The best books about cannabis: learn all about marijuana and its culture.

To celebrate Book Day, in this post we want to show you a list of the best books about cannabis, the most relevant and the most recommended, according to our opinion, in the different topics surrounding this ancient plant: history, culture, cooking, science and therapeutic uses.

Books to dive into the world of cannabis

If we look at the cannabis plant through the eyes of history, its prohibition is a crazed outburst of modernity, daughter of the end of Prohibition and its unemployed mafia labor force, of the Great Depression of the 1930s, of the fashion of paternalistic states, and of the lobby of some big companies of those times, especially the chemical company Dupont. A ray of darkness in a luminous universe.

But digging into the history of the ban will be left for another post. The remarkable thing about this global cancellation, initiated almost 100 years ago, is that an attempt was made to erase a very rich history of the relationship between human beings and the magical plant, which the Swede Charles Linnaeus named Cannabis sativa L., in 1753.

The book as an object-treasure to preserve the memory of peoples is also key to what we know about the social origins of the cannabis plant. The first medicinal reference to the plant appears, for example, in a Chinese herbarium, the Pen Tsao Ching, from five millennia ago. The Vedic books mention it in their preparations for health care and, in fact, a well-argued hypothesis explains that the apocryphal Gospels speak of this herb as an ingredient of the Holy Anointing.

However, until the first half of the 20th century, modern man closed himself to the idea of knowing and understanding the cannabis plant (in order to understand himself a little), and he gave in to the demonizing idea that globalized thoughts.

That stigma about marijuana began to change in the 1970s, with the reconsideration of marijuana initiated by psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon – not without difficulty. Decades later, the regulation and legalization processes began and we went back to talking about what was prohibited. Finally, the expansion of the Internet allowed books about marijuana to start appearing again: about history, cooking, growing, economics, sociology. Currently the availability of “cannabis literature” is wide and global.

A recommendation of books on cannabis

This is a whimsical and referential list of the books that I consider most interesting to know and understand better our beloved cannabis. Some are available in Spanish, others in English.

Books on the history of cannabis and its culture: from its origins to the present day.

Of the many books I read on the history of the plant, I would like to highlight these first two, which were – and still are – a source of reference and information for my work and which I used for my own book:

Cannabis a History, Martin Booth
Cannabis a History, Martin Booth

Cannabis: A History, by Martin Booth (2003)

This is a fascinating and comprehensive book on the history of the cannabis plant and its relationship with mankind over the centuries. The English novelist Martin Booth (1944-2004) elaborated the history of the plant from medical advances and religious enlightenment.

The work is a detailed and well-documented narrative featuring political subterfuge and law enforcement; smugglers, traffickers, gangs, writers, artists and musicians. With all that, the author presents a comprehensive and objective analysis of the controversy surrounding cannabis, and focuses on unraveling the myths and misunderstandings that have arisen around this plant and which led to its prohibition throughout the Western world.

Smoke Signals, Martin A Lee
Smoke Signals, Martin A. Lee

Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana, by Martin A. Lee (2012).

Martin A. Lee, an investigative journalist, traces the dramatic social history of marijuana from its origins to its emergence in the 1960s as a defining force in an ongoing culture war. The author describes how the underground marijuana subculture overcame U.S. government opposition and transformed itself into a dynamic, multi-billion dollar industry.

History of marijuana - Fero Soriano
History of marijuana – Fero Soriano

Marijuana, the story. From Manuel Belgrano to the cannabis cups, by Fero Soriano (2017).

I wrote this book thinking about the adventures, the journey, the party, the struggle, healing and persecution that many of the users suffer and suffer. I looked for the historical route of this plant, from the China of 5,000 years ago to the cannabis cups of today. They are chronicles through which the ancestral relationship between humans and cannabis is recounted, the reconstruction of a history that has been denied for almost a century. With the voices of the underground, court battles, scientific advances, the supportive community of growers, religions, cinema and rock.

Marijuana Reconsidered - Lester Grinspoon MD
Marijuana Reconsidered – Lester Grinspoon MD

Marihuana Reconsidered, by Lester Grinspoon (1971)

Cannabis regulation in the United States is largely the child of the work of psychiatrist and Harvard professor Lester Grinspoon. In 1971 he published “Marijuana Reconsidered”, after researching the plant to convince a friend who consumed a lot of joints (the mysterious Mr. X, who in himself deserves another story) that it wasn’t good for him. The work he did literally turned his head. And Lester became a reference when it came to arguing for legalization.

In his book, Grinspoon, who even marched with John Lennon to the cry of “legalization,” shatters the myths, lies and distortions surrounding marijuana and its use. Is marijuana the first stepping stone to heroin addiction? Can prolonged marijuana use cause brain damage? Are crime and violence related to marijuana smoking? Does marijuana use lead to sexual debauchery? Can marijuana enhance creativity? Does smoking marijuana affect a person’s genetic balance? Will U.S. society change dramatically if marijuana is legalized? These were some of the questions Grinspoon, also author of “Marijuana, the forbidden medicine”, published in 1997 together with another prestigious physician, James B. Bakalar.

How to smoke marijuana and have a good trip: A sociological look, by Howard Becker.
How to Smoke Marijuana and Have a Good Trip: A Sociological Look, Howard Becker

How to Smoke Marijuana and Have a Good Trip: A Sociological Look, by Howard Becker (1953).

