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Cannabis: A History [Hardcover]

Martin Booth
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

June 2004
To some it's the classic "gateway drug", to others it is a harmless way to relax, or provide relief from crippling pain. Some fear it is a dangerous drug with addictive properties; to others still it is a legal anomaly and should be decriminalized. Whatever the viewpoint, and by whatever name it is known, cannabis--or marijuana, hashish, dope, pot, weed, grass, ganja--incites debate at every level, and the effect it has on the cultures and economics of every corner of the globe is undeniable.

In this definitive study, Martin Booth crafts a tale of medical advance, religious enlightenment, political subterfuge and human rights; of law enforcement and custom officers, cunning smugglers, street pushers, gang warfare, writers, artists, musicians, and happy-go-lucky hippies and potheads.

Booth chronicles the fascinating and often mystifying process through which cannabis, a relatively harmless substance, became outlawed throughout the Western world, and the devastating effect such legislation has on the global economy. Above all, he demonstrates how the case for decriminalization remains one of the twenty-first century's hottest topics.

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From Publishers Weekly

Quick?what do Napoleon’s troops, Asian cooking, Armani jeans, the Gutenberg Bible and the Parke-Davis pharmaceutical company have in common? According to British novelist Booth (Opium; Hiroshima Joe; etc.), all of these have used some part of the versatile cannabis plant. In this densely packed, wide-ranging history, Booth draws on religion, history, ecology, horticulture, linguistics, pop culture and medical research to correct the falsehoods surrounding the oft-banned plant and to painstakingly build his case that the war on cannabis has little to do with concerns for public health or order. Along the way, Booth introduces a dizzying parade of historical persons that includes visionaries, scientists, beatniks, farmers, artists, soldiers and smugglers. Unlike many of the other more partisan books on cannabis, the overall tone of Booth’s volume is objective, unemotional and factual-a stance that makes for fine impartial argument, but also occasionally dull reading. At its best, however, the book’s attention to detail lures the reader ever more deeply into cannabis history. Descriptions of hip, mid-century New York, London and Amsterdam, for example, help illuminate the role of cannabis in more recent cultural movements. And a quick survey of the myths about the drug’s psychological effects shows how laws banning cannabis were often used as an excuse to suppress blacks and migrant Mexican workers. Booth also discusses provocative legal, political and economic actions (for and against cannabis) that have affected millions of people. In his profile of a plant that can be an intoxicant, fiber, cooking ingredient, medicine and potential source of environmentally friendly products, he gives readers a fascinating sourcebook about "the most widely produced, trafficked and used illicit drug on earth." Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Booth chronicles that "adaptive and highly successful annual found . . . throughout the temperate and tropical zones," cannabis, with the panache he exhibited in Opium (1998). Though the noble plant's precise origins are hazy, the name cannabis probably evolved from antecedents meaning fragrant cane. Whatever it has been called, it has been beloved and reviled by personages ranging from twelfth-century Sufi monks, who chewed it for its mood-altering properties, to anti-pot Depression-era federal agent Harry Anslinger and today's drug warriors. Favored by poets (Coleridge sought to wean himself from opium with it), musicians and actors (Gene Krupa and Robert Mitchum, both busted in Anslinger's "star-bust campaign"), and worse (black-magician Aleister Crowley, who put it in his recreational-substance armamentarium). Besides famous users, Booth discusses home-growing ganja and present-day international trafficking in it, though from a British perspective. His pithy coverage of Rastafarians is a particular treat. While no brief for legalization, Cannabis objectively raises points and issues threatening to zero-tolerance environments; more open collections, however, should welcome it. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Update your "About the Author" June 2 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is not a review. Martin Booth died at age 59 after an 18 month battle with cancer. You might want to update your "About the Author" which says he still lives in England.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars smoking!!!!! Jan. 9 2005
By El Zahrul - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Pot? Ganja? Marijuana ? The difference...??? Read on...
The author covers the historical development of a very controversial plant delicately.... Cannabis is traced back to ancient times where its usage was (and still is in some parts of the world)more medicinal and related to religious rites as opposed to recreational... The books also delves into the components of the plant itself,optimal growing conditions,growing locations... the active ingredient that gives consumers the BANG!!!

come to the middle of the book we are enlighten with how the move against cannabis was first born.... and later explain the stand of governments on cannabis....

the book covers cannabis from a historical and cultural point of view!!! I enjoyed it!!! a superb history!!!!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very necessary book May 11 2006
By James Carpenter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
By helping us see how we got to where we are today concerning cannabis, Martin Booth enables us to question the government propaganda about this plant, and the unconstitutional and oppressive methods employed to discourage its use, both as a medicine and a recreational drug. This is important, because the War on Drugs has done more to destroy our individual liberties than almost anything else our government does. If for no other reason, that makes this book a vital read for anyone who loves the liberties our founding fathers attempted to leave us.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good General History July 29 2009
By Cwn_Annwn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eyeopener.... Feb. 8 2009
By Melanie K. Mills - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Whether you are pro or anti legalization of marijuana use for adults or for medical use, it matters not. At least make an educated decision. Booth provides a well researched and engaging narrative on the history of cannabis and the foibles of those raging against the dangers of The Devil Weed, including hashish. Included are ancient times and maritime; prohibitions solely based on racism (Chinese, Africans and Mexicans); "lumping" mary jane in with opium, heroin and cocaine as if they all are the same thing, and the fear mongering of politicos and the press, most often with little or no personal experience or scientific fact. Economics of weed and hemp are also discussed. Easy to read and enlightening - a real eye-opener to the long and bumpy history and use of marijuana for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes over the centuries. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth hurts them, not you. Jan. 14 2014
By Zach G. Moldof - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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