(Provided by Chronicle Books)

Review: ‘Marijuana for Everybody!’ a surprisingly deep guide to pot culture

There’s no ambiguity about who the target market is for a book called “Marijuana for Everybody!” With recreational cannabis now legal in Colorado and Washington, and the green tide rising across the country, the editors at High Times magazine were smart to commission a general-audience primer on all-things-weed.

But since the mainstream acceptance of pot is a fluid, evolving thing (see recent battles over the soul of stoner culture) there’s also a considerable challenge in writing a book that appeals to newbies without turning off casual users or embarrassing its publisher.


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How does one demystify stoner clich├ęs without engaging in them, or communicate the depth and breadth of cannabis’ role in human history without vomiting out a 2,000-page academic treatise? How to be breezy and readable but up-to-date? And, for the sake of Christ, can it please be funny?

(Provided by Chronicle Books)
(Provided by Chronicle Books)

High Times staffer Elise McDonough, a 12-year veteran of the magazine, is clearly up to the task. “Marijuana for Everybody!” (published Oct. 1 by Chronicle Books) is 192 pages of legit knowledge punctuated with tongue-in-cheek phrasing, tasteful but playful graphic design and a fact-based foundation that supports its historical background, how-to guides, tips and tricks.

It may go without saying, but “Marijuana for Everbody!” (like High Times) is inherently pro-cannabis. McDonough doesn’t shy from the history of cannabis prohibition or the arguments as to why it should be illegal, but the fundamental, running assumption is that pot is a wonder-plant that improves everything it comes into contact with — if we would only appreciate it for what it is.

Trying to be everything to everybody is dumb, and this book wisely avoids that. Much like this website, if you’re here, you’re likely interested in the subject already. Instead of wasting precious pages converting people, “Everbody!” just goes for it. As a result, it covers a shocking amount of ground without sounding incoherent or rushed.

After a short introduction that never misses a chance to make an awkward pun (sample: “Public opinion regarding marijuana has at least reached a ‘spliffing point'”), McDonough dives into Chapter 1, “The How and Why of Getting High.” Substantive explorations of the history and science of cannabis are followed by an explanation of strains and an advice column-styled FAQ that addresses topics such as stoned driving, weed and memory and drug tests.


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Chapter 2, “Smoke It, Eat It, Wear It, Be It!” ramps up the evangelical tone but also the entertainment value, offering everything from tips on rolling the perfect joint or packing the perfect bowl to edibles and hash recipes, as well as some advanced reading for would-be ganjapreneurs and pot tourists.

The book closes with the brief, humorous “I’m High, Now What?” chapter, which uses flowcharts and stoner-game instructions in an attempt to inject some activity into stoners’ stereotypically sedentary lives. I laughed the most while reading this chapter, although many of the “Fun and Games” suggestions are improbably complicated for the average high. Stoned chess, in which you make your own chessboard and use pipes and bongs as the chess pieces? Or how about Bong Balancing, or the Outdoor Grower Obstacle Course? Thanks! I’ll pass.

The book is portable and handy, with a sturdy softcover that’s slightly bigger than paperback dimensions and a comfy, rounded-edge design that recalls the similarly half-serious “The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook.” (The mix of jokes and practical knowledge also recalls that book, as passages titled “Was Jesus a Stoner?” sit comfortably next to “Know Your Dose” and “Are Dabs Safe to Smoke?”)

Media of all stripes are rushing to cash in on mainstream pot curiosity, but few publications could hope to produce something as knowledgeable and easy to digest as “Marijuana for Everbody!” Despite an understandably fawning tone toward the plant, McDonough’s research is balanced and her writing practical, an admirable mix of head and heart in a sprawling field that can seem intimidating to newcomers.