Cannabis Culture: A Journey Through Disputed Territory Paperback – 3 Nov 2003
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Most books about Cannabis tend to fall into two camps. There are the stoned travel ramblings of the super-enthusiast. And then there are the DIY guides, available mostly in 'head shops', consisting of lovingly illustrated pamphlets showing you how to turn your upstairs toilet into a hydroponic hash farm grossing two hundred grand a year. Despite a deep-rooted affection for his subject matter, Patrick Matthews Cannabis Culture: a Journey Through Disputed Territory is about as far from the typical dope book as a hand-rubbed Nepalese temple ball is from a lump of industrial grade Moroccan. With its highly readable prose and artful mixing of historic, legal, medical, scientific and social evidence, alongside considerable chunks of personal anecdote, Cannabis Culture offers a sophisticated multi- dimensional take on the subject of the world's favourite illegal recreational drug.
Matthews makes two important contributions to the debate on Cannabis. First, as befits a wine writer (Matthews is author of the award- winning wine book The Wild Bunch: Great Wines from Small Producers), he introduces the notion of cannabis connoisseurship. Cannabis has a "set of expectations, a way of talking about the experience, the rituals of sharing joints and an idea of how to get stoned and how to behave when stoned, all of which matter," he writes.
The difference from wine is that there connoisseurship is about taste because that is where the chemical complexity lies. With cannabis the opportunity for discernment lies in the effect because it contains over 60 different psycho-active compounds. He also argues that we should develop cannabis culture, not repress it. His point being that the best way to control abuse and overuse of any drug is through ritual and the evolution of social norms, not through legislation. He points to the way that alcohol damaged American Indian culture because it had no social context. And he slates drinks firms who are "aggressively keen to demystify what they sell--stripping it in effect of the ritual which helps limit its potential for harm. "
Although this is obviously a book for enthusiasts, it will also make an invaluable and informative read for worried parents, agents of the law and legislators, all of whom tend to be hopelessly ignorant when it comes to what cockneys call "Bob Hope" (dope). --Alex Benady --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Patrick Matthews...utilizes a broad narrative canvas, covering such diverse aspects as the agricultural prominence of cannabis crops in regions from Appalachia to Afghanistan, recent advocacy for 'Medi-Pot, ' user rituals, purchasing etiquette, and the law enforcement fluctuations in response to this most popular of illicit substances. A fine omnibus treatment and a valuable contribution to an often turgid debate."See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
I found his handling of the various conspiracy theories, which allege that hemp was prohibited due to its competing with the other industries of the day, to be concise enough. Moreover they showed a flair for historic analysis of texts which would put many mainstream historians to shame. Mathews meets and introduces the readers to a whole host of fascinating characters, and tries to demystify a subject which is so commonly too charged by opinion to discuss properly, and does a thoroughly entertaining job of it. I enjoyed it immensely and can only recommend it.
On the language of the writing I would say that this book doesn't exactly flow, the grammar is in places quite difficult to follow. I found myself reading and rereading sentences to fully understand and take them in. If you are accustomed to study and find yourself able to easily digest educational text then you will have no trouble reading this book. If on the other hand you are a reader mainly of novels you may find this book quite hard going. The book contains a huge amount of factual information that doesn't exactly inspire, but the subject matter at hand more than makes up for it.
I have to say that besides the broken nature of the book, with its factual quotations and jumpy subject matter, I was unable to put the book down and do something else if reading the book was possible at the time. I found myself reading it in queues, traffic jams and even the toilet!!
To summarise, it is my opinion that this book has a something for everybody, requires a bit of devoted reading to fully comprehend it, but gives a lot in return for the effort needed to read it properly. The book stays for the best part neutral, although to stay neutral in such a subject is damn near impossible, so it is probably better to say the book sticks to the facts and the facts speak for themselves.
Lastly this book also gives a lot of references to further essential reading for anybody who would like to extend their knowledge of this subject, and or speak on it's behalf with authority and credibility.
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