A New Crop of Pot Books

by Tina Neville, Univ.of South Florida, St. Petersburg Lib.

Campos, Isaac. Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs. Univ. of North Carolina. 2012. c.344p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807835388. $39.95.    LAW

Though controversy continues to surround the impact of Mexican drug trafficking on the United States, marijuana was considered extremely dangerous in Mexico long before it became an issue here. Campos (history, Univ. of Cincinnati) examines hundreds of Mexican news articles and primary sources to illustrate the role of marijuana in 19th- and early 20th-century Mexico. His careful analysis of the history and culture of the emerging Mexican nation illustrates marijuana as associated primarily with prisoners and soldiers and perceived by the general public to lead to madness and violence. His thorough treatment of 19th-century Mexico’s antidrug philosophy helps to explain how that particular history impacts drug policy in the United States today. VERDICT This well organized, exhaustively referenced history is highly recommended, particularly for academic libraries.

starred review star Caulkins, Jonathan P. & others. Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford Univ. 2012. c.288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199913732. pap. $16.95.        LAW

Though a slew of current books weigh in on the question of marijuana legalization, most are heavily slanted for or against. Using a question-and-answer format, Caulkins (operations research & public policy, Carnegie Mellon Univ.; coauthor, Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know) and his colleagues, all experts in public policy, look at multiple sides of the marijuana issue. How the drug is produced and distributed, its risks and benefits, and possible middle-ground options between full legalization and strict prohibition are all considered. What becomes obvious is how much is still unknown about this substance (and why), yet these experts provide refreshingly honest and coherent opinions on many relevant issues. VERDICT This definitively comprehensive, well-written, and well-balanced work on the marijuana controversy is highly recommended.

Fine, Doug. Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution. Gotham: Penguin Group (USA). Aug. 2012. c.320p. index. ISBN 9781592407095. $27.          ECON

Already a strong critic of the United States’ War on Drugs, journalist Fine (Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living) moves to Mendocino County, California, to investigate their 9.31 ordinance, a local regulation that allowed medical marijuana growers to cultivate 99 marijuana plants per parcel of land. (The ordinance has since been repealed.) Following the life of a single plant he names Lucille, Fine observes it from planting, through harvest, to sale and distribution to patients. Frustrated by the huge amount of government money spent on criminalization of the product, Fine contends that legalizing cannabis would not only lead to great improvements in its medicinal quality but could also provide a positive impact on the U.S. economy through taxation and permits, as well as from the industrial use of hemp. VERDICT Though obviously pro-legalization and, at times, a bit rambling, this book is recommended for its in-depth discussion of how marijuana could be grown legally and responsibly.

Higdon, James. The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History. Lyons: Globe Pequot. 2012. c.368p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780762778232. $24.95. CRIME

In the late 1980s one of the largest drug busts in U.S. history culminated when a group of 70 individuals from Kentucky were finally taken into custody. The group, who eventually became known as the Cornbread Mafia, was responsible for growing 182 tons of marijuana. After the repeal of Prohibition, some Kentuckians used the skills they learned making moonshine to become exceedingly successful at marijuana production, which, by the 1980s, led to a lengthy and expensive government investigation. Journalist Higdon, who was raised in the area, understands the economic and historical incentives that caused the Cornbread mafia to embrace the marijuana business and how their upbringing led to their remarkable solidarity and code of silence. VERDICT While interesting, the work could benefit from better organization and greater focus. It will be primarily of interest to readers in the Kentucky area or those with scholarly interest in drug enforcement.

Rendon, Jim. Super-Charged: How Outlaws, Hippies and Scientists Reinvented Marijuana. Timber. Sept. 2012. c.256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781604692952. $24.95.           LAW

Readers looking for a good overview on marijuana cultivation, its potential for commercialization by pharmaceutical companies, and legalization options will find this volume helpful. Using extensive interviews with breeders and growers, freelance writer Rendon examines how the underground, unregulated cannabis-growing movement helped to make the industry and the product what it is today. He goes into some detail on the differences in strains and potencies as well as how the medical and illegal markets overlap, impact one another, and co-evolve. One of this book’s strengths is its attention to the dedication and care growers take as they work to provide a quality, healthy product for their medical customers. VERDICT Though not nearly as comprehensive as Caulkins’s Marijuana Legislation, Rendon’s useful, relatively balanced overview is recommended for readers looking for a concise analysis.

Rosenthal, Ed & Kathy Imbriani. Marijuana: Pest & Disease Control: How to Protect Your Plants and Win Back Your Garden. Quick American Archives. 2012. 256p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780532551047. pap. $24.95.           GARDENING

Renowned marijuana grower and advocate Rosenthal (Marijuana Grower’s Handbook: Your Complete Guide for Medical and Personal Marijuana Cultivation) offers a new growing guide that focuses on pest controls that are generally considered safe for the final product and the environment. Well organized, with spectacular color photography and a low-key, humorous style, this volume covers basic preparation and sterilization of seeds and soil as well as providing identification and background information on a wide variety of pests, including insects, mammals, fungi, and viruses. Each section concludes with a variety of solutions ranging from barrier controls to pesticide or biological control. Both indoor and outdoor cultivation are discussed in this highly readable volume. VERDICT Recommended for libraries in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This book may also be of use for libraries with large gardening collections because of its emphasis on low-impact pest control.

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