cannabis book

The Top 10 Books On Cannabis

There is an old saying that knowledge is power, and when it comes to cannabis there could not be a truer statement. So to help you on your quest for understanding, we have a list of essential reading.

In the digital age of video and audio, books often get scoffed at. Online articles and YouTube tutorials seem like more efficient ways to obtain information. However, these sources pale in comparison to the detail and volume of information found in books. If you’re looking to increase the size and quality of your harvests or learn about the health benefits and history of the herb, books are invaluable tools.

Books also keep your attention locked in. When browsing the internet for cannabis information, it’s too tempting to open another tab and begin scrolling social media and checking your emails. In contrast, slowly turning the page of a good book—joint in hand—tames the brain and immerses you into a world of new information. The mind evolves after reading a book, and your perception of cannabis will be forever changed.

The cannabis book market is booming. The available tomes cover every topic within the field. No matter what you’re looking for, a host of contemporary and classic authors have got you covered.

Below is a list of the top 10 cannabis books we recommend. Don’t miss out on learning something new!


The legalization of cannabis in several countries has led to an explosion of scientific research and discovery. Cannabis and its constituents—cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and so on—have been explored in cell, animal, and human studies. Many of the results look promising, and the future of cannabis medicine is undoubtedly a bright one. The books featured below are incredible resources if you’re looking to learn more about cannabis, health, and medicine.


The Cannabis Health Index is an in-depth book that harnesses over 1,000 scientific studies to explain how cannabis, along with mindfulness techniques, is useful for over 100 chronic diseases and symptoms. Penned by Uwe Blesching, PhD, no stone is left unturned when it comes to the herb’s impact on common and more severe ailments.

Readers can use this comprehensive, evidence-based book to learn about cannabis as a medicine, and how it could help them in their health battles. If you’re curious about the impact of cannabis on specific conditions, you don’t have to trudge through the entire volume. It’s divided into different sections according to pathologies, such as inflammatory diseases, neurological diseases, and cardiovascular health.

Blesching has done a superb job translating the difficult and often confusing scientific literature into a reader-friendly format. Get ready to have your mind blown as your cannabis knowledge expands considerably.


This book is both informative and practical. It equips users with crucial information about CBD and how to prepare and use it. Juliana Birnbaum details the safety of the non-psychotropic cannabinoid and its many proposed health benefits and medicinal applications.

As well as discussing pharmacology, the book details the botany of the cannabis plant and explains how specific cannabinoid formulas can target certain ailments more effectively.

Birnbaum explains how CBD, alone and in combination with other cannabinoids, may work to relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, arthritis, inflammation, seizures, pain, and other conditions.

The book also provides dosage outlines and guidance on oil infusions, tinctures, capsules, and CO₂ concentrates.


Written by cannabis expert Michael Backes, Cannabis Pharmacy offers up-to-date information regarding medicinal cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. The book explores the chemical constituents of the plant and how they work in the body to exert effects.

Backes explains the role of the endocannabinoid system and how the network of receptors influences emotion, appetite, and memory. Backes also discusses dosing and delivery methods. You’ll learn precisely how to use cannabis in your own life for medicinal purposes. These pages contain information on 21 ailments and conditions, and how cannabis can be used herein.

The book also features a foreword by Dr Andrew Weil MD, a practitioner and teacher of integrative medicine.


Growing cannabis is both a science and an art. The following books will help novices get started on their growing journey, and intermediate and advanced cultivators hone their techniques. They offer information on everything from lighting and nutrients to breeding and harvests.


Marijuana Horticulture is 512 pages of pure wisdom. It’s the quintessential guide to growing weed, and has been a bestseller since 1983. The current Fifth Edition provides 1120 colour images that put all of the concepts on display.

World-renowned cannabis expert Jorge Cervantes penned the book. It provides all the information you need to know to reach a successful harvest. Cervantes will teach you how to set up a growing environment with the resources you have on hand—from grow rooms to greenhouses. He also covers what lighting to use, how to secure your grow, and how to feed your crop correctly.

Marijuana Horticulture doesn’t stop there. The book is an extensive guide on using growing techniques such as sea of green to optimise yield. It also explains how to clone, flower, and harvest cannabis plants. Once you’ve trimmed your buds, you’ll learn how to dry and cure them, and even how to make hash.


Ed Rosenthal—“the guru of ganja”—is a leading cannabis horticulture authority. As one of the co-founders of High Times Magazine, he’s an accomplished cannabis educator and author. In the Marijuana Grower’s Handbook, Rosenthal covers all the bases from beginner knowledge to advanced cultivation skills.

The book starts with an introduction to the cannabis plant: its active constituents and numerous subspecies. Next, Rosenthal offers a concise plant biology lesson and covers the topics of photosynthesis, light, carbon dioxide, nutrients, temperature, and humidity.

