Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific” as Want to Read:
Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  27 reviews
A bestselling author of Acid Dreams tells the great American pot story— a panoramic, character-driven saga that examines the medical, recreational, scientific, and economic dimensions of the world’s most controversial plant.

Martin A. Lee traces the dramatic social history of marijuana from its origins to its emergence in the 1960s as a defining force in a culture war that
ebook, 528 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Scribner (first published July 17th 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Smoke Signals, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Smoke Signals

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 652)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Here's a book that will turn you into a Libertarian. If you weren't distrustful of government before reading this very detailed social history of marijuana in the United States, after reading you will begin to question every position espoused by the powers that be. The War on Marijuana has proven to be a entirely wasteful and hurtful program, jailing thousands of people unnecessarily, persecuting ill citizens who were obviously being helped by the medicinal benefits of herb, wasting tax dollars, ...more
Wow, there was so much information in this book that it took some time to digest. This book tells the story of how cannabis became illegal. What started out in the US as a small time conspiracy mission to demoralize the controversial plant, quickly snowballed into an ignorant populous, hell-bent on eradicating the once common-place medicinal herb. What I found most interesting were the accounts of numerous studies (often ordered by the government) in attempts at discovering health concerns. The ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Harold rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone curious about cannabis
Martin A. Lee, investigative journalist, has written an articulate, compelling, fact-filled book on the social history of marijuana use in the United States and the corresponding prohibitionist mentality which has forever demonized the plant.
Now, with the states of Colorado and Washington legalizing adult recreational use of cannabis (Cannabis is the preferred scientific term for marijuana), this book is an excellently written, pertinent resource for anyone wanting to know more about this contro
Kudos to Martin A. Lee. He deserves the Pullitzer Prize and the National Book Award for this well documented, beautifully written and engaging book on a marvelous and ancient herbal medicine, probably the most clearly mistaken target of the U.S. Government's "War on [Some] Drugs". Perhaps you will become as furious as I did, reading about the U.S. government's decades-long war against its own citizens, one of the best indicators of a long-term slide towards totalitarianism. Although the governme ...more
Jason Matthews
Apr 17, 2015 Jason Matthews rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every adult
If you’re American, the documented facts in Smoke Signals on the US history of marijuana should outrage you. If you’re not American, you’ll understand the ludicrous and draconian US policy against industrial hemp and marijuana inflicted on its citizens for nearly a century. Author Martin A. Lee pulls no punches demonstrating how the US government has repeatedly screwed over the people in a misguided war that was doomed to fail from the start, a war with implications that are impossible to quanti ...more
Nathan Triz
Highly informative and thoroughly researched, this was hands down the best book on Marijuana I've ever read. I highly suggested that everyone gets their hands on a copy and read it immediately. It's sickening and disgusting to read about the horrible lies and bigotry that has gone on for years and years through pot prohibition and the thousands of lives that have been ruined because of it, but on the other hand it makes me feel proud to live in time where change is finally on the horizon.
Sam Brown
A revelation. Apparently the most useful plant in the world is illegal, not because it's dangerous, but because of money, misinformation and corruption. Apparently, contrary to popular belief (and backed by countless peer reviewed studies) Marijuana is actually potently anti cancer, has been and is still successfully used to aid/cure such a vast amount of human ailments, that it would be futile for me to attempt to list them. Basically it doesn't make you dumb (it promotes neurogenesis, it's neu ...more
I found this book helpful because it filled many gaps in my knowledge of the history of cannabis prohibition in the United States. Lee is thorough and concise, but the book is a bit preachy. The repetition of this type of story began early in the book: "X was an innocent [grandmother of 421 children / former police officer who realized the error of his ways / quadriplegic government bullying victim / etc.] and was a saintly bastion of righteousness in a dark and cruel world. Oh, by the way, they ...more
Definitely an interesting read. As a proponent for the legalization of marijuana, "Smoke Signals" really made me feel a lot more comfortable voicing my opinion, not only because after finishing it I had learned so much about the topic, but also because Lee makes the hard-to-disagree-with-argument that proponents of pot shouldn't be ostracized or treated differently or drug tested or rendered idiots.

He put in writing the sentiment many have felt for years--that marijuana has been wrongfully perse
This book is excellently researched, articulated, and source documented.

I think it can best be described as something of a "People's History of Cannabis" ala Howard Zinn. Wherein, the reader is introduced to the historical uses of cannabis, the roots of it's prohibition in the United States (and subsequent loss of knowledge about it) all the way to the present in it's truly grassroots organizing to reincarnate this wondrous weed back into it's very long historical status as a medication.

This boo
If you've ever wondered anything about marijuana then I highly recommend this book. Lee does a remarkable job of covering the history of marijuana. Included in here is how the plant initially became illegal in the US after being an accepted over the counter medicine for ages, the various laws over the years and the fight for recognition of the facts rather than the fallacies surrounding it.

