting aspects of Cannabis' influence throughout history - from the ancient Hindu traditions in India, to the truth behind the legendary Assassins, and touching upon many of the 19th and 20th century figures that are essential to the drug counterculture; Aleister Crowley, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and Harry Anslinger, among others. Also reveals many lesser known facts and historical events. A great read for history buffs and enthusiasts alike.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scottiev

    A little slow and dry at the beginning but once you realize how far back the history of Mary Jane telescopes back, makes one ask why this plant with so much history is the most hated next to morning glories.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Epiphanous! When I learned that botanists created a new family of plants in order to properly classify cannabis (hemp) and humulus (hops), I achieved a rare moment of total clarity.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    A very good history of cannabis that I would recommend to people who partake in it and also people who are against it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zacharias

    I am not going to lie, I have learned a lot from this book. It's pretty eye opening in regards to the racism and ill-informed policies that resulted in the War on Drugs that continues to this day. I am not going to lie, I have learned a lot from this book. It's pretty eye opening in regards to the racism and ill-informed policies that resulted in the War on Drugs that continues to this day.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tippy Jackson

    Abandoned not because it wasn't good, but because I have way too much in my queue and I really don't need to know this much about any one plant right now. This book is exhaustive to say the least. Many, many details of the ecology, properties, history and biology of Cannabis plants, of which there are many varieties that are also described in detail and their uses listed. If I ever need info on Cannabis, I will grab this book again, but until then, I think I'm good. I would definitely recommend Abandoned not because it wasn't good, but because I have way too much in my queue and I really don't need to know this much about any one plant right now. This book is exhaustive to say the least. Many, many details of the ecology, properties, history and biology of Cannabis plants, of which there are many varieties that are also described in detail and their uses listed. If I ever need info on Cannabis, I will grab this book again, but until then, I think I'm good. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for information on Cannabis. It is well written, although removed from any feeling, and a professional, interesting look at Cannabis facts.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Constantine

    A more accurate title might have included the word "cultural" before "history," because this excellent volume does particularly well in not abstracting its subject from the context in which it is most valued. I've read other reviews that bemoan Booth's sonorous writing style (and I've read the same thing about Hofstadter), but I found it to be a lively and very engaging study. Of particular note is the astute commentary on cannabis' political uses. I highly recommend this work. A more accurate title might have included the word "cultural" before "history," because this excellent volume does particularly well in not abstracting its subject from the context in which it is most valued. I've read other reviews that bemoan Booth's sonorous writing style (and I've read the same thing about Hofstadter), but I found it to be a lively and very engaging study. Of particular note is the astute commentary on cannabis' political uses. I highly recommend this work.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    "Cannabis is non-toxic. No deaths have been recorded from overdosing. Indeed, it has been suggested that it would take 800 joints to kill, coming from carbon monoxide rather than cannabinoid poisoning. By comparison 300 ml of vodka or 60 mg of nicotine would be lethal." "Cannabis is non-toxic. No deaths have been recorded from overdosing. Indeed, it has been suggested that it would take 800 joints to kill, coming from carbon monoxide rather than cannabinoid poisoning. By comparison 300 ml of vodka or 60 mg of nicotine would be lethal."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cho

    Excellent comprehensive history. Extremely well researched. Not a far out groovy trippy read but a straight ahead history. This guy covers it all. The sections about pot legislation are my favorite.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Niko

    A great historical overview!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    Excellent historical overview

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fraser

    I found this to be a little bit too dry for me and at times it just didn't hold my attention and interest. I found this to be a little bit too dry for me and at times it just didn't hold my attention and interest.

