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Cannabis book: comprehensive, and readable

Univ. of California Press

Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany

By Robert C. Clarke and Mark D. Merlin

The next time someone says that cannabis can’t be legalized because more research is needed, refer them to this book. Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany takes a comprehensive look at all aspects of cannabis through history.

While it’s clearly an academic book, the information is accessible. I was more interested in “Historical Aspects of Psychoactive Cannabis Use for Ritual and Recreation” than in “Classical and Molecular Taxonomy of Cannabis,” but it’s good knowing the information is there if I ever need it.

United Nations figures are quoted estimating that “1 in every 43 persons on earth indulged in cannabis for psychoactive purposes” in 2005.

This book is informative even without reading the text; there are color photos, graphics and maps throughout.  

Everyone will find the “Timeline: Cannabis in History” section to be worth scanning. One of the first entries shows that hemp seeds were already part of the culture of early inhabitants of Japan 4,000 years after the Ice Age. The final timeline entry is for 2012, noting that “In the United States, 18 states and Washington, DC, have approved medical cannabis programs.”

The authors note, “Through the ages cannabis drugs have heightened the senses; soothed human emotions; facilitated communication… and provided creative inspiraton.” This is fact, not opinion.

Cannabis is not light reading: the book measures 8.75” X 11.5”, with 381 pages of double-column text, not including 26 pages of references and an eight-page index. It’s a work that dispensary owners and serious students of the subject would want in their collections.

Co-author Robert. C. Clarke is Cannabis Researcher and Projects Manager for the International Hemp Association, located in Amsterdam. Mark D. Merlin, the other co-author, is Professor of Botany at University of Hawaii, Manoa.

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