Essential weed reads

Marijuana rules are more complicated than they need to be.
Photo by Susan France

If you’ve exhausted your summer reading list, never fear: We’ve put together a primer on some of the best pot books out there, several of them written by authors from this neck of the woods. We’ve included titles that’ll help you learn to grow more in a smaller space, or how to break into the burgeoning pot industry. Perhaps it’s time to stop making weed butter the same way you’ve been making it since high school and really level up your marijuana-inflused baked goods game — make pot brownies like an adult, damn it. Medicinal, recreational, horticultural, historical… pot is interesting and there are a lot of books about it.  


Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational and Scientific, by Martin A. Lee (2012). 

Lee is a counterculture connoisseur, writing his first drug-focused book, Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD and the Sixties Rebellion, in 1985. Smoke Signals similarly looks at the way marijuana has shaped American society and politics, tracing its rise as a tool of the counterculture in the 1960s to its dominance today as a dynamic, multibillion-dollar industry. It’s colorful, funny and educational. 

For a classic marijuana history book, check out Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes from 1973. 


Marijuana Cultivation Reconsidered, by Read Spears (2014)

Spears was a pioneer in the medical marijuana dispensary game in Colorado. He began cultivating pot back in the ’80s and has spent the intervening decades working as a consultant with expertise in new business development, funding, and mergers and acquisitions. He’s also scribed countless articles for High Times and other high-profile publications. This book contains all of Spear’s previous book, Small Spaces, Big Yields, plus much more — like, 200 more pages, including an extensive glossary and six appendices filled with useful information. Danny Danko, the senior cultivation editor for High Times, calls it “a must-read for any grower striving to learn more than the basics.”


Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis, by Melissa Parks and Laurie Wolf (2015)

Classically trained chefs Melissa Parks and Laurie Wolf offer a sophisticated take on cooking with cannabis with more than 200 pages of recipes that allow home cooks to better understanding dosing and flavor profiles. Learn to develop consistent canna-butter, canna-oil and canna-olive oil. Create appetizers, entrees and desserts that compliment the taste of the herb to create truly memorable meals. This is a book for the everyday cook; no special equipment necessary. 


The Cannabis Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to Cultivation & Consumption of Medical Marijuana, by Jorge Cervantes (2015)

Cervantes is a world-renowned expert with more than 30 years worth of experience with indoor, outdoor and greenhouse cannabis cultivation. At nearly 600 pages, this truly is an encyclopedic guide to medical marijuana cultivation and consumption. You can learn about essential grow techniques through more than 2,000 color images and easy step-by-step instructions. Cervantes covers the history of marijuana as medicine, the stages of plant growth all the way through harvesting, drying, curing and finally the many methods by which you can consume. Learn to design a greenhouse, fight nutrient deficiencies in plants, increase yields and cross bred.  


The Business of Cannabis, by D.J. Summers (2018)

An Alaska resident, D.J. Summers does talk specifically about pot in The Land of the Midnight Sun, but his deep and broad understanding of cannabis policy is critical for anyone in any state who’s interested in trying to break into the pot biz. He explores how cannabis businesses can operate like other established industries (alcohol, pharmaceuticals and tobacco); shares experiences from other legalized jurisdictions; and breaks down federal regulations and how policies at various levels of government interact. At under 200 pages, you’re not going to find a more concise guide to the cannabis industry.   

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