A book Review:

“The Little Book of Cannabis ~ How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life” by Amanda Siebert

I have been reading, researching, and writing, about cannabis for some time now.

In doing so, I have striven to maintain an impartiality when it comes to the opinions I form and hold of cannabis.

As far as I am concerned, checking my political positions and personal feelings at the door is required if the discourse on cannabis is to be transparent, legitimate, and accessible to everyone.

Moreover, it is the most effective means to understand the therapeutic potential of cannabis, and to determine the appropriate circumstances in which to use it.

No matter what my personal or political positions may predispose me to think abut cannabis, my perception of it is informed, first, by data. Hard science.

If and once it has been established that cannabis is a fruitful topic of study or research, or a candidate for drug discovery and investigation, then a healthy skepticism must come to bear on the subsequent experiments, tests, processes and methodologies from which we draw our conclusions.

This ensures that the way we speak about cannabis remains honest and demystifies it – a compound that all too often is touted as a cure-all or treatment for a number of diseases, conditions, ailments, symptoms, infections, cancers and psychological disorders.

While cannabis may very well show promise in the regulation, management, treatment, or dare I say cure, of such things – this is not to say that it does so.

Due, in part, to the fact that cannabis is relatively under-researched, it is inspiring and exciting to think of all the potential ways in which cannabis-based compounds, or the plant itself, can improve our life whether it is, for example, the treatment of illness, improving our quality of sleep or sex, or making us generally happier.

Often when I read trade publications on cannabis I am able to sense, through the prose, the author’s attitude toward cannabis.

The first, and more easily distinguishable disposition is a negative or cynical view of cannabis. – it is easy to spot a detractor.

The second disposition is positive and is best described as an unbridled idealism. It is harder to spot, and it manifests itself in the writing insofar as it leads the author to romanticize his or her subject – cannabis.

In my view, both attitudes are bad for the public discourse albeit for different reasons.

A negative or cynical attitude of cannabis is bad for the public discourse in that it precludes us from engaging with it constructively. It creates and perpetuates misinformation, or can make us apathetic when it comes to researching, studying or discussing cannabis, its possible uses or applications. – this is well understood.

Perhaps not so well understood is how romanticizing cannabis can be bad for the public discourse. As stated previously, it is inspiring and exciting to think of all the ways in which cannabis could potentially improve our life, but what we must not forget is that, left unchecked, this romanticism can make cannabis seem better, or more appealing, than it is or should be.

This may seem like I am stating the obvious, but the truth is we, collectively as a society and as individuals, have begun to romanticize cannabis.

It is ironic that we have begun to romanticize what we once demonized and feared. This is not altogether surprising given the fervor surrounding cannabis legalization.

Why is it important, and yet so difficult, for us to find a middle-ground?

The answer is that cannabis is a complex plant. It is not easily understood in and of itself, and it becomes all the more vexing when we attempt to understand its function in the human body.

For this reason, the capacity of the average person to understand cannabis and its function in the human body at a level that empowers them to make better decisions as a consumer and for their health is resoundingly limited.

As a result, the average person is much more apt to accept, at face-value, romanticized rhetoric and claims as they pertain to cannabis, and by extension, to misuse it.

This means that when we speak of cannabis in a romanticized way, we blur the line between what can be definitively stated about cannabis, and what can be suggested about cannabis.

There is no knowledge-base, that is accessible to the average person, to question the integrity or validity of what someone says or writes about cannabis.

This is how the mythos of cannabis continues to expand, and how people continue to misappropriate facts and the efficacy of cannabis in the treatment of diseases, symptoms, conditions, ailments, or psychological disorders.

I was recently contacted by Greystone Books to write a book review of “The Little Book of Cannabis ~ How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life”by Amanda Siebert.

Amanda Siebert is an award-winning journalist and photographer best known for her work as the first-ever cannabis editor of Vancouver’s Georgia Straight.

If I am being honest, I did not have high hopes for the book. As I said, I am quite familiar with cannabis research, but the majority of trade publications I have read on the subject have been unimpressive.

I read the book cover to cover.

Whilst reading the book, I paid particular attention to the source material. Siebert’s source material is varied and multidisciplinary in its scope ranging from statistics and surveys to peer reviewed studies and trials (preclinical and clinical, in vitro and in vivo), news articles, testimonials, personal anecdotes, and historical text.

The subject matter of the book was equally as diverse, touching upon the relationships between cannabis and stress, sleep, anxiety, weight management and exercise, sex, chronic pain, cancer, aging, and drug addiction.

The book is not exhaustive in its scope or analysis, but is by no means any less impressive as a result.

While the author’s affinity for cannabis is clear, she makes a distinction between what is known about cannabis and what is speculated about cannabis. There is an ever-present skepticism in the text that acts as a reminder to the reader not to make cannabis seem better, or more appealing, than it is or should be.

In this way, “The Little Book of Cannabis ~ How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life” is a responsible, thoughtful and well-articulated, user-manual for improving your quality of life with cannabis.

Throughout the narrative, Siebert continually reintroduces the “entourage effect” whereby all of the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes found in the plant act as agonists to one another when the plant is ingested as a whole thereby amplifying its pharmacological effects.

She simplifies the “entourage effect” in the following way; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The same can be said for Siebert’s book in that while the book provides a real roadmap for individuals looking to improve their life with cannabis – there is a chapter for everyone. Its greater effect as a whole is that it can help us reframe the perception we have of cannabis as a society.

It serves to legitimize cannabis with quality information, written in a style that is accessible and comprehensible to the people who need it most.

I do not recommend that this be the only book you read on cannabis, but it is a terrific introduction to the subject. It will also provide you with a knowledge-base to draw from to make better decisions as a consumer and for your health.

“The Little Book of Cannabis ~ How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life” by Amanda Siebert is scheduled for release on October 17th, 2018 which appropriately coincides with the enactment of cannabis legalization in Canada.