Book Review by Sapphire Ng
Brave New Weed: Adventures into the Uncharted World of Cannabis
by Joe Dolce
Copyright October 2016
Hardcover, 288 Pages
An absolutely entertaining and captivating book that keeps one glued to the pages from beginning to end. This book is a purposeful and solid blend of amazing storytelling, intriguing science, illuminating history, and dynamic personal recount, rendered in an articulately impassioned authorial voice and expressive writing.
This book is perfect for the reader generally unacquainted with the world of cannabis; he or she will have much to discover and to be astounded by, as he or she follows the author along on his experiential, exciting, and progressive learning journey.
Dolce’s enthusiasm for cannabis is unmistakable, and his advocacy for both the legalization and “normalization” of cannabis is contagious. Drug legalization proponents along with those harboring neutral stances would likely enjoy the book, but the same might not apply for those possessing strong sentiments against cannabis legalization, and it might be a somewhat uncomfortable reading experience for them.
This however certainly does not preclude the possibility of cannabis opponents with an open mind devouring the book and thereafter coming away with a greater empathy for the antithetical viewpoint, or to feel somewhat persuaded by, or concede to, certain points or arguments made by the author. This category of readers at the very least could grow and mature intellectually from assimilating the alternative perspective.
The author covers certain cannabis basics, with details mind-bogglingly profound. The reader will be introduced to the constituents of cannabis, for example THC, CBD, and terpenes—smell molecules such as myrcene, pinene and caryophyllene—, and their respective roles and mutual interplay; the notion of dabs— “a dab is a mind-stinging 70 to 90 precent THC”—and significance of dose control and microdosing; and even the baffling numerical estimate of compounds contained in the cannabis plant.
Scientific material covered in the book are particularly enjoyable and distinctly intellectually-satisfying for me. Discussion of the endocannabinoid system—the “supercomputer,” or “largest signaling system” in the human body—is one such example of fascinating coverage. Scientific evidence furnished that elucidate the ways cannabinoids protect the brain from injury in the instances of for example, sports and war, is another utterly engrossing angle offered in the book, and of course, no less riveting are further medical discussions of cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and anandamide in relation to cannabis. Even rather brief considerations of the failure of the drug rimonabant is astoundingly eye-opening.
The compelling coverage of relevant historical details are another key strength of the book. Information provided on the American War on Drugs, the tireless generation of anticannabis propaganda and fearmongering in the country, the enactment of the Marijuana Tax Act and the passage of anti-marijuana prohibitions in specific US states, and the presidential disavowal of “the most comprehensive government study of cannabis in American history” are but a sampling of particulars meaningful and compelling to the curious and educated citizen.
The book also notably includes discussion of the very country ascribed as “the nucleus of cannabis research”—Israel—along with the Israeli scientist credited for discovering THC; the history of, and implications thereafter of—for example in terms of access to the plant, and ease, or lack thereof, for research—, cannabis’s classification, alongside substances such as heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy, as a schedule I narcotic; certain intriguing details about indoor cannabis grows, such as lighting strength and brightness; and astonishing stories presented by the author as testament to the “miraculous” cannabis—its extraordinary healing effects, and its seemingly expansive scope of cure.
It is no accident that the book incorporates humor at certain junctures; it appears to be an innate trait of the author. A particular stand-out was when Dolce followed a paragraph indicating the harsh reality of cannabis businesses being potentially responsible for paying a federal income tax upwards of 70 percent with the one-liner, “It’s a good thing they sell a product that quells anxiety.”
As for the author’s admirably evocative writing, his exquisite use of metaphor in the following sentence speaks for itself, “the other common effect of cannabis is time slowdown, that pleasantly languorous experience of the hands of the clock pushing through honey.”
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours for this review.