Recently I had the pleasure of reading a lovely little book called The Joy of Cannabis. I have to admit, although a life-long adult cannabis user who has written tens of thousands of words on the subject, holding this clever volume in my hands made me nearly as giddy as my nine-year-old self holding the book’s spiritual predecessor, The Joy of Sex.
Like with that 1972 classic, co-authors Melanie Abrams and Larry Smith seek to demystify an activity that is commonplace in the human experience—getting high. Via email, I connected with the authors to learn what motivated the project.
Michael Giotis: I appreciate the how-to nature of the book, and the loose modeling on books like the classic The Joy of Sex. Why a how-to?
Abrams and Smith: We wanted to write a book that would be a warm welcome for the canna-curious and still offer some new ideas and insight for canna-connoisseurs. So our book is a mix of “how-to,” sober science and playful activities that help readers unlock the mind and body and help increase productivity, connection, and, above all, joy.
We also address issues like equity and inclusion and the importance of supporting BIPOC-owned canna-businesses; these are issues that are top of mind for many and yet for others they may not have considered.
The time seems right for this book. With the rise of CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabis derived molecules, many an auntie suddenly is in need of information on the plant. Who can benefit from this book?
We felt this in a very personal way. As soon as we started working on the book, friends, friends of friends and parents of friends began flooding us with questions: Can cannabis help with my anxiety? Pain? Sleep? Will it help reconnect me with my partner, my parent, my long lost friend? Do people really get more focused and productive with edibles? What’s the best way to use cannabis? How do I navigate a dispensary? Why do you call it “cannabis” and not “marijuana”?
The art and layout is really cool. It is very easy to scan through the text for useful information. Say a few words about the art, artist.
And it was important for us to create something that’s both an informative book and a beautiful book, one to be proudly displayed on coffee tables, desks and bedside tables as we all work to normalize the use of this amazing ancient flower. We were able to do this with the help of an amazing artist named Camila Gray. The art in the book is gorgeous, but we also love the diversity of backgrounds and bodies she showcases.
What are some concerns with cannabis use?
Studies reveal that the frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25. In a perfect world, no one would consume any type of drug or alcohol until 25. The reality is that many teens will consume one or both. It’s all of our responsibility to remind them to take it easy and use cannabis responsibly and in moderation.
How did you come to work together?
We met three years ago at a party in the Bay Area and [over some weed] began a conversation that hasn’t stopped. Along the way, we realized we loved cannabis for the same reasons: This magical flower helps unlock creativity and connection, decreases inhibitions and helps you be gloriously in the moment. ‘The Joy of Cannabis’ is co-written by Larry Smith (a journalist and founder of the Six-Word Memoir Project) and Melanie Abrams (novelist and professor of creative writing at UC Berkeley).