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Cannabis: A History

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  315 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
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
Paperback, 448 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Picador (first published 2003)
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Jul 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jeffrey William
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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!
Dec 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Cassie Walker
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drug-history
A very good history of cannabis that I would recommend to people who partake in it and also people who are against it.
Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
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 ...more
John Constantine
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rated-five-stars
"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."

Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent historical overview
May 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A great historical overview!
Margaretha Quina
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
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!
Aug 18, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
William Brant
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book, thoroughly researched and enjoyable.
Jim Rossi
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Puff, puff... pass. Good solid history. Dry writing style, but chock full 'o dank nugs o' knowledge.
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a little bit too dry for me and at times it just didn't hold my attention and interest.

Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
well researched book into the history of the plant, also revealing the history of Britain's past attitudes. An excellent book, not just for pot heads.
Michele Langston
rated it it was amazing
Mar 29, 2014
Cleator Justin
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Dec 01, 2015
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Jul 26, 2015
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Feb 28, 2013
Chris Batterson
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Jul 12, 2012
Peter Ek
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Jul 13, 2013
Maya Woloszyn
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May 26, 2015
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Aug 12, 2015
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Apr 14, 2015
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Martin Booth was a prolific British novelist and poet. He also worked as a teacher and screenwriter, and was the founder of the Sceptre Press.
More about Martin Booth...