With so many possible applications for non-psychoactive cannabis-infused topicals, the market segment’s broad appeal has helped legitimize marijuana as medicine even among demographic groups traditionally resistant to using pot. Schwarting explains that at the beginning of every school year, she hands out Kush Creams gift baskets to her children’s teachers, principal and school bus drivers. “I believe in being transparent about what we’re doing,” she says. “I love being the product that bridges that gap.”
Booth chronicles that "adaptive and highly successful annual found . . throughout the temperate and tropical zones," cannabis, with the panache he exhibited in Opium (1998). Though the noble plant's precise origins are hazy, the name cannabis probably evolved from antecedents meaning fragrant cane. Whatever it has been called, it has been beloved and reviled by personages ranging from twelfth-century Sufi monks, who chewed it for its mood-altering properties, to anti-pot Depression-era federal agent Harry Anslinger and today's drug warriors. Favored by poets (Coleridge sought to wean himself from opium with it), musicians and actors (Gene Krupa and Robert Mitchum, both busted in Anslinger's "star-bust campaign"), and worse (black-magician Aleister Crowley, who put it in his recreational-substance armamentarium). Besides famous users, Booth discusses home-growing ganja and present-day international trafficking in it, though from a British perspective. His pithy coverage of Rastafarians is a particular treat. While no brief for legalization, Cannabis objectively raises points and issues threatening to zero-tolerance environments; more open collections, however, should welcome it. Mike Tribby
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An investigation of the culture of hemp, the most widely distributed hallucinogenic on Earth. The cannabis industry is huge, certainly. It is a major crop worldwide, surpassing, for example, logging in British Columbia. It is farmed in basements everywhere. Hemp regularly makes the happy trek from Tangier and Nepal, Kabul and Amsterdam, Jamaica, Bombay and Brooklyn in the forms of marijuana and hashish. Hemp can be used for food, fuel, and fiber, but novelist Booth's (A Very Private Gentleman, Jan. 2004, etc.) wide-ranging report concentrates on the fun many derived from Mary Jane and hash. It can be traced back in the day of our Neolithic forbears, the classical civilizations of Greece, Rome, and China. Indians and Arabs used cannabis in one form or another and the eating or smoking of it blossomed in England and America. Thomas Wedgwood tried it and Louisa May Alcott featured the stuff in a story. It was used, notes Booth, by Satchmo, Malcolm X, Bob Marley, Keith Richards, Robert Crumb, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and many, many others, including the fictional Dr. Fu Manchu. Difficulties increased a couple of generations ago with the onslaughts of head federal narc Harry J. Anslinger. The 20th-century war on drugs seems to be a loser, possibly because usage does not seem to be all that harmful. While he doesn't deny some possibly allied ill effects (like crashes involving a stoned "train driver" and a high pilot), Booth tells of the scientific exaggerations repeated by the press without basis: "The war on cannabis is being fought from a concern not for public health or order . . but for public morality." Before reaching that conclusion, the indefatigable author presents much of theliterature, mythology, horticultural science, pharmacology, political and social history, the uses and misuses of the vegetation so friendly to mankind as balm and analgesic. Along with Eric Schlosser's Reefer Madness (2003), this could become a staple at neighborhood head shops. Readable and comprehensive, loaded as fudge: the only hash book you'll ever need.