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Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific Paperback – August 13, 2013
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“Smoke Signals is an important, serious-minded look at the role cannabis has played in American history. He tackles the hard issues of marijuana prohibition with keen insight and righteous indignation. I agree with Lee’s central premise that our marijuana laws are draconian. Every American should read this landmark book!” (Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of Cronkite)
"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
"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)
About the Author
Martin A. Lee is the author of four books, including most recently Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational and Scientific. He is the cofounder of the media watch group FAIR and the director of Project CBD, a medical science information service. He is also the author of Acid Dreams and The Beast Reawakens, and his writing has appeared in many publications, including The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Harper’s Magazine, Le Monde Diplomatique, Rolling Stone, The Nation, Salon.com, HuffingtonPost.com, and TheDailyBeast.com.
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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. Educating us about the science of cannabis, Mr. Lee is perhaps at his best when he writes about dozens of specific cases where patients benefited from weed after Big Pharma solutions had failed. However, it seems an entrenched military and law enforcement complex has done its worst to thwart the democratic process and deprive needy people of their medicine.
Mr. Lee goes on to discuss the growth of the home-grown industry and the political struggles that have continued in the face of legalistic limbo. As he thoroughly shreds the few remaining justifications that stand in the way of legalization (such as the old canard that marijuana is bad for kids), the author explains how science can point the way towards a healthier future for people and society.
I highly recommend this great book to everyone.
It can be a frustrating read: By halfway through, you'll be tempted to chuck your book/device across the room. Not because of any issues with the writing, but from reading all the stories about the single-minded obsession – and outright lies – that prohibitionists embraced in their quest to abolish and demonize this plant.
The momentum that started with one Depression-era Fed in search of a (racist) holy war kept growing and refused to die, even in the face of massive social upheavals sparked by cannabis. Only in the last couple of decades has that wall of ignorance and fallacy finally started to come down.
And even now, as Jeff Sessions makes comments straight out of the reefer madness era, the federal government still seems to think its job is to enforce a law based not on science or the will of the people, but on stigmas and Puritan fantasies. It’s up to the people to remember who serves whom in a democracy (at least in theory), celebrate the progress that’s been made, and “get up, stand up, stand up for our rights.”
Well worth a read to learn the recent history of this medicinal herb.
The tide IS turning thanks to groups like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Check their web-site and READ this book. Like the saying goes...Knowledge is Power. The so-called "war on drugs" is an abject failure and we need to put the nails in the coffin once and for all! The rest of the world is going to harm-reduction policies.....America is only beginning to see the light. The emperor has no clothes and no science! Remember what the "Walrus" said?.."turn-on, stay-in and change-it". [Paul McCartney]
I spent the three days at Woodstock, I remember the plight of John Sinclair.......almost 50 years later and "the John Sinclair's" are still in prison. Right-on ABBIE! ( I witnessed that affair). Driving among "buzzed" drivers has also been going on for the last 50 years or more and now all of a sudden it is an issue. Driving "stoned" is nothing like driving drunk. There are those out there on the road that are "impaired" even though they are not on drugs or alcohol! And most of them have "smart"phones in their hands!
Make Love not war, baby!