  19. 5 out of 5

    George McCombe

    The prohibition of cannabis is a continuing embarrassment to much of the Western world. Billions of dollars squandered, countless policing hours wasted, innumerable lives ruined and many a decent party brought to an untimely end. And for what reason? Unfounded panic over reefer madness and gate-way drugs? How exactly did we find ourselves in this situation? Why has a drug that has caused no recorded fatalities depicted as such a frightening substance? From whence does such hysteria originate? Ha The prohibition of cannabis is a continuing embarrassment to much of the Western world. Billions of dollars squandered, countless policing hours wasted, innumerable lives ruined and many a decent party brought to an untimely end. And for what reason? Unfounded panic over reefer madness and gate-way drugs? How exactly did we find ourselves in this situation? Why has a drug that has caused no recorded fatalities depicted as such a frightening substance? From whence does such hysteria originate? Has it always been this way? In this extremely entertaining history of the much maligned weed, Martin Booth answers these questions and many more as he traces the fascinating history of cannabis cultivation and use through the eras and cultures up the present day. The average person having a secret spliff is likely to be totally unaware of the exotic and versatile use of what is, next to alcohol, the most commonly used intoxicant in human history. From hash-smoking Persian assassins to beatnik poets and everything in between, Booth’s history is filled with detail and anecdote in describing the contrasts and repeats of societies in both extolling and condemning the medicinal, recreational and spiritual properties of cannabis. Booth is an excellent writer and his account is lively and at times passionate. This is not a manifesto for the legalization of pot. Booth does not shy away from the negative associations with cannabis, although much of these are shown to be exaggerated or outright fabrications. Nevertheless, the use of any intoxicants carries risks as all societies, including our own, have recognized and dealt with. It is, however, difficult to read this without realizing that we are repeating the mistakes of previous generations. The history of cannabis is a testimony to the fact that there is a universal desire amongst people for intoxication to various degrees. Some societies have tried to stamp it out, others tolerated it and some channelled it and even celebrated it within a defined context. This hugely enjoyable THC infused lark through history will lead likely many reviewers to judge our societies current approach as severely wanting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Margaretha Quina

    Sooo entertaining, full of information about the plant's biography from its earliest use to the fact-twisting era of this useful species! I loooove how Booth narrated the rotten rationale behind the cannabis legislation in the US and around the world. It's bad, bad law motivated by disgusting causes. Quoting the Independent: "This book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in human freedoms and bad laws." Indeed! Sooo entertaining, full of information about the plant's biography from its earliest use to the fact-twisting era of this useful species! I loooove how Booth narrated the rotten rationale behind the cannabis legislation in the US and around the world. It's bad, bad law motivated by disgusting causes. Quoting the Independent: "This book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in human freedoms and bad laws." Indeed!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Holden Roy

    This book is straight fire. The historical breakdown of Mary Jane across history is astounding. The corruption in its criminalization is interesting. I only got bored in the last chapter as it was exploring the state of weed as I entered adulthood, and was the only time I felt I was familiar with what was discussed. A must read for our culture in my humble opinion.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Geri Dorsey

    I wrote a weekly column about medical cannabis in California for Vice for almost a year. This book was hugely informative in my research. I cannot recommend it enough for those who seek to comprehend why cannabis is illegal right now, and who made it that way.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jzmom

    Anyone who would like to know more about Cannabis, be it for medicinal reasons and/or as a "Marijuana" afficionado should certainly put this book on their reading list. Anyone who would like to know more about Cannabis, be it for medicinal reasons and/or as a "Marijuana" afficionado should certainly put this book on their reading list.

  24. 5 out of 5

    kurt Martin

    Great One!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    This is an excellent book . A concise work full of facts . The history is fascinating . Brilliant in depth and focus.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dominic Trinajstic

    Well researched, level-headed perspective on marijuana, though it is definitely written from a european/western-centric viewpoint.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Dawson

    A through and comprehensive review of this fascinating plant. An insight into the dark side of efforts to suppress it. Essential reading for the interested.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carlos G

    interesting book, tells human history from ancient times to present, according to the famous herb.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zachariah

    "Yet, as a society, we seem unable to accept that one drug and plant beyond all the others is essentially benign and offers so much. "It may be that, in time, perceptions will shift and we will take the beneficence the cannabis plant has to give. Meanwhile, we must learn to admit it into our lives and our society, where it has had a presence, like it or not, for generations. And, perhaps, it is now time we stopped blinding ourselves with our narrow-minded bigotry and started, as the hippie jargon "Yet, as a society, we seem unable to accept that one drug and plant beyond all the others is essentially benign and offers so much. "It may be that, in time, perceptions will shift and we will take the beneficence the cannabis plant has to give. Meanwhile, we must learn to admit it into our lives and our society, where it has had a presence, like it or not, for generations. And, perhaps, it is now time we stopped blinding ourselves with our narrow-minded bigotry and started, as the hippie jargon of the Swinging 60s would have put it, to 'get real.'" Written in 2003 I learned so much about weed and how fucking stupid the fight to make it illegal was, I'm honestly just super pissed. If you want the short version of this book, google "Harry J Anslinger."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alfred

    I think histories of just about any drug - opium, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, meth - would be interesting. And so it goes with the history of cannabis. Booth is an excellent researcher and a capable wordsmith. This book covers the topic pretty comprehensively but is not overly inspiring. Still, seems to be the top pick for a general look at a very topical drug.

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