Pot Culture: Science & Technology reviews, June 1, 2012

Campbell, Greg. Pot, Inc.: Inside Medical Marijuana, America’s Most Outlaw Industry. Sterling. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781402779251. $22.95. MED

Is legalizing marijuana for medical purposes primarily a cover for increasing access for recreational use, or will legalization chiefly provide medical relief to patients with few other options while also fostering a more open dialog about this controversial substance? Although a number of states now allow marijuana for medical use, it is still illegal under federal law. Citing curiosity as his motive, Campbell (Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History) sought an insider’s view into cannabis culture. The author, who lives in Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal under state law, gets approved as a medical user, attends cannabis conventions, studies cannabis horticulture, and interviews advocates and DEA officials to learn more about this way of life. VERDICT With humor (e.g., explaining to his teenage son about the pot growing in their basement and trying to cover the pervasive smell from neighbors) and compassion (e.g., in interviews with patients who have found relief only through marijuana), Campbell provides an absorbing and thought-provoking firsthand look at this hotly debated issue. Recommended. ‚ Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Lib.

Frank, Matthew Gavin. Pot Farm. Univ. of Nebraska. 2012. c.232p. ISBN 9780803237841. pap. $16.95. SCI

Poet Frank (creative writing, Northern Michigan Univ.; Barolo) follows his last book, a memoir of his time in the Italian wine industry, with this story about another part of his life in a different kind of farming operation. Opening by explaining he may be stoned (he freely admits to being an unreliable narrator), he recalls the circumstances that led him and his wife to work for a medical marijuana farm in a secret location in Northern California. Filled with accounts of laboring as and with field pickers, snipers perched in treetops, and Lady Wanda (the reefer heiress and owner of the farm), the book offers a perspective on what it takes to make a living in this particular under-the-table industry. VERDICT Best suited for memoir fanatics. Some readers may take offense at Frank’s blunt, crude language and descriptions, but others will relish his dark humor in recounting interactions among husband, wife, fellow workers, and Lady Wanda. ‚ Kyrille Goldbeck DeBose, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ. Lib., Blacksburg