As we mentally prepare for a full month of COVID-19 quarantine ahead, cannabis and books are two go-to saviors (best enjoyed together) from social media screen time and the barrage of bad news. Whether you’re an industry insider reeling from conference cancellations, an entrepreneur looking to get into the business, or just want to learn more about legalization, I’ve curated a coronavirus cannabis reading list from my own library for these trying times. From two classics authored by pioneering activists to an Emily Post Institute-approved guide on marijuana manners, here are ten texts to take a casual cannabis consumer to an expert-level enthusiast.
Note: Books are listed alphabetically, not ranked. Now stay home and stay high.
‘Brave New Weed’
By Joe Dolce, 2016
Joe Dolce, former editor-in-chief of Details and Star, ventures into the “brave new world” of legal cannabis, traveling the globe to trace its history and plot its future. From Amsterdam and Israel to California and Colorado, Brave New Weed shares outlandish stories of murder trials where defendants claimed “insanity due to marijuana consumption” to groundbreaking success stories about the plant’s impressive medicinal benefits and all of the changing attitudes and cultural shifts in between. Since its debut, Dolce has also launched an eponymous podcast with new episodes produced bi-weekly.
‘The Cannabis Dictionary’
By Alex Halperin, 2020
In this illustrated A-to-Z cannabis compendium, renowned cannabis journalist Alex Halperin guides you through every aspect of the magical marijuana plant. From facts and falsehoods to THC and CBD, hundreds of entries share a practical perspective behind the cannabis revolution and the culture that has unfolded around it. Also the founder and host of WeedWeek, Halperin’s handbook is intelligent, fresh and accessible for both new and experienced cannabis consumers alike.
‘The Cannabis Manifesto’
By Steve DeAngelo, 2015
Written by “the father of the legal cannabis industry” — according to the Hon. Willie L Brown, former Speaker of the California Assembly and Mayor of San Francisco — The Cannabis Manifestochronicles the unintended consequences of prohibition while imagining the future of cannabis as a consumer good. As founder and CEO of Harborside, one of the first six licensed dispensaries in the U.S. and now publicly traded, DeAngelo’s account is an essential primer into his life’s work as a warrior for reversing the War on Drugs and an entrepreneur who has shaped the legal cannabis landscape. Plus, he shares his unparalleled knowledge of the cannabis plant itself using science to shed light on its spiritual, biological, and mental effects and benefits.
‘Grass Roots: A History of Cannabis in the American West’
By Nick Johnson, 2017
Former freelance journalist Nick Johnson traded news for history to uncover the controversial roots of the cannabis plant in the American West. Applying his environmental eye, Johnson looks at past growing practices in the region and how federal prohibition promoted unsustainable farming techniques, which have carried over into the legal era, making cannabis cultivation anything but green. Unregulated outdoor grows pollute ecosystems, high-powered indoor grows create an excessive carbon footprint, and an unprecedented water crisis is ahead. Grass Roots challenges the current cannabis industry to change its course.
‘GREEN: A Field Guide to Marijuana’
By Dan Michaels & Erik Christiansen, 2014
This eye-popping coffee-table textbook is required reading for those dedicated to studying cannabis strains and admiring their intricacies through hyper-detailed photography of individual buds. Green: A Field Guide to Marijuana explores the culture of this complex flower, while explaining the botany that makes each varietal unique through descriptions of lineage, flavor, and type of high.
By Lizzie Post, 2019
Amid the “post-prohibition” era, the stigma surrounding smoking pot is fading, and the conversation about how and why we get high is changing. In Higher Etiquette, Lizzie Post — great-great granddaughter of the Emily Post and current co-president of the institute bearing her name — celebrates cannabis culture’s long-established norms while exploring exactly what modern marijuana etiquette entails. This party-friendly guide asks and answers questions including: how to bring it to a dinner party or give it as a gift; why eating it is different from inhaling it; how to respectfully use it as a guest; how to be behave at a dispensary and more.
‘How to Smoke Pot (Properly)’
By David Bienenstock, 2016
Veteran cannabis journalist David Bienenstock charts a course from cannabis culture’s transformation from a once demonized to a now celebrated place in society. In How to Smoke Pot (Properly), the author instructs just that with pro-tips from his friends in “high places” paired with historical anecdotes and a lively Q&A section including common queries like: “How can I land a legal pot job”? and “Should I eat a weed cookie before boarding the plane?” This all-encompassing guide to the green life also maps out the marijuana plant’s natural lifecycle from farm to pipe, explores cannabis customs, culture and travel, and shares how to best utilize and appreciate the herbal remedy as a life-changing medicine and a useful industrial crop and renewable energy source.
‘It’s NORML to Smoke Pot’
By Keith Stroup, 2013
Keith Strop has been fighting for marijuana legalization for four decades through NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), the pioneering nonprofit organization he founded in 1970. In the first-ever personal account of its tumultuous-turned-victorious history, It’s NORML to Smoke Pot will introduce you to the colorful cast of characters like Hunter S. Thompson and Willie Nelson who helped along the way and give you behind-the-scenes insight into how prohibition shaped political policy today.
By Eric Schlosser, 2003
This is a pre-legalization look at the illicit market in the U.S., which then was much larger than most realized, and how it affected Americans’ lives whether they smoked pot or not. Journalist and author Eric Schlosser takes his award-winning, exacting eye into the underbelly of capitalism and examines the far-reaching influence of marijuana, porn, and immigrants on society. Reefer Madness also draws compelling comparisons between underground and overground: the rise and fall of tycoons and gangsters; how new technology shaped the market, why government intervention reinvigorated illegal activity; and how big business learned — and profited.
‘The Ultimate Guide to CBD’
By Jamie Evans, 2020
In a sea of misinformation in the evolving CBD wellness space, it’s refreshing to read an in-depth companion compiled by a true expert. Jamie Evans not only has pioneered the intersection of wine, gourmet cuisine, and cannabis, but has also experienced the healing benefits of the plant firsthand. First breaking down the history and science of cannabinoids, The Ultimate Guide to CBD is the perfect introduction to live an all-encompassing CBD lifestyle at every age. It’s also packed with pro tips for self-care along with recipes for infused oils, refreshing drinks, and light bites thanks to her extensive network of industry leaders.