Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America
This is a book about marijuana legalization, why it's happening, and what it looks like from the inside. In 2012 I voted for legalization, reluctantly and skeptically, in my home state of Washington. I spent the next three years following its rollout and investigating the long strange history of cannabis in America. What I discovered--both in the past and the present--changed my life. It may do the same for you.
Here's one of my favorite Amazon reader reviews:
"Like the author, I’d scorned pot and pot culture since the day I quit the stuff. But within a few pages of Weed The People, my framework had been upended, and by the end, I’d been forced to rethink most of what I thought I knew about cannabis. Barcott not only lays out the political and legal contradictions of Pot Prohibition; he also shows how legalizing pot, and exposing pot culture to the discipline and expectations and logic of the marketplace just might wring out the culture’s seamier side. He doesn’t gloss over the risks. There is a long chapter on the ongoing question about pot and teenage schizophrenia (conclusion – we’re still trying to understand whether the connection is causal or simple a correlation), and plenty of info on the still-evolving edibles market. But these risks are put in the context of broader social and political benefits that may well come from allowing people to make their own decisions about a drug no more harmful (and probably a lot less harmful) than booze or tobacco.
As a bonus, Weed the People is a serious pleasure to read. Where a lot of writing on pot legalization is either hyper-sanctimonious or ultra-bro, “Weed the People” strikes a nice balance. No shortage of technical detail and history (really, really interesting history – like, s*** you will not believe happened, IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY). But there is also enough personal perspective and, yes, humor (though, thankfully, un-bro) that you can readily identify with the characters and the larger narrative. The accounts of the “suits” – non-pot-smoking business people—investing in marijuana are both hilarious and enlightening: business, it seems, is business. As are the descriptions of Barcott’s own “research.” The scribbled notes from his hotel room session room are priceless. And I found riveting the clash between Barcott’s research and his own mainstream, middle-aged family life. (“Could the dog smell the pot?” he wonders, as he passes a police dog after visiting a dispensary. And what to tell his kids?) And as a parent, I quite appreciated the account of his efforts to talk about drugs with his own teenage kids.
This book doesn’t make me want to do my own experimenting; Barcott leaves no doubt that today’s varieties are orders of magnitude more potent than what I was accustomed to. But he does make it a lot easier not to judge those who do."
TIME Special Issue: Marijuana Goes Main Street
When TIME Books and I partnered to publish Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America, we decided to try something new.
In addition to the usual hardcover and paperback editions of the book, we repurposed my research and writing to create a bookazine--one of those thick special issues you see on magazine racks near the checkout counter.
In "Marijuana Goes Main Street," TIME's brilliant editors and art directors surrounded Weed the People's story with historic photos, portraits of the book's main characters, and infographics that extend the reader's understanding.
I'm thrilled to report that we're now in the finishing stages of a revised and updated version of "Marijuana Goes Main Street," which will be published in April 2017.
The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw
Caring for orphaned animals at her own zoo in the tropical country of Belize, Sharon Matola became one of Central America’s greatest wildlife defenders. And when powerful outside forces conspired with the local government to build a dam that would flood the nesting ground of the only scarlet macaws in Belize, Matola was drawn into the fight of her life.
In The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, award-winning author Bruce Barcott chronicles Sharon Matola’s inspiring crusade to stop a multinational corporation in its tracks. Ferocious in her passion, Matila and her confederates–a ragtag army of courageous locals and eccentric expatriates–endure slander and reprisals and take the fight to the courtroom and the boardroom, from local village streets to protests around the globe. Barcott explores the tension between environmental conservation and human development, puts a human face on the battle over globalization, and ultimately shows us how one unwavering woman risked her life to save the most beautiful bird in the world.
The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier
In The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier, Seattle writer Bruce Barcott sets out to know Rainier. His method is exploratory, meandering, personal. He begins by encircling it, first by car then on foot. He finds that the mountain is a complex of moss-bearded hemlocks and old-growth firs, high meadows that blossom according to a precise natural timeclock, sheets of crumbling pumice, fractured glaciers, and unsteady magma. Its snow fields bristle with bug life, and its marmots chew rocks to keep their teeth from overgrowing.
Rainier rumbles with seismic twitches and jerks--some one-hundred-thirty earthquakes annually. The nightmare among geologists is the unstoppable wall of mud that will come rolling down its slopes when a hunk of mountain falls off, as it does every half century (and we’re fifty years overdue).
Rainier is both an obsession and a temple that attracts its own passionate acolytes: scientists, priests, rangers, and mountain guides. Rainier is also a monument to death: every year someone manages just to disappear on its flanks; imperiled climbers and their rescuers perish on glaciers; a planeload of Marines remains lodged in ice since they crashed into the mountain in 1946.
Referred to by locals as simply "the mountain," it is the single largest feature of the Pacific Northwest landscape--provided it isn’t hidden in clouds. Visible or not, though, its presence is undeniable.
In this vibrant anthology about the region and its people, editor Bruce Barcott endeavors to define the literary soul of the Northwest. Spanning two hundred years, Northwest Passages brings together writing from such natives, notables, and newcomers as ChiefSeattle, Rudyard Kipling, Jack Kerouac and Sherman Alexie.
I lived in a small town on the Olympic Peninsula for a year--loved it. Whenever I need a reminder of the beauty and history and love of literature that exists there, I pick up this book and dip into any page. It all comes back. Wonderful book. Recommend it. (Zia Dina, Amazon.com)
I absolutely loved this collection. Barcott does a great job introducing each era of Northwest writing covered in this book, then gives an interesting background about each author as a prelude to their excerpted work. I now have an expansive list of books to read from authors I encountered in this anthology!
I appreciate that so many disparate authors and subjects were brought together so eloquently here. From Indian creation stories and early Indian/European encounters to life in Seattle in modern times, it's all here. I think the length is just about right also. Too many books labor their point, whereas this one ends just as you've had your fill of rugged individuals and the tough landscape they occupy. I definitely found myself wishing for another chapter from some of the excerpts (such as "The Second Missouri Compromise"), which is what any good work of art should do--leave 'em wanting more! (Twillpants, Amazon.com)
The Wild Edge
This book is about a new way of looking at the world.
— From the introductory essay by Bruce Barcott
The Wild Edge: Freedom to Roam the Pacific Coast, by photographer Florian Schulz (Braided River Books). Introductory essay by Bruce Barcott, epilogue by Philippe Cousteau.
From Baja California’s lagoons to the kelp forests off the Channel Islands, through the inlets of the Salish Sea, and into the Arctic waters where polar bears swim, the west coast of North America boasts a remarkable mosaic of landscapes, habitats and creatures where land meets sea.
Join Florian Schulz on an epic photographic journey from Baja California to the Beaufort Sea. Along the way, you’ll see gray whales, manta rays, flocks of sea birds, spirit bears and so much more. Come to enjoy the beauty, and see how this remarkable ecosystem is connected from the depths of the ocean to the tops of ancient trees.
From the introductory essay:
For too long we've defined it only in parts: three nations and dozens of First Nations and Native American sovereign lands, two Canadian provinces, four American states, two Mexican states, seven major cities and hundreds of counties, towns, and sleepy backwater burgs. These are products of political borders, puzzle pieces meaningful to Homo sapiens but senseless to all the other species that turn the gears of the greater organic machine.
For too long we've remained disconnected from this great corridor by our limited understanding of the biological motion that quickens it. Now is the time to overcome the limitations of human sight. Time for us to see the full range of the B2B--Baja to the Beaufort Sea--as the gray whale, the Pacific salmon, the black bear, and the western sandpiper see it.