How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High by David Bienenstock

How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High is a 288-page nonfiction novel published by Plume in April of 2016 (I can’t believe they missed out on publishing on 4/20!). I received a free copy of the book from Penguin’s First to Read program.

How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting HighThe novel begins with a succinct history of cannabis and goes on to discuss everything from humanity’s use of the plant in spiritual rituals, medicine, and daily life to the entrepreneurial efforts and scientific research of cannabis taking place today.

Bienenstock provides a fantastic and fascinating overview of the possibilities of cannabis–relieving patients who are suffering, community growth, and rapidly growing business opportunities. A plethora of careers–from budtenders (serving customers at a weed dispensary) to tourist endeavors (hotels and entertainment)–become possible with ending cannabis prohibition. It’s brilliantly argued that tourists (of states like Colorado) buying weed with no legal recourse to take the plant out of state would be more than happy to stimulate the local economy by seeing shows, eating at local restaurants, and staying in a hotel during their trip. The discussion on the history of legislation and stigma surrounding cannabis is a little indignant, but also quite accurate.

As the previous editor for High Times, Bienenstock turns his insider knowledge into a travel guide featuring states and countries where pot is decriminalized. Basically, this book has everything for someone who is interested in learning the risks and benefits of cannabis; how to find, buy, and use cannabis; and how to spread and promote knowledge of the plant.

I find Bienenstock’s goal–ensuring cannabis culture influences business and government instead of the other way around–both refreshing and necessary. This book is smart and fun (tons of pot puns, obviously) and is great for both beginners interested in learning key points in the legalization debate and for experts looking for little-known travel spots to enjoy on a cannabis vacation.

It was eye opening to read an account from someone who has traveled the world in order to document the quickly progressing recent history of cannabis, which has transformed from a little-known, misunderstood, and hard-to-acquire illegal drug to “the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States” and something that is vitally important to many people.

I loved every minute of this novel, and would recommend it to both those who preach for the herb and those who naysay against it. How to Smoke Pot (Properly) is a crucial addition to the discussion on cannabis. It was educational and entertaining and an all around rewarding read.

TITLEHow to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High
AUTHOR: David Bienenstock
PAGES: 288
ALSO WROTE: Legalized It!, The Official High Times Pot Smoker’s Handbook
FIRST LINE: Once literally demonized as “the Devil’s lettuce,” and linked to all manner of deviant behavior by the establishment’s shameless anti-pot propaganda campaigns, Cannabis sativa has lately been enjoying a long-overdue Renaissance.

1.  There’s a time and place for gravity bongs, and it’s called college.

2. [H]erbal enthusiasts can at last look forward to [… a] glorious day when cannabis is duly recognized as a lifesaving medicine, an incredibly nutritious food, an amazingly useful industrial crop, a far safer alternative to alcohol, a renewable energy source, and an all-around enhancer of life’s pleasures.


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