NPR contributor Fine (Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living, 2008, etc.) reports on his year spent in Northern California researching the hazy world of medical marijuana.
As the epicenter of the sustainable cannabis-growing industry in America, Mendocino County serves as the starting point for the story. Fine’s intention was to track one cloned female cannabis plant, later named Lucille, from the farmer who tended her to the first patient who inhaled her smoke. Along the way, the author explores the intertwined history of humans and cannabis, as well as potential future benefits of cannabis, including biofuel, textiles, foodstuffs, farming and substantial economic boosts for cash-strapped communities. In 2006, Fine writes, the medical cannabis crop contributed $100 million in “sales tax to California’s general fund.” The author peoples the narrative with a colorful cast, including Sheriff Tom Allman, who touts the departmental and countywide benefits of the cannabis industry in Mendocino; a ganjapreneur and member of the National Cannabis Industry Association who hopes medicinal cannabis will one day be branded in a manner similar to fine Napa Valley wine; and an indoor grower turned outdoor cannabis farmer who simply wants to pay his taxes while providing high-quality organic medicine to his patients. Fine also examines how the American people have borne the massive economic and social expenditures of the failed Drug War, which is “as unconscionably wrong for America as segregation and DDT.”
A captivating, solidly documented work rendered with wit and humor.