I found the medical history especially interesting. The fact that there are receptors in the body specific
William Young
I spent 17 years in law enforcement during the beginning of the "war on drugs" and at the time I thought it was the right thing. Our government would not lie to us about something so critical. Our government would not build a decades long campaign that has cost billions and deprived so many of a fruitful life, based on a fiction, a lie! This book showed me they, government leaders and people who should know better, lied to the American people and cost many of our citizens to lose years of their ...more
Fact: any literature pertaining to the "war on drugs" makes me incredibly angry and a bit of a libertarian. If you take the time to read this book, you will quickly realize that you've been misinformed, possibly for years. Don't worry, there's plenty of outrage to go around.
While the author might have been overly enthusiastic about the herb's benefits, it is clear that our society made a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to its risks .
Michael Kallan
A fascinating and frustrating read at the same time. A very detailed look at the history of marijuana (primarily in the United States); Lee obviously has strong pro-legalization feelings, and they often come out in his writing. Yet I feel this some of this can and should be explained away by the frightening lack of objectivity the United States government (and to a lesser extent the media) has taken over the last 75 years when it comes to marijuana. Laws and regulations based in heresy and contr ...more
Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational, and Scientific by Martin A. Lee (Scribner 2012)(362.295) retells the history of marijuana with an emphasis on its place in U.S. culture. This book focuses on the battles that have taken place since 1980 in the fight to decriminalize and destigmatize this important plant that has been revered worldwide for many centuries as a medicine, a food, a textile, and a sacrament which was erroneously labeled as dangerous in the 1930's. ...more
Ben Ostrander
The author has an agenda but he still brings up MANY points that are to obvious to ignore. Learned much about Medical Marijuana I didn't know.
Zebulon Hollen
Smoke Signals challenges the deeply ingrained notions that nearly everyone learns growing up. "Marijuana causes lung cancer, marijuana leads to harder drug use, marijuana has no medical benefit". All these statements issued by the government, not to mention the war on drugs,are completely false. The scientific evidence is there! Martin Lee gives journal sources for the effectiveness of the plant. It's hard to convince someone that what they've always been taught is wrong but its time for change. ...more
This is a very interesting history of cannabis and hemp around the world and mostly since the prohibition in the U.S. It does get redundant in places tho for me that's ok as I dont remember facts the first time around usually. I am not done w the book yet and am listening to it so really like the narrator. He does a good job. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested as this is the next imho social barrier we need to overcome in the U.S. It is past time for removing the criminal ...more
Everyone should read this book.
Fascinating research, probably a must-read for all Americans as states begin legalizing pot. Though it had medical research, it was written for lay people. Enjoyable read, really. My only beef is that the author repeats himself, too often to be ignored. Other than that, it kept my attention even though I left it to read novels, came back, left and came back once more.
Very interesting reading.
Well researched and written. More info on cannibas than I really think I'll ever need to know but a useful addition to the library of a curious and concerned mom.
I had an expectation for this book, and that was fulfilled by the first 50 pages. This is a very interesting and informative book, and I highly recommend it.
Very informative and everyone that disagrees with weed being legalized should read this. Plus any stoner that wants to learn.
Natasha Small
It was good, but too much history about its marijaunas origins & started to sound redundant half way through.
Kim Kay
Kim Kay marked it as to-read
Nov 23, 2015
Alexia Babin
Alexia Babin marked it as to-read
Nov 19, 2015
LB marked it as to-read
Nov 16, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 21 22 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution
  • Pot Inc.: Inside Medical Marijuana, America's Most Outlaw Industry
  • Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?
  • Cannabis: A History
  • Reefer Madness: A History of Marijuana
  • Why Marijuana Should Be Legal
  • The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis: Its Role in Medicine, Politics, Science, and Culture
  • The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and the Conspiracy Against Marijuana
  • Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence
  • Saying Yes
  • 120 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature
  • Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States
  • Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas
  • Humboldt: Life on America's Marijuana Frontier
  • This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America
  • An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media
  • The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity
  • Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent

Share This Book

“Nietzsche, who called alcohol and Christianity “the two great European narcotics,” was not averse to the therapeutic use of cannabis. “To escape from unbearable pressure you need hashish,” Nietzsche wrote.” 1 likes
“the nineteenth century was an era of great personal freedom with respect to psychoactive substances. There were no laws against using hashish in Europe and North America, where any respectable person could walk into a pharmacy and choose from a range of cannabis tinctures and pastes. After the U.S. Civil War, Gunjah Wallah Hasheesh Candy (“a most pleasurable and harmless stimulant”) was available via mail order from Sears-Roebuck. The average American pretty much was at liberty to use any drug that he or she desired.” 1 likes
More quotes…