Smoke Signals

A Social History of Marijuana : Medical, Recreational, and Scientific

Lee, Martin A.

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Smoke Signals
Investigative journalist Martin A. Lee traces the social history of marijuana from its origins to its emergence in the 1960s as a defining force in an ongoing culture war. Lee describes how the illicit marijuana subculture overcame government opposition and morphed into a multibillion-dollar industry. In 1996, Californians voted to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Similar laws have followed in several other states, but not without antagonistic responses from federal, state, and local law enforcement. Lee draws attention to underreported scientific breakthroughs that are reshaping the therapeutic landscape: medical researchers have developed promising treatments for cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes, chronic pain, and many other conditions that are beyond the reach of conventional cures. This is a fascinating read for recreational users and patients, students and doctors, musicians and accountants, Baby Boomers and their kids, and anyone who has ever wondered about the secret life of this ubiquitous herb.--From publisher description.

Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2012
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 1439102600
Branch Call Number: 362.29509 L4792s 2012
Characteristics: vii, 519 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

What did Louis Armstrong, Shakespeare, Rimbaud, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Baudelaire, and Yeats have in common? Did you know the first documented use of cannabis for medical purposes was in 2700 BCE?

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Sep 21, 2012
  • binational rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This book is useful in several ways:

1) It gives an excellent history of what can only be called the national persecution of cannabis users, including users with very legitimate medical needs.

2) It summarizes the findings of numerous official commissions in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S., all of which concluded that cannabis was not a serious threat either to society or public health, and recommended decriminalization, but that were simply ignored for political/cultural reasons.

3) It debunks the false science used to try to justify continued maintenance of draconian laws that have made the U.S. #1 in the world in its rate of incarceration.

On the other hand, the book suffers from obvious bias. Lee is an unabashed cannabis booster, and cannot refrain from arguing that cannabis is a miracle drug that can cure everything from cancer to Alzheimer's disease. Lee debunks false science, but dishes up plenty of his own in support of his favorite treat.


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