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Book Review: The Cannabis Manifesto

By Sue Vorenberg
Cannabis Daily Record

Here’s an odd admission for the start of a book review: I didn’t read all of Steve DeAngelo’s “The Cannabis Manifesto.”

(Steve DeAngelo)

(Steve DeAngelo)

The book is a highly detailed and well-written history and call to action for cannabis legalization. And I’d highly recommend it as a gift to friends who want to learn more about how unfairly maligned the plant has been over the past 70 years in the United States.

So why didn’t I read all of it? Because I knew quite a bit of it already – and I agree with much of what DeAngelo has to say.

But then again I cheated. I’ve been covering cannabis issues for much of my 20-year career in journalism.

DeAngelo, who’s been working on cannabis reform in California and elsewhere for more than 40 years, has an in-depth working knowledge of the industry that would be difficult for even most top experts to beat. His book is well-sourced with a detailed reference list to a host of articles at the end.

The manifesto includes eight areas – or pronouncements – from DeAngelo about the cannabis plant and how it has been treated. They include: “Cannabis is not harmful, but prohibition is.” “Cannabis should never have been made illegal.” “Cannabis has always been a medicine.”
“Choose cannabis for wellness, not intoxication.” “Cannabis reform doesn’t harm communities, it strengthens them.” “Cannabis should be taxed and regulated as a wellness product.” “Cannabis reform is a social-justice movement.” And “Legalization cannot and will not be stopped.”

But it’s DeAngelo’s personal stories and insights that I found most interesting. Especially when he talks about the more spiritual, inner-insight aspects of the plant.

“My own first consumption revealed a deeper significance – that cannabis could enhance my spiritual awareness and personal introspection. I discovered that cannabis helped me sleep, and added to my enjoyment of music, food and sex,” he wrote in the preface.

That’s a critical thing to understand as the notion of gourmet cannabis continues to evolve. It’s an enhancer of things, a substance that can make you understand more about yourself and the world around you. It’s not just about getting as stoned as you can, eating too much and watching TV. It’s about using it in moderation to help you see more and become more integrated into what’s around you.

DeAngelo takes that a step further in his chapter about wellness:

“Today, I believe there is no such thing as the recreational use of cannabis. The concept is equally embraced by prohibitionists and self-professed stoners, but it is self-limiting and profoundly unhealthy. Defining cannabis consumption as elective recreation ignores fundamental human biology and history, and devalues the very real benefits the plant provides,” he said.

Personally I’m not sure I’d take it that far – I’m looking at you, my recreational high-THC seeking stoner friends – but that said, a huge portion of the recreational cannabis market in Washington is made up of people who are using the plant medicinally. And I’m not just talking about the serious cancer, AIDS and other patients using it – I’m talking about older consumers in the 40s, 50s, 60s and up who are using the plant to relieve pain, to help them sleep or to lessen anxiety.

And I think we need a better way to describe cannabis as an over-the-counter medication and health aid in recreational consumer markets – rather than just clumping it in with the prevalent stereotype of binge stoners.

That’s another great aspect of DeAngelo’s book though. It gets you thinking – and it has some wonderful tidbits both for newcomers and for people who have a fairly extensive knowledge of the plant.

I’d highly recommend checking it out – and it may be the perfect Christmas gift this season for friends or family that want to know more about this amazing plant.

Retail price is $18.95. For more, including links on where to order the book, visit DeAngelo’s website at

Sue Vorenberg is the founder of Cannabis Daily Record. She has 20 years of experience as a journalist covering a wide array of topics, including cannabis legalization and consumer markets. She also founded The Columbian’s Cannabis Chronicles blog and spent about three months working in the industry. You can reach her at




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