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Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific Hardcover – August 14, 2012
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"A ripping read, thoroughly researched, Smoke Signals will help inform the current debate and hopefully hasten the demise of prohibition." —David Bronner, CEO, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps
"[A] well-reasoned, entertainingly written, and passionate examination of the social and culture war that surrounds the drug."—Booklist
"In this accessible and well-researched analysis, Lee offers a cultural reckoning of cannabis in its many incarnations, spanning from its first recorded utilization in 2700 B.C.E. to the present...a compelling read and an excellent source of information on the topic."—Publishers Weekly
"Smoking a doobie isn’t the worst thing a person could do...and Lee backs that thought up with social history aplenty, ranging from neolithic experiments down to the Kerouac-ian consumers of the Beat Era."—Kirkus Reviews
“Hallelujah and glory be to Smoke Signals, Martin Lee’s bodacious new book…[Lee] chronicles everything and everyone worth chronicling in the annals of marijuana.” (Jonah Raskin High Times)
"Lee…imagines a bright, legal, lucrative future for weed.”—Business Week
“[E]xuberant, richly researched.” (Boston Globe)
"High but not dry...a lively and informative book.” (Detroit Metro Times)
“This is a brilliant book . . . Smoke Signals is destined to be a classic.” (Mikki Norris West Coast Leaf)
“As Martin A. Lee shows in Smoke Signals, his engaging and illuminating new history, marijuana’s contraband status is a result of historical accident, racial prejudice, xenophobia, loads of cultural baggage, and an astonishing amount of ignorance.” (Jacob Sullum, Reason)
“Lee’s new book is the precise educational tool that our country currently needs . . . Smoke Signals should be required reading in every high school history class.” (David J. Brown, author, Mavericks of Medicine)
“[A] clearheaded survey that stretches from 2700 B.C. to the Obama administration.” (James Hughes, Slate)
“[A] delightful surprise . . . impossible to put down.” (Anna Diaz, Real Weedist)
"[T]he best, most comprehensive account of the American marijuana movement(s) to date . . . Smoke Signals is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the contemporary marijuana movement." (Phil Smith Drug War Chronicle)
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
With that said, after reading numerous respectable pieces about marijuana, I was at a loss as to why our federal government was freaking out about weed? A mountain of scientific reports over the past hundred years or so have repeatedly shown that it isn't a gateway drug, addictive, NO ONE has ever O.D. on the stuff, it has numerous medicinal benefits, and cannabis has many uses such as petroleum, food, clothing and paper. Mr. Lee's 'Smoke Signals' presents a very thorough history of hippie lettuce. Our laws demonizing it began because of racism towards Mexicans and blacks as well as religious zealotry then snowballed into a federal bureaucratic cash cow and political tool. The author repeatedly shows through heavily annotated examples that marijuana's reputation was and is tarnished due to moral and ideological attitudes. There is plenty of interesting trivia between these pages such as Sears & Roebuck used to sell it. Mr.Read more ›
I have decided to edit this review in order to remove a few merely personal remarks not germane to the text.
I found this in my library in hardcover. There is little new here barring recent research results, but it is very nice to see all the relevant material in one source. By that I mean the plant's background, the history of its use, the rise of prohibition in the U.S. and the idiocy of its continuation, have all been documented elsewhere as the (abundant) annotations show. But up until now it was necessary to go all over the place to get it.
I was a little surprised the author allowed his own feelings on the matter to show so clearly. It is billed as a 'social history of marijuana' and historians are usually pretty good at remaining objective while basing their findings on facts. One assertion presented as fact may be found on page 287 in a discussion of PTSD, "...nearly twice as many [Vietnam vets] would kill themselves after the war..." than died during the war. This really struck me. He gives no reference for this figure unfortunately so I did a little checking. Yes, there are some who make the assertion but it looks like few reliable statistical studies have been done. The VA says the mortality rate among discharged vets was about 1.5 times that of non-vets in their first five years of civilian life. I suppose from that you can extrapolate. I find it hard to accept that over 100,000 suicides have occurred nonetheless. Suicide is hard to diagnose sometimes and you could wrap in accidental deaths, drug overdoses and such to reach that huge number. I know of no one who took their own life after serving fwiw. PTSD sure is wicked if you ever get it, like my wife did after getting hit by a car.Read more ›
It also covers the legal aspects pretty thoroughly. Some of it triggered reactions on my part, as I was a Republican for most of the time, so I had to suck it up and agree that 'my guys' (at the time) were in large part responsible for the psychosis of the Drug War. Actually, there isn't much difference between the two parties, and I don't support either of them any more. For some, it will be an education to see what 'our government' gets up to and how flagrantly they will disregard laws, sanity, sense, and the rights we used to enjoy, in the pursuit of their obsession.
If you were around in the sixties, you should read this book.
Mr. Lee recalls how the herb was used by the working classes including innovative musicians such as Louis Armstrong until racial anxiety led to a wave of anti-marijuana laws in the 1930s. We learn how Harry Anslinger poisoned the minds of an entire generation with his government-approved anti-weed propaganda. The author does a great job describing how the Beats opened the door to the rebellious 1960s when marijuana use and antiwar activism were inseparably linked in a movement that challenged the legitimacy of Cold War authority.
Mr. Lee discusses the conservative backlash and the unjust puritanical war that was waged against the American people while the government looked the other way as it engaged in illicit wars in Central America and Afghanistan. We see how every credible government study intended to justify marijuana's illegality has instead demonstrated its efficacy as a therapeutic. The author talks about how progressive-thinking people like Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Dr. Tod Mikuriya and Dr. Andrew Weil dedicated considerable time and effort to the cause of reason, sanity and humanity.
Mr. Lee documents how the just say never 1980s gave way to the medical marijuana activism of the 1990s. As people progressed from blunts to ballots, state laws were changed but federal policy remained the same.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book about the history of cannabis and the prohibition of it.Published 1 month ago by Richard Coile
This book is really great, however it is like a textbook with walls of text to get through.Published 1 month ago by Susan
This is a beautifully thorough and comprehensive look at the history of marijuana, including its prehistory and role in earlier civilizations, but primarily this is a history of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ryan Mease
Martin tells the tale of cannabis from man's first discovery to present day with naked honesty. He includes history, politics, recreational and medical uses, and backs it all up... Read morePublished 3 months ago by T. Carter
Eye opening! Carl Rove can use this book as an example of how easy it is for a few people in power to dupe the public into believing exactly what they want... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ken Martin