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Cannabis: A History


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To some it's anathema, to others it provides relief from crippling pain: to others still, it is a legal anomaly and should be decriminalized. Whatever the viewpoint, and by whatever name it is known, cannabis - or marijuana, hashish, dope, kif, weed, dagga, grass, ganga - incites debate at every level and its impact on the world's cultures and economies is undeniable. Dating back to the Neolithic period, the history of cannabis is a tale of medical advance, religious enlightenment, political subterfuge and human rights; of law enforcement and customs officers, cunning smugglers, street pushers, gang warfare, writers, artists, musicians and happy-go-lucky hipples and pot-heads.

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An in-depth, insightful, accessible and entertaining study of the world's most controversial weed - and, after tobacco, alcohol and aspirin, the world's most widely taken drug.

About the Author

An internationally known and admired writer and biographer, Martin Booth was also an acclaimed novelist - his THE INDUSTRY OF SOULS having been shortlisted for the 1998 Booker Prize. His penultimate book was CANNABIS- A HISTORY, and he died in February 2004 shortly after completing GWEILO.


Booth, author of a sweeping history of opium, now offers a global history of cannabis, especially its production and uses as hashish and marijuana. In doing so, he tracks the plant's biological, pharmaceutical, medicinal, religious, cultural, literary, social, and regulatory history from ancient China and India, through the Middle East and Africa, into Europe and the Americas, and finally to middle-class American suburbs, Amsterdam coffee shops, and recording studios everywhere today. Cannabis has proved a versatile and variable plant, spreading on the trade winds and through commerce, conquest, and countercultures. Booth does much to debunk the many myths surrounding cannabis and the onus as a supposed stimulant for violent, antisocial, Communist, and other disruptive behavior with which antidrug forces sought to link it, instead pointing out its often beneficial effects in art, literature, music, and pain relief and its benign effect on human relations. Booth tips his hand for the decriminalization of marijuana but otherwise gives a remarkably "cool" account of a plant that people round the world, to paraphrase the Beatles, had to get into their lives. Get this book instead.ARandall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Enlightening...a very engaging history. * Daily Telegraph *
Booth tells this story with admirable restraint...this book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in human freedoms and bad laws. * Independent *
So good no one will need to do another for at least fifty years...mesmerizing detail, fantastical digressions, lots of jokes and wry asides. -- James Delingpole * Literary Review *
A testament to the late Booth that he could make such a boring subject so interesting. * Sunday Times *
A colourful tale ... Chronicles the remarkable and often mystifying process through which cannabis became outlawed throughout the Western world, and the devastating effect such legislation has had on the global economy. * Sunday Telegraph *

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