Equipped with this crucial information, you’ll be ready to learn how to set up your growing space; and in the following chapters, you’ll learn how to harvest, dry, cure, and restart your garden if you grow outdoors.


It’s no secret that cannabis is a controversial crop. The plant has been subject to vicious propaganda campaigns and crushed under prohibition. However, its past isn’t all dark. The herb has been used as a medicine for thousands of years and has played an essential role as an industrial crop. Read these books to learn about the history of weed.


The Emperor Wears No Clothes is one of the most famous cannabis books of all time. The book was written by American cannabis activist Jack Herer on the many uses of this enigmatic plant. His work had such an impact on the cannabis community that there’s even a strain named after him.

Also referred to has “The Hemp Bible”, the book documents the historical suppression of hemp by large corporate interests. Herer details how the petrochemical industry sought to lobby the government and outlaw hemp.

Herer discusses the seemingly endless uses of the renewable crop. He covers its ability to provide resources for paper, energy, food, textiles, and medicine.


In this book, Martin Booth delves deep into the history of the cannabis plant. It’s a stellar read for those looking to understand where cannabis came from and how it has impacted both modern and ancient cultures.

Booth starts the timeline back in the Neolithic period and works through to the present day. He touches upon how cannabis has played a role in advancements in medicine, religion, politics, human rights, music, and art.

The book also covers the complex tale of how cannabis was targeted and prohibited in the modern Western world. The United States government once encouraged the cultivation of cannabis, only to incarcerate people for possession years later.

This book is for readers looking to learn every last detail about the history of cannabis.


Smoke Signals explores the “great American pot story”. Author Martin A. Lee takes readers through a cultural exploration of cannabis. Readers will learn about the legal history of cannabis in the country, its prohibition, and the movements that opposed it.

Lee delves into the implementation of draconian cannabis laws, their social impact, and the culture war surrounding such legislation.


Cooking with cannabis is more than just throwing buds and leaves into a cake mix. It’s an intricate art filled with nuances and technique. Learn about extracts, decarboxylation, and all things culinary with these cannabis cookbooks.


The Easy Cannabis Cookbook showcases just how far edibles have come. Edible cannabis used to be defined by brownies and cookies, yet now spans into every nook and cranny of the culinary world. If you’re an established or aspiring cannabis chef, this book will quickly become a valuable ally.

Writer Cheri Sicard covers cannabis 101—an explanation of the history and medicinal use of cannabis. She also provides an accurate dosing guide and a list of essential equipment when cooking with the herb. The Easy Cannabis Cookbook features over 60 different medicated recipes, including banana bread and cheese fettuccine alfredo.


The Cannabis Cookbook is designed to enable herb-lovers to cook up edibles with ease. Cannabis writer Tim Pilcher has put together over 25 delicious recipes, including “Stoned Starters”, “Mashed Main Courses”, and “Doped-Out Desserts”.

It’s the perfect book to draw inspiration from before cooking up a three-course meal for your cannabis-loving friends. There are even recipes for medicated drinks.

The Cannabis Cookbook goes above and beyond just recipes, and includes notes on the science and history of culinary cannabis.

Books sharpen the mind and deepen knowledge. Learn everything there is to know about cannabis history, growing, cooking, and medicine with these 10 books!

12 Cannabis Books That Changed the Game

A ll kinds of books pair well with weed, from the headiest philosophy to the most escapist fantasy or science fiction. However, the following list of game-changing cannabis books will focus squarely on tomes dealing directly or indirectly with the plant itself, while still running the gamut of novels, memoirs, how-to, science, creative non-fiction, history, cookbooks, and humor.

Twelve books in all, presented here in chronological order, not just for sake of easy reference, but to better tell a story that’s unfolded over many years.

Need a Strain to Pair With That Book?

The Artificial Paradises (1860)

by Charles Baudelaire

In 1840, Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau put out a few invitations to Paris’ leading writers and artists, with the rather sensible assumption that the offer of altered consciousness would appeal to the creative class. And wouldn’t you know it, when the Club des Hashischins (Hashish Club) met for the first time, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, and many other members of the French intelligentsia were in attendance.

While Baudelaire never quite became a hashish-head, he did decide to write The Artificial Paradises, a book about his own experiences getting high and his observations of others. Here’s a favorite passage:

“The brain and the organism upon which hashish operates will only give their ordinary and individual phenomena, magnified, it is true, both in quantity and quality, but always faithful to their origin. Man cannot escape the fatality of his moral and physical temperament. Hashish will be, indeed, for the impressions and familiar thoughts of the man, a mirror which magnifies, yet no more than a mirror.”

The LaGuardia Report (1944)

Prepared by the New York Academy of Medicine

In 1944, New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia at last released the findings of a blue-ribbon panel he’d convened and tasked with making a full scientific investigation of cannabis based on all previous research plus their own experiments.

