As ubiquitous as it is controversial, marijuana has emerged as a prominent economic and cultural force in North America despite massive government opposition. Although it is prohibited by federal law in the United States, half of all Americans have tried marijuana and tens of millions use the herb regularly for recreational as well as medicinal purposes.
Smoke Signals is a panoramic, character-driven, social history of marijuana and its shifting role in the American narrative. It tells the story of a grassroots countercultural movement that began in the 1960s and grew into a widespread populist revolt against conventional medicine and extraconstitutional authority.
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, legalizing medical marijuana. Similar laws have followed in more than a dozen other states, but not without antagonistic responses from federal, state, and local law enforcement.
Martin A. Lee, an award-winning investigative journalist, draws attention to underreported scientific breakthroughs that are reshaping the therapeutic landscape, including the discovery of a nonpsychoactive component of marijuana that protects the brain against alcohol poisoning, stimulates adult stem cell growth, and shrinks malignant tumors. (And it doesn't get you high.) 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 irreverent, Smoke Signals is a fascinating read for patients and weekend smokers, students and doctors, musicians and accountants, Baby Boomers and their kids, and anyone who has ever wondered about the secret life of this remarkable plant.
“Smoke Signals is an important, serious-minded look at the role cannabis has played in American history. [Lee] tackles the hard issues of marijuana prohibition with keen insight and righteous indignation. I agree with Lee’s central premise that our marijuana laws are draconian. Every American should read this landmark book!” -- Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of Cronkite
Martin A. Lee is the author of three books, including Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond and The Beast Reawakens. He is the cofounder and director of Project CBD, an educational service that monitors and reports on developments in cannabidiol science and therapeutics, and associate editor of O’Shaughnessy’s, the journal of cannabis in clinical practice. Lee is also co-founder of the New York-based media research group FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) and former editor of FAIR’s magazine Extra! His articles have appeared in many publications in the United States and abroad, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Harper’s, The Nation, Le Monde Diplomatique, Christian Science Monitor and Mother Jones. He has been a guest on CBS' 48 Hours, CNN, CNBC, C-Span, the History Channel, NPR’s Fresh Air, and has lectured at numerous colleges and universities.