Box Brown Offers Up ‘Cannabis: An American History’ From SelfMadeHero

by Olly MacNamee

Coming this March from SelfMadeHero comes the graphic novel history of America’s love affair with cannabis, simply entitled Cannabis: An American History by award-winning cartoonist, Box Brown, NYT’s best-selling author of Andre The Giant: Life and Legend. From its origins on Mexican farms in the 16th century (at one point hemp was the largest agricultural crop globally) to the more recent easing of some state laws to see it now legalised, this book aims to cover a lot of ground, a lot of history, and a lot of legislative changes, too.

In the 16th century, during his violent colonial campaign, Cortés introduced hemp farming to Mexico. In secret, locals began cultivating the plant for consumption.
Cannabis made its way to the United States by means of the immigrant labour force. Once the plant had been shared with black labourers, it didn’t take long for American lawmakers to decry cannabis as the vice of “inferior races”. Enter an era of propaganda designed to whip up fear among the public. Dishonest and discriminatory campaigns, spearheaded by legislators and the press, spread vicious lies about a plant that had been used by humanity for thousands of years. The result: cannabis was given a schedule 1 classification, alongside heroin.
In this entertaining and expertly crafted graphic novel, Box Brown offers a rich, persuasive and eye-opening guide to the complex and troubled history of cannabis in America.

It sounds like a fascinating look at a drug that has been both demonised and glorified and one worthy to sit next to my once-illicit, dog-eared copy of the infamous book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes (1985) by Jack Herer that I managed to pick up years ago in the UK, and years before the internet made it freely available to anyone interested.


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