Smoke Signals

  • by Martin A. Lee
  • Narrated by Nick Podehl
  • 21 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Martin A. Lee traces the dramatic social history of marijuana, from its origins to its emergence in the 1960s as a defining force in a culture war that has never ceased. Lee describes how the illicit marijuana subculture overcame government opposition and morphed into a dynamic, multibillion-dollar industry.
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Similar laws have followed in more than a dozen other states, but not without antagonistic responses from federal, state, and local law enforcement. Lee, an award-winning investigative journalist, draws attention to underreported scientific breakthroughs that are reshaping the therapeutic landscape. By mining the plant’s rich pharmacopoeia, medical researchers have developed promising treatments for cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, chronic pain, and many other conditions that are beyond the reach of conventional cures. Colorful, illuminating, and at times irreverent, this is a fascinating listen for recreational users and patients, students and doctors, musicians and accountants, Baby Boomers and their kids, and anyone who has ever wondered about the secret life of this ubiquitous herb.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A hard book for me to rate

As someone who is really close to this issue, and fairly well informed on the subject, I might be more critical than someone with less information. My rating is really 3.5 stars, but with Audible not having the in-between option, I could not justify giving it four stars.

My main complaint about the book is the way that the information is presented. The case the author is making is strong enough that he didn't have to go down the road of making his contempt for the opposition so blatant. The facts about cannabis are so overwhelmingly in his favor that he would have been better off going out of his way to be fair instead of so obviously allowing his politics and philosophical views to bleed into the text. History is an examination of the facts as they are available, not telling a story with good guys and bad guys. Don't get me wrong, I'm on his side on almost every issue covered, I just got sick of hearing him pick apart every criticism leveled at pot and pot smokers, indignant at the lack of fairness, and then turn around and paint his opponents with a broad brush, even resorting to name calling and mockery, over and over again. It sounded more like a speech being delivered to a friendly audience at hempfest to rally the troops than a book for the general public. I kept expecting him to break out the Pom poms and lead a cheer for the almighty weed.

Nick Pohdel is a competent narrator, he's steady, clear and I only noticed one mispronounciation. I'm not sure he was the right choice for this book, however. Pohdel's reading can sometimes make Lee's writing sound preachy or indignant when it doesn't have to. His stiff, overly serious sounding style and dorky, white guy accent prevented the humor and lightheartedness of the writing from coming through.

All this being said, there's a lot of good information here. A lot of it was covered in Jack Herer's "The Emperor Wears No Cloths", but the later chapters provide a good crash course in what has taken place in the last twenty years. Political events are important, and he covers all of the big ones, but I would like to hear more about the cultural and economic aspects of the story that were not political in nature. Still, for a person who has not read a whole lot on the subject, this book has a lot to offer.

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- Blake

I might recommend, but barely

Any additional comments?

Thanks to Blake from Portland OR a couple in front of me for doing my review. I seldom review books, however, this particular topic is one I'm quite familiar with and most aspects of it interest me. To say I'm "Pro Pot" would be quite the understatement.That said, as Blake notes so well, this book is one sided as to be uncomfortable, even to readers "on the same page" as it were. The petty name calling starts early but is overlooked in anticipation of a balance that never appears. I was distracted by the "Neener Neener" kindergarten feel after a while.There are some interesting facts and anecdotes to be sure. I learned quite a bit in reading this book. Still, I'm not sure I'd recommend it, which is a shame.....avoidable.

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- Gregg

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-14-2012
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio