JUST SAY YES by Catherine Hiller


A Marijuana Memoir
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Filtering her experiences through the lens of her longtime use of cannabis, Hiller (The Adventures of Sid Sawyer, 2013) delves into her personal life for this “Marijuana Memoir.”

Hiller believes marijuana use should be normalized and that people should be more open about using it. There’s shame in using marijuana, she says, and “I write this account to counteract that shame.” For Hiller, marijuana touches every aspect of her life. It’s part of the birth of her children, her romantic relationships, and her professional routine. If she meets someone she’d like to befriend, she imagines smoking with them. She won’t eat at a restaurant without smoking beforehand. It helps her writing and editing, helps her creativity flow. The book roves, from personal anecdotes to reprinted lists from a government website to straight advocacy. Hiller does discuss some of the downsides of cannabis use, though she often seems to be disputing them. At one point, she talks about possible memory loss, saying that many of her friends who don’t smoke as much as she does also complain about being forgetful. She chalks it up more to age, but does admit “it’s entirely possible that I’d remember a lot more if I smoked a lot less.” She freely admits that some of her defense of smoking could be biased, as when she discusses how smoking might have debilitating effects on brain development in youths. She cites a study about this in the Journal of Addictions Medicine, but her disputation is entirely speculative: “This is a sobering warning,” she writes of the journal’s findings, “but what if ‘maturation of executive functions’ is achieved early, say at 16? Would smoking at 17 then make a person dopier?” By book’s end, a pattern has emerged: Hiller might not have been able to enjoy many of her life’s milestones without cannabis. She would say this is the wrong perspective, that smoking has enhanced her experiences, yet there seems to have been very little she did without smoking. As more states adopt marijuana-friendly laws, perhaps more and more readers will be OK with that.

Likely to loosen up fellow smokers while adding a personal take to the public discussion of cannabis culture.

Pub Date: April 20th, 2015
Page count: 136pp
Publisher: Heliotrope Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
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