This book offers a fascinating sociological perspective on the recreational use of marijuana. Becker, a sociologist and jazz musician, challenges the traditional belief that marijuana use is related to individual psychological predisposition or mental health problems. Instead, he argues that marijuana use is the result of social learning and group interactions.

What if marijuana use had nothing to do with a psychological predisposition, as some still believe, much less with a psychological problem? What if it was the result of an apprenticeship? This is the question that Howard Becker asked himself at the beginning of the 50’s of the last century to understand the recreational use of marijuana, when everyone understood its consumption as an abuse.

The book delves into the idea that the sensations produced by marijuana are not automatically or necessarily pleasurable, but are acquired through social interactions and the ability to recognize and enjoy these effects. Becker convincingly shows that people develop motivation for recreational marijuana use when they learn to smoke it in a way that produces real effects and are able to appreciate the sensations they experience.

It is a classic must-read for anyone interested in understanding the role of social learning in recreational marijuana use. Becker, a true master of sociology, annihilates prejudice with a scathing text for the time. Bon voyage.

The Emperor is Naked - Jack Herer
The Emperor is Naked – Jack Herer

The Emperor is Naked, by Jack Herer (1985)

It is one of the most influential and iconic books on the history and use of the cannabis plant. First published in 1985, the book has become a cultural reference for marijuana legalization activists.

The title of the book refers to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (1837), in which a child reveals that the Emperor is not wearing an invisible dress, but is naked. In this essay, Jack Herer draws an analogy between the moral of the story and the falsity of the official theories against cannabis.

Herer explores the historical and cultural uses of hemp and marijuana, as well as their medicinal and therapeutic properties. He also presents arguments in favor of the legalization of marijuana and discusses drug policy in the United States when strict prohibitionism ruled.

One of the highlights of the book is its detailed analysis of the history of hemp and marijuana and their role in the world economy. Herer argues that marijuana prohibition is based on economic interests, and that the plant has been unfairly demonized throughout history.

Books on home cannabis cultivation

Marijuana: Cannabis horticulture. The medical grower's bible, by Jorge Cervantes
Marijuana: Cannabis horticulture. The medical grower’s bible, Jorge Cervantes

Marijuana: Cannabis horticulture. The Medical Grower’s Bible, by Jorge Cervantes (1983)

This is another classic of cannabis literature, written by American Jorge Cervantes in the early 1980s. Cervantes, also known as George Van Patten, is considered the guru of home self-cultivation. His comprehensive guide to cannabis cultivation has been translated into several languages, and was once banned in countries such as Australia and Canada.

The book touches on a wide variety of topics related to cannabis cultivation. It includes cultivation techniques, seed selection, substrates, lighting, ventilation, irrigation, fertilization, pests and diseases; outdoor and indoor techniques; harvesting and much more. Cervantes also includes a wealth of detailed information on the history of cannabis and its medicinal and therapeutic uses, with hundreds of photographs and infographics.

Books on the medicinal benefits of cannabis

Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana, by Dr. Andrew Weil MD and Michael Backes
Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana, by Dr. Andrew Weil MD and Michael Backes

Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana, by Dr. Andrew Weil MD and Michael Backes (2022)

This book, just published by Dr. Andrew Weil MD and Michael Backes, presents plant science in an easy-to-understand up-close manner and focuses on the main concepts without being overly technical.

It is a guide that offers a comprehensive look at medical cannabis medical cannabis A step-by-step guide on how to choose a suitable product and how to consume it; tips for a positive experience and even preparations and a sample diary for tracking progress in treatment. The book includes information on dosage, side effects and tips to keep in mind when using cannabis.

The Cannabis Pharmacy
The Cannabis Pharmacy

The Cannabis Pharmacy: A Complete Guide to CBD and THC Use, by Laurie Wolf and Mary Wolf (2021).

In the same style, The Cannabis Pharmacy, by renowned cannabis expert and writer Laurie Wolf, is another good guide to walking the cannabis path today, with formulas for making balms and massage oils, to birthday cakes and candy.

Cannabis cookbooks

The cannabis cookbook, Pamella Orgor
The cannabis cookbook, Pamella Orgor

The cannabis cookbook, by Pamella Orgor (2021)

Want to fly in gourmet style? Orgor presents in this book simple, creative and fun recipes to share and surprise. It contains over 25 delicious recipes including cannabis gummy bears, breakfasts, brownies and oils. Also with baked sweets and mind-blowing savory treats.

There are quick and easy recipes, from a cannahoney to a spinach and cannabis quiche for an unforgettable brunch, to cannabis-infused Hungarian pancakes. A book designed to make cooking cannabis easy, simple and fun, where the author combines simple recipes for beginners with other preparations for more advanced cooks: cannabis pancakes, cannabis chocolate fudge, cookies and much more.

So much for recommendations!

There are many excellent books on cannabis that can provide you with an interesting and entertaining read. Celebrate Book Day in a unique and meaningful way: Give cannabis flowers and a beautiful book to someone special. Happy Book Day!

Fero Soriano
Periodista especializado en la historia del cannabis. Autor del libro "Marihuana, la historia. De Manuel Belgrano a las copas cannábicas". En poco más de dos décadas de periodismo, fue distinguido [...]

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