Review: The Essential Cannabis Book – A Field Guide for the Curious, by Rob Mejia
With the proliferation of legal and medical marijuana throughout North America there has been a flood of books out there promising to be the perfect book for the cannabis beginner. The Essential Cannabis Book – A Field Guide for the Curious is one of these books.
Motivated to discover how cannabis could help a family member with cancer, Author Rob Mejia traveled throughout the legal cannabis states in the US, as well as Uruguay, the first nation with legal marijuana. Mejia translates his experiences and knowledge in a short, easily-readable softcover book replete with gorgeous color pictures and explanatory tables.
However, following a foreword from Irv Rosenfeld, one of two remaining US federal medical marijuana patients, Mejia introduces the book with “An Open Letter to Moms, Dads, Guardians, Friends, Etc. (of Cannabis Users).” This frames the book as one that a younger person, already knowledgeable about cannabis, might be gifting to an older person in their lives. If that’s your motivation, be sure they have their reading glasses, as the typeface may be a bit small for some older readers.
Also, the term “Field Guide” evokes the small pocket-sized books one takes with them out into the field, like for bird-watching or mushroom-picking. This book is not one of those; it is more a standard-sized book.
The topics you’d expect to find in a cannabis primer are found in well-organized chapters. The first half of the book covers the history, science, and medical benefits of cannabis, then explaining the techniques for personal and responsible consumption. “Newcomers to smoking cannabis may have a picture Cheech & Chong… guys who kept smoking well after they were stoned,” Mejia writes. “But responsible consumption starts with going low and slow.”
That advice is very important for the second half of the book, which is dedicated to the techniques of infusing cannabis oil and butters, recipes for cannabis-infused dishes, and setting up a cannabis-infused dinner party. It very much feels like the first half of the book could have been its own cannabis primer, with this second half standing alone as its own cannabis cookbook. If you’re looking for those two books in one, you’ll appreciate this, but if you or the elder you’re gifting this book to has no interest in cooking, you may feel like you bought too much book.
The book concludes with a chapter on the activism surrounding marijuana, which could have been the closer for the first-half primer. There is a useful appendix that summarizes main concepts of the entire book in bullet point form, followed by reading lists of other cannabis books and websites. Mejia also includes sample sheets for a cannabis journal that readers could photocopy and use for their own cannabis strain evaluations.
The information in the book is well-presented and comprehensive, though some data has changed since publishing (i.e. The 2018 Farm Bill has legalized hemp nationwide, more states have passed medical and legal marijuana laws). But there are other small, inconsequential mistakes (e.g., “THC – pronounced tetra-hydro-canna-bid-e-noll”) that can be annoying to an informed reader. There is plenty for beginners to learn from this book, but there are real field guides and cannabis cookbooks out there that do a better job.