Bud Lit: A 2013 Summer Reading Guide 

Legalization Nation collects the highlights of 2013 cannabis nonfiction so far.

Why kick back and relax during your vacation this summer when you can give your brain a workout with the best cannabis nonfiction of the year? We're talking about key messaging for the California legalization battle of 2016 (yes, that's happening); pot-growing exposés; pee-test explanations; a field guide for bud-watching; and some baked Italian recipes.

Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?

The activists who made marijuana legal in Colorado have updated the research in their 2009 book, and have included a first draft of history — as told by the victors in Colorado. Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) director Mason Tvert, NORML's Paul Armentano, and Marijuana Policy Project's Steve Fox explain how the SAFER-led Amendment 64 effort garnered more votes in Colorado than President Obama in the November 2012 election.

In 2005, after two fatal alcohol poisonings at a college in Boulder, SAFER homed in on a core problem with the legalization argument: Up to two-thirds of Americans believe cannabis is as dangerous or more dangerous than alcohol. In truth, alcohol is associated with two-thirds of all domestic violence incidents, anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of all violent crime, and about 100,000 sexual assaults each year. Ex-Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper provides a sharp contrast in the foreword: "It is abundantly clear that marijuana is rarely, if ever the cause of harmfully disruptive or violent behavior."

Humboldt: Life on America's Marijuana Frontier

Columbia University journalism school graduate and Sonoma County native Emily Brady spent a year in the epicenter of domestic cannabis production — the Emerald Triangle of Northern California, which includes Mendocino, Trinity, and Humboldt counties — to explore the ethos of "keep weed illegal": a policy that props up crop prices, land values, and an entire way of life.

Brady effectively draws you into the story of four eccentric dopers — Mare, Crockett, Emma, and Bob — who are real people (and the book details real events in their lives), although Brady changed their names and fictionalized their identifying characteristics to protect them. A small glossary of Humboldt terms, such as "CAMP," "diesel dope," and "hipneck," opens the paperback book. Humboldt is truly a world unto itself.

Marijuana Smoker's Guidebook: The Easy Way to Identify and Enjoy Marijuana Strains

For many Americans, weed is weed. But in the Bay Area, Boulder, Seattle, and other cannabis hubs, it's "OG Kush" or "Grand Daddy Purple" or several hundred other varietal names. And Matt Mernagh, a grower, activist, and writer, has compiled a small, handy, full-color paperback with 150 descriptions of the world's most popular strains.

Mernagh describes, for example, Juicy Fruit as being "like the gum: its effects are not long lasting, ... [but its] heavy and beautiful bag-appealing buds make it a commercial cropper for fruity flavored strains." Big Buddha Cheese's "stink will give you away in public at 100 paces. ... The really relaxing stone is great for a slow, lazy afternoon." Mango is "packed with ripe, melon richness" and "will have you flying out the door without a jittery 'too much coffee' effect."

Baked Italian

Edibles are evolving past sweet treats like pot brownies and dankies (medicated Twinkies) and into savory, healthy dishes. Billing itself as a "high-end marijuana cookbook for the Jamie Oliver generation," Baked Italian contains more than fifty gourmet recipes and one hundred images, along with step-by-step instructions.

Weed is a spicy, harsh-tasting plant that's difficult to cook because of its flavor, consistency, and inability to dissolve in water. Baked Italian tackles the sticky pungent herb head-on with five extraction techniques using butter, oil, milk, Campari, vodka, and gin. Subsequent recipes counteract the problematic flavor, texture, and solubility of cannabis. They include marijuana-infused spaghetti marinara, crostini, lemon panna cotta ganja gin, and coffee gelato.

California NORML Guide to Drug Testing

Dale Gieringer, head of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has released a primer on the very widespread and consequential practice of drug testing for marijuana. The 44-page, fact-packed booklet covers the kinds of drug testing medical cannabis patients might encounter at work, on the road, and in the delivery room, as well as the astoundingly shitty reliability of the tests.

Gieringer sat in on the California Center for Medical Cannabis Research at UC San Diego and details factors that can confound weed tests. For example, common baby soaps can make an infant test positive for pot. The guide also explains the dark art of beating common workplace urinalysis through dilution aids and tampering, and provides concrete data on exactly how marijuana can impair an automobile driver and how much weed is needed to do so.

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