Issued as The LaGuardia Report (and later released as a book), the landmark paper boasted the endorsement of the prestigious New York Academy of Medicine, which helped supply the panel with eminent doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacologists, chemists and sociologists. The report, in brief, concluded:

“Prolonged use of the drug does not lead to physical, mental, or moral degeneration, nor have we observed any permanent deleterious effects from its continued use. Quite the contrary, marihuana and its derivatives and allied synthetics have potentially valuable therapeutic applications which merit future investigation.”

The prestigious report shot down pretty much every one of Harry J. Anslinger’s central arguments against cannabis. But a rebuttal featured in the April 28, 1945 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association fought back so dirty that many insiders suspected Anslinger himself of writing it.

“Already the book has done harm,” The JAMA editorial unequivocally declared, referring to The LaGuardia Report. “One investigator has described some tearful parents who brought their 16-year-old son to a physician after he had been detected in the act of smoking marijuana. A noticeable mental deterioration had been evident for some time, even to their lay minds. The boy said he had read the LaGuardia Committee Report and that this was his justification for using marijuana.”

Marihuana Reconsidered (1971)

by Dr. Lester Grinspoon

Dr. Lester Grinspoon didn’t set out to write a book that would change the world’s misguided view of marijuana. In fact, he originally started researching the subject in hopes of convincing his best friend—famed astronomer Carl Sagan—to stop getting high all the time.

Written by a leading academic who was also a medical doctor, the book was a sensation, sparking a national debate that led directly to our current era of rapid legalization.

But after a fateful weekend spent digging into old research reports at the library, Grinspoon—a young associate professor at Harvard Medical School—emerged with a new understanding of the plant and its potential as a medicine.

In response, the good doctor took a career detour in order to write Marihuana Reconsidered, a scholarly work that for the first time in decades (see LaGuardia Report above) made the public fully aware of the facts regarding cannabis. Written by a leading academic who was also a medical doctor, the book was a sensation, sparking a national debate that led directly to our current era of rapid legalization. The experience also transformed Grinspoon’s life, as he’s spent the last fifty years advocating for the plant’s medicinal use and full legalization.

Marijuana Horticulture (1983)

by Jorge Cervantes

George Van Patten (writing under the pen name Jorge Cervantes) has sold over one million self-published cannabis cultivation books, providing solid information and detailed instructions to countless hobbyists and professionals around the world. He’s also a guy who clearly loves both cannabis and those who grow it.

As reported in a previous Leafly article, the earliest iteration of Van Patten’s Marijuana Horticulture had its roots in his own carefully collected field notes, based on his many years as an underground grower in Mexico and Southern California. After photocopying those detailed notes and sharing them many, many times with fellow cultivators, he finally printed up a small batch of self-published books to save himself the trouble of making copies, only to find he had a perennial bestseller on his hands.

Even as the popular conception of cannabis cultivation has shifted to large, professionally operated production facilities, Van Patten continues to focus on those cultivating in a backyard, basement, or small plot.

The Emperor Wears No Clothes (1985)

Born in New York City in 1939, Jack Herer dropped out of high school to join the Army and serve in Korea. He didn’t try smoking cannabis for the first time until he’d turned thirty, and not long after, ditched his job as a sign maker and opened up a head shop on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, pledging to campaign tirelessly until cannabis was legal and everyone was let out of prison, or he turned 84—whichever came first.

In 1981, Herer was arrested for trespassing on federal property while collecting signatures for a cannabis ballot initiative. Given two weeks in prison, he used the time to start work on The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which was published in 1985 and immediately lit a fire under the cannabis legalization movement and the hemp movement, both of which had been floundering in Reagan’s America.

Herer also captured the popular imagination by offering a $100,000 reward to anyone who could disprove the claims made in the book. The book’s title, meanwhile, refers to Hans Christian Anderson’s classic children’s tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, used here as an allegory for the failures and illogic of cannabis prohibition.

Mr. Nice (1996)

by Howard Marks

Howard Marks wasn’t a well-known entity outside of international cannabis smuggling circles until 1996, when he wrote Mr. Nice—a funny, frolicking, and ultimately life affirming first-person account of his life and crimes.

Marks created 25 separate businesses to launder his smuggling profits, while operating under 43 different aliases.

Marks first got started selling hashish—albeit it in small amounts—while studying nuclear physics at Oxford University. After a chance meeting with a Pakistani supplier, and an uneasy alliance with a senior member of the Irish Republican Army, he began to grow his operation until, according to the book, he’d created 25 separate businesses to launder his smuggling profits, while operating under 43 different aliases. He also claims to have made deals in concert with the CIA, the Mafia, and M16, the British spying agency, for whom he’s also claimed to be an asset.

