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15 weed books that illuminate, demystify and celebrate cannabis

Marijuana legalization continues to sweep across the United States. The 2020 election saw voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota approving recreational marijuana use. With only 15 states still outlawing all forms of marijuana use, the public perceptions of weed use in America seems to be reaching a tipping point toward favorability. With the coronavirus pandemic and the associated isolation and social distance requirements, there has been an increased demand for marijuana worldwide in 2020. As acceptance and curiosity surrounding marijuana continues to increase, it becomes more important to learn as much as possible about the wacky tobacky, because weed is on course to becoming a household staple. To help our fellow book nerds prepare for that inevitable future, we have a list of must-read weed books that will delight cannabis connoisseurs while quickly turning outsiders into ganja groupies. Special thanks to fellow Rioter Sophia LeFevre, who was instrumental in helping me curate this blazin’ list.

AMERICAN HERB HISTORY BOOKS

These nonfiction weed books provide a historical perspective of cannabis culture in America.

Grass Roots Book Cover

GRASS ROOTS: THE RISE AND FALL AND RISE OF MARIJUANA IN AMERICA BY EMILY DUFTON

As more states decriminalize and legalize recreational marijuana use, continued progress toward federal laws changing seems inevitable. However, marijuana was on a similar trajectory toward mainstream acceptance decades ago, only to face swift backlash.

During the 1970s, pro-pot campaigners successfully secured marijuana decriminalization in several states. However, concerned parents quickly mobilized. With the aid of Nancy Reagan, they turned the tables on the nation’s perception of marijuana and paved the way for an aggressive war on drugs. In response, advocates retooled their message with a focus on the drug’s medical benefits as well as the need for legalization as a form of reformative racial justice. For the time being, the advocates are winning the fight, but the war still rages on.

THE NEW CHARDONNAY: THE UNLIKELY STORY OF HOW MARIJUANA WENT MAINSTREAM BY HEATHER CABOT

In The New Chardonnay, journalist Heather Cabot explores how marijuana went from the “devil’s lettuce” of her youth to the multi-billion dollar industry it is today. She reports the journey of cannabis going from being associated with deadbeat hippies and stoners to it going mainstream, showing up in beauty products and inspiring culinary trends—all while remaining federally illegal in the United States.

Relying on her journalism background, Cabot paints a picture of how economic, political, and social forces collided to bring marijuana out from the shadows and into the forefront of American culture. Along the way, readers hang out with Snoop Dogg and his business partner as they roll out their own brand of weed, learn about the chefs creating cannabis-infused cuisine, follow marijuana mogul Beth Stavola, meet the Willy Wonka of Weed, and visit the Marijuana Business Convention.

Published: December 23, 2020

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