SMOKE SIGNALS IS not the authoritative weed history you have been looking for, unless you need a mélange of anecdotes, statistics, marijuana slang, and bad puns for the shelf of your stoner lair. This is not to say that author Martin A. Lee doesn’t take his subject seriously. He has done his homework, collecting studies, interviews, and the “lost history of hemp” into a comprehensive tome that sadly fails to take this material in a coherent direction. For anyone who favors marijuana legalization, it is dispiriting to see compelling information presented so hazily.
Smoke Signals is correctly described as a “cautionary tale about U.S. government corruption and constitutional rights under attack,” but Lee’s agenda in these pages is more than the dismissal of absurd misinformation and the endorsement of the medical use of marijuana. He makes marijuana out to be a cure-all, a wonder product that can solve the energy crisis while being consumed recreationally-thereaputically (he makes no distinction between the two) with no side effects.
But even if marijuana’s potential has been wasted thanks to a century of misunderstanding and propaganda, surely the solution is not to replace those myths with a new one. Marijuana may be unfairly demonized, but it is isn’t exactly a blessing either. To achieve Lee’s apparent goal—the normalization of marijuana use in society—means that we should treat marijuana like any other plant we cultivate to heal the sick, manufacture products, and yes, take the edge off.
In NY, hemp has already been decriminalized- possession of an ounce or less with no intent to distribute only draws a desk appearance ticket, like a traffic summons, which can be taken care of by sending in a money order for $150.
Ideally, I would treat all the other drugs in the same way- I don’t want to be “my brother’s keeper” and I think the war on drugs is a war against ourselves, or against the drug-craving part of our population, anyway.
Therefore it can never be won, like the prohibition of alcohol, and has just crowded our court and prison systems with no benefit whatever. How is it that we have so many people in jail, but other developed countries do not?
We must be doing something fundamentally wrong. Put me down as one who would abolish all the drug prohibitions. E.W.
Me too. I.V.