The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life by Amanda Siebert (Greystone Books $14.95)

Review by Derek von Essen

Trying to convince your Mom to sample some “Granddaddy Purple” bud for that infernal back pain might be easier when paired with The Little Book of Cannabis by Amanda Siebert.

Siebert has presented a vast amount of information in an easy-to-read volume, with her chapter topics displaying a subtle sense of humour.
There’s many points made on the CBD vs THC (Cannabidiol vs Tetrahydrocannabinol) components of cannabis that would help Mom better understand why there is such a wide selection in the variety of strains available for purchase.

Typical is Chapter 7, “An Effective Source of Pain Management.” Like much of The Little Book of Cannabis, this chapter is divided up into interviews with people who’ve experienced the benefit of using cannabis (in this case, for relieving intense pain and discomfort).

We also get a case study involving the treatment of Tourette’s, with references to chronic and short-term pain management, treatment of infections, and other prescribed uses that all end well.

To her credit, Siebert does state that “the compounds in cannabis affect everyone differently because our endocannabinoid systems are all different.”
Dr. Mark Ware, professor and director of clinical research at Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre, speaks plainly on how it’s not the be-all and end-all of pain management.

His statements, and another alerting users to possible risk where there’s a history of psychosis or heart issues like arrhythmias, are two of the few negative associations to cannabis that I found in the whole book.
The entire book is pro-cannabis, without a doubt. I don’t dispute the research or the grand declarations made by Siebert, but some may find a counterbalance missing from the content.

The subtitle, How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life, is definitely the focus.
Siebert tends to give permission to indulge for just about every reason under the sun: relief from anxiety, depression, and insomnia; for levelling mood swings, socializing, sex, and easing creative blocks; for energy boosting, pain management, and easing effects of aging; for nutritional value, treating addiction, and extensive medicinal benefits … and much more.

The chapter “Using Cannabis as a Superfood” is especially enjoyable and informative. “[I]f you thought bacon was already too good to be true, it can be made even more wonderful by simply sprinkling a little cannabis on top while it’s in the frying pan.”

This section is excellent at breaking down the nutritional value of various forms of cannabis (fresh, dried, bud, leaves, seeds, etc.) and methods of preparation. Or jump ahead to the last chapter, “How to Prepare and Use Cannabis,” for even more detailed information.

According to Siebert’s research, large doses can be problematic but low doses (the hip contemporary term “micro-dosing” may apply) seem to be a win-win scenario for just about everything one could do in their waking hours—and it seems to be as effective during the sleeping hours, too.
The Little Book of Cannabis weighs heavily on the medicinal and health advantages of cannabis consumption, a conclusion validated by a long list of professionals and the author. The research is presented well and in detail, though not in so much detail as to turn into doctor-speak.

Siebert lays out many situations where taking the high out of cannabis might benefit users. I admit to still having difficulty comprehending the uses of cannabis without the bonus of feeling high from it. Would a non-alcoholic bourbon be enjoyable or have any marketable success? But not everyone wants to get baked when they’re healing.

Siebert’s pro-pot stance gets a little predictable and the overall “RAH! RAH! RAH!” gusto of it can tire one a bit. That was until I reached one of the last chapters, “Easing the Aging Process,” when I realized who the ideal target for this book should be.

There’s a bit of a generation gap noted with the elderly being tagged as skeptical of its benefits, but they’re also the largest group of new cannabis users.

Perhaps the benefits covered by Siebert would best serve the uninitiated and one’s parents and grandparents, who may have been most influenced by history’s “war on drugs” and “Reefer Madness.”

So next time your Mom complains about that back pain, and needs to go see her Budtender (a term I’ve only recently learned), you can send her along with the knowledge she’s gained from The Little Book of Cannabis.
It doesn’t compare with Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes (1985) or Andrew Struthers’ The Devil’s Weed/The Sacred Herb (New Star 2017). But to each his or her own.

I recall a time with friends when we were teenagers having mature conversation the likes of, “pot relieves my stress,” and “weed helps me focus,” and a multitude of other reasons justifying our favourite herb.
In the end, we’d be rolling on the floor in a fit of laughter as the statements became more and more absurd, degenerating as far as, “it makes it easier to have a crap!”

Well, as it turns out, that too is included in The Little Book of Cannabis as one of the many attributes of marijuana. 9781771644044

Derek von Essen is a graphic artist. painter, and photographer of No Flash, Please! Underground Music in Toronto 1987-92 (Anvil Press, 2016).