Briefly Noted: Pot Mythology


“Marijuana is not anti-establishment because it’s illegal,” writes High Times Executive Editor David Bienenstock. “It’s illegal because it’s anti-establishment.”

I doubt that, and I worry that such pharmacological essentialism reinforces the ideology underlying the war on drugs. The Official High Times Pot Smoker’s Handbook (Chronicle Books), by Bienenstock and other editors of the magazine, suggests that marijuana’s fans, like its detractors, do not really believe “it’s just a plant.” Even while decrying marijuana “stereotypes,” Bienenstock reinforces his own.

Still, this copiously illustrated, easily digestible book is filled with useful and entertaining features, including tips on joint rolling and pot growing, advice for avoiding trouble with the police while driving, and ratings of Manhattan’s marijuana delivery services. Contrary to Bienenstock’s contention that marijuana’s meaning does not hinge on its legal status, very little of this material would make sense without prohibition.