Beyond all the action, adventure, travel and incredibly exotic cannabis detailed in the book, the real reason it became such a game changing success is the wit, wisdom, and cool British charm exuded by its author, who comes off as a perpetually stoned James Bond.

Shattered Lives (1998)

By Mikki Norris, Chris Conrad, Virginia Resner and RU Sirius

A massive undertaking championed for decades by cannabis couple Mikki Norris and Chris Conrad, Shattered Lives was the first book to put a human face on the terrible destruction of the war on drugs. Using art-quality photography and presentation, the book tells the tales of people and families from every walk of life, and from all over the country, in order to document in crushing detail how drug prohibition has the potential to shatter entire families.

Published at a time when few in politics or the media would consider the need for empathy and understanding towards those given long prison sentences for growing or selling cannabis, Shattered Lives—along with Mikki and Chris’s tireless effort to advocate for the families written about in the book—led to a sea change in our understanding of who actually gets busted for drugs in America, and what happens next.

It’s Just a Plant (2005)

by Ricardo Cortés

Think it’s a little weird that there’s a children’s book about cannabis? Well, you might feel differently if you had a few kids at home, and felt the need to explain to them why Mommy smokes a special plant to help her get through chemo, or why Daddy’s special brownies are only for grown-ups.

First published in a time when any discussion of cannabis and children bordered on the hysterical, It’s Just a Plant ignores all cultural fear mongering in favor of following “the journey of a young girl as she learns about the plant from a diverse cast of characters including her parents, a local farmer, a doctor, and a police officer.”

Written by Ricardo Cortés, the #1 bestselling illustrator of Go the Fuck to Sleep, the book is beautifully illustrated and does an admirable job of mixing education and advocacy, while seeking to “educate children about drugs by satisfying their curiosity but without piquing a desire to try them.”

Marijuana: Gateway to Health (2011)

by Clint Werner

By the time Marijuana: Gateway to Health was published in 2011, most reasonable people had already come to accept that cannabis can prove beneficial for those suffering through chemotherapy. But few medical cannabis supporters, even those fully devoted to promoting the plant’s therapeutic value, had a clue about how many serious ailments cannabis can improve, and how much scientific evidence there is proving this incredible therapeutic potential.

By writing a single volume that both chronicled the history of the medical cannabis movement and compiled the latest scientific studies into the plant’s efficacy, author and researcher Clint Werner made a powerful case that cannabis is not only effective at treating symptoms, but also preventing diseases, while supporting underlying healing and wellness.

Smoke Signals (2012)

Martin Lee’s authoritative and exhaustively researched “social history of marijuana” perhaps didn’t change the game, so much as it is the game.

Smoke Signals tells the story of a community of people who fought back against a terribly oppressive system to ultimately win the day.

In 528 pages, the bestselling author of Acid Dreams brings an incredible depth of knowledge and a sharp eye for heroism and hypocrisy to this long and winding tale of a plant that’s been celebrated and denigrated to an astonishing degree.

By showing not just what happened, but how and why it happened, not to mention how misguided and cruel the authorities were in carrying out this herbal vendetta, Smoke Signals tells the story of a community of people who fought back against a terribly oppressive system to ultimately win the day.

The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook (2012)

Full disclosure, this groundbreaking cookbook was written by my wife, noted edibles impresario Elise McDonough. I hesitate to include it for that reason alone, but truly do believe it changed the game in terms of expanding the idea of cannabis cuisine “beyond the brownie” at a time when many “real chefs” still scoffed at the idea.

But don’t take my word for it, because here’s what noted snobby food critic, and author of The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten wrote in Vogue:

“The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook is in a category of its own—intelligent, savvy, and knowledgeable about food, with excellent general information about cannabis and cooking with it. Yes, some of the recipes are of the getting-high-on-apple-pie variety. But the folks at High Times magazine know something about the role cannabis has played in the world’s history and culture, and my favorite recipes are those for iconic dishes, such as hash brownies, or those that cannot exist without cannabis, such as bhang.”

Beyond Buds (2014)

From its first issue in 1974, High Times magazine featured Ed Rosenthal’s coverage of cannabis cultivation, instantly making him one of the very few recognized experts on a subject that would remain largely sub rosa for the next forty years.

While still best known as a grow guru and rabble rouser, Rosenthal recently broke new ground, and changed the game (again), with the publication of Beyond Buds. A next-level examination of cannabis extracts—with sections on hash, vaping, dabbing, edibles and other medicinal applications—the book attempts to make sense of “marijuana’s future” at a time when a technological revolution has “generated powerful medicines and products containing almost zero carcinogens and little smoke,” while also teaching readers about safe extraction and consumption.

From memoirs to cookbooks to humorous page-turners, take a look at these twelve cannabis books that changed the game. ]]>