The best cannabis books 📚

Browse the best books on cannabis as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

By Michael Pollan

Why this book?

Pollan sets out to explore the nature of four very human desires—sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—through a quartet of plants that satisfy those very needs: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. What he gently imparts to his readers during the course of these investigations is that plants can muster a lot more resources, intelligence, and agency than most people ever imagined. 

From the list:

The best books about the interwoven lifeways of plants and people

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Book cover of Cannabis: Global Histories

Cannabis: Global Histories

By Lucas Richert, Jim Mills

Why this book?

Although this book is written by and for professional historians, it’s really accessible and provides a great geographic range of chapter-length cases of the plant’s past. This book is where to go for a sound knowledge of the plant’s worldwide past. The chapters cover places and times ranging from 19th-century France to apartheid-era South Africa and post-revolutionary Iran—and many of the studies aren’t published elsewhere.
From the list:

The best books about the history of cannabis

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Book cover of Grass Roots: A History of Cannabis in the American West

Grass Roots: A History of Cannabis in the American West

By Nick Johnson

Why this book?

Two books entitled Grass Roots were published in 2017. I recommend the other one too (by Emily Dufton), but for this list I chose Nick Johnson’s book because it’s less well known. Dufton provides an excellent social history of cannabis in the U.S. Johnson gives us an environmental history of the western U.S. that is remarkable because of its many facets, including migrant labor in the 1920s, indoor horticulture starting in the 1970s, and pollution in national forests in the present. Today’s marijuana is hugely damaging to the environment, and Johnson argues that federal legalization, and the regulation that would…
From the list:

The best books about the history of cannabis

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Book cover of Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission 1893-94 Volume 1 Report

Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission 1893-94 Volume 1 Report

By W. Mackworth Young

Why this book?

If you’re interested in cannabis history, you should read original accounts of people in the past who used the plant. There is a huge source of literature, but this book is the most thorough study of cannabis in past society. When it was written by a colonial government commission in the 1890s, India had a centuries-old cannabis economy that supplied the world. Indian farmers, processors, and consumers had incredible expertise, and the British authorities couldn’t decide if this was a good thing or a bad thing. Read this and decide for yourself. And don’t try to buy this book—you’ll…
From the list:

The best books about the history of cannabis

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Book cover of The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy

The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy

By Jack Herer

Why this book?

I came of age during the “just say no” ‘80s, and I didn’t know any better until this book, published in 1985, opened my eyes to the hypocrisy, greed, and racism behind the drug war. Here, an early cannabis liberation advocate, who has a popular strain named after him, shows how valuable the plant has been throughout history as food, fiber, and medicine and explains how it came to be vilified and outlawed. He was so committed to spreading the truth that he published the entire book online.

From the list:

The best books for people who are curious about cannabis

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Book cover of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific

Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific

By Martin A. Lee

Why this book?

Published in 2012, before cannabis liberation had truly begun to take hold, this is a lively look at the illicit cannabis market as it’s morphing into a legitimate industry. Irreverent and richly written, this book tells it like it is, tracing the racist roots of marijuana prohibition to its popularity among Mexican immigrants and jazz musicians and teasing out the vast implications of the US government’s attempts to eradicate it. Everyone needs to know this history, whether they enjoy cannabis or not.

From the list:

The best books for people who are curious about cannabis

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