10 choice weed books

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On Tuesday, California moved a step closer to legalizing marijuana. The California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee voted 4-3 to approve a measure that would make it legal for those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use. Taxes and fees on the drug would generate an estimated $1.3 billion annually; the full Legislature is not expected to consider the bill until next year.

Which means, in the meantime, there’s plenty of time to get in some weed reading. With the help of Mark Haskell Smith, L.A. Times contributor and author of the forthcoming novel ‘Baked,’ we came up with this list of 10 choice books about marijuana. In alphabetical order:


  • ‘Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me’ by Richard Farina (novel)
  • ‘Budding Prospects’ by T.C. Boyle (novel)
  • ‘Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went Up in Smoke’ by Dean Kuipers (nonfiction)
  • ‘Cannabis: A History’ by Martin Booth (nonfiction)
  • ‘The Drug User: Documents 1840-1960' edited by John Strausbaugh and Donald Blaise (essays and more)
  • ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and the Conspiracy Against Marijuana’ by Jack Herer (nonfiction)
  • ‘The Hasheesh Eater’ by Fitz Hugh Ludlow (memoir)
  • ‘Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible’ by Jorge Cervantes (nonfiction)
  • ‘Red-Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes’ by Terry Southern (essays)
  • ‘Vineland’ by Thomas Pynchon (novel)

We happened to have T.C. Boyle on the phone, and told him that his novel was making the list. He jumped in with his opinion on the bigger issue. ‘This is a no-brainer,’ he said. ‘I would legalize all drugs. ... I’m all for it.’ He also had some recommended reading: this New Yorker piece on modern pot-growing in California: ‘Dr. Kush: How Medical Marijuana Is Transforming the Pot Industry.’

-- Carolyn Kellogg