Adventures in Global Marijuana Cultures

By Nicole Kobie

I’ve been asked a lot lately what I’d like to do when I graduate. I finally have an answer. I’d like to travel the planet, smoke a lot of pot, and then write about it. Hey, if Brian Preston can do it, why can’t I? (Well, he is an award-winning writer and I’m not. And he writes for Rolling Stone and Playboy, and I don’t. But we can all have goals, right?)

Essentially a guide for toking travelers, Pot Planet: Adventures in Global Marijuana Cultures takes the reader on a tour of doobie destinations. As he’s from Vancouver, he starts and finishes in Canada, pretty well labeling it the friendliest and most civilized of his 11 pot-smoking nations. Not to mention, it’s got better weed. He finds he’d rather smoke Canadian joints than any other–including those found in Amsterdam. Because it’s legal there, too many tourists descend on the place.

Of course, all those random tourists smoking up just for fun are amateurs in the worst sense, like people who order Budweiser or drink Blue Nun. Preston sounds like a wine snob in much of his descriptions, but at least he explains things in a way that makes sense to lesser-educated chronics.

While it’s a fun book, Preston’s attitude towards smoking up–and the attitudes of those he interviews–put an inflated importance on pot. Marijuana is not the wonder weed he makes it out to be; smoking up is not a healthy pursuit. Sure, it’s fun, but Preston describes getting stoned like it’s a religious experience. To Preston, everyone who smokes up is automatically a liberal-minded activist directly connected to the environment. Surely some are, but a lot are also mindless, video-playing hosers. Anyone can light up. It doesn’t make you special if you do, or don’t for that matter.

Still, the rest of the chapters dedicated to places like Australia, Nepal, Thailand, Britain and Morocco offer interesting glimpses into the respective cultures and responses to drug-use. His engaging writing style makes the reading entertaining, and the extensive detail actually makes Pot Planet rather educational. However, Preston writes to a select group of people. If you’re anti-drug, Preston and his doper friends’ casual approach to smoking up will be frustrating. However, if you’ve got a bit of the pot-head in you, or can see past the drug use to the cultural descriptions, Preston will take you on an interesting trip.

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