Official Review: Marijuana Unleashed

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Eva Darrington
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Official Review: Marijuana Unleashed

Post by Eva Darrington » 04 Jul 2018, 15:19

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Marijuana Unleashed" by D.Breneman McCaslin - Jack Herer.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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“Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke these words during a 2016 Senate drug hearing. The statement embodies one position in a century-long battle about the dangers and the benefits of the magic plant. Marijuana Unleashed, author Breneman McCaslin’s 2018 book, outlines how a small but influential group of politicians and entrepreneurs waged an organized campaign to destroy marijuana production and the people who grow it, sell it, or use it.

McCaslin reminds us that United States citizens had been using marijuana since the 1840s with no evidence at all of it being habit-forming or being linked to violent behavior. It was widely used for many practical and medicinal purposes. At some point in the 1930s, however, the thinking about marijuana changed drastically. McCaslin writes “This leads us to an important question: If it was not fear of health or social consequences that led to the eventual ban of Marijuana use in America…what did?”

Marijuana Unleashed outlines an orchestrated effort by United States drug officials and key entrepreneurs to discredit marijuana’s benefits, fabricate lies about its dangers, and halt its production. The author demonstrates how racism and other intentionally manipulated social norms drove the unjust demonization of marijuana in the last fifty years. The producers of fossil fuels, paper products, textiles, and pharmaceutical drugs were all poised to suffer from the production of hemp and marijuana. If marijuana had not been banned, ”80% of DuPont’s business would never have materialized and the great majority of the pollution which has poisoned our Northwestern and Southeastern rivers would not have occurred.” Competing against new marijuana technologies, according to McCaslin, “would have jeopardized the lucrative financial schemes of William Randolph Hearst, the DuPont family, and DuPont’s chief financial backer, Andrew Mellon of the Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh.”

In 1931, Harry J. Anslinger was appointed the first commissioner of the United States Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the Drug Enforcement Agency). In 1937, while testifying before Congress, Anslinger claimed, “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.” While Anslinger was pushing his racist, anti-marijuana agenda, individual states were creating their own initiatives against jazz, rock-and-roll, and marijuana, “to stop ‘evil’ music and keep white women from falling prey to blacks through jazz and Marijuana.” The author includes graphics of various anti-marijuana propaganda posters, including one with a “before” picture of a white businessman. The poster reads, “good job, nice house, loving wife and kids.” The “after” photo of a black man lying in the gutter says “he caught AIDS by sharing used marijuana….” The author effectively uses visual images of this anti-marijuana campaign to illustrate the potency of the movement.

McCaslin refers several times to a book by his colleague, Jack Herer. In The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Herer claims that if all fossil fuels, as well as trees for paper and construction, were banned in order to save the planet and stop deforestation, marijuana is the one substance that would be capable of providing the world’s paper, textile, and energy needs. Moreover, Herer claims the use of marijuana in place of these other products and practices would reduce pollution, rebuild the soil, and clean the atmosphere. Breneman McCaslin frequently praises Jack Herer’s book and even pictures its cover again and again, randomly but often, on the pages of his own book. This odd practice and other anomalies in this publication muddled McCaslin’s message and rendered it awkward.

The tone of McCaslin’s writing is hyperbolic, and the presentation is disjointed and jarring. There are no transitions between very divergent topics, and it is difficult to follow a cohesive thread in this author’s writing. The organization style is unsuccessful in inviting the reader into the content, and the presentation of the book distracts from the message. Many of the paragraphs are very short and begin with indentation rather than having spaces between them. The result is a mass of short, indented paragraphs, at times causing a visual wreckage of random sentences. There are very few introductory or conclusive statements in this stream-of-consciousness style of writing. It would have helped immensely to have actual chapters and an organization to the book’s message arc.

The text of Marijuana Unleashed is interspersed with illustrations and photos. The figures are intriguing, and they add to the interest of the story. Much of the text is underlined, bolded, colored, boxed, or highlighted with bright yellow. If the purpose was to indicate emphasis, it was very ineffective because nearly everything would be emphasized. I didn’t understand the overuse of these tools. Almost every page has numerous topic headings, and these are listed in the table of contents as separate sections or chapters. So, the table of contents is several pages long. Again, this was ineffective and served to distract from the message. I did enjoy the images of historical posters and advertisements, touting the dangers of the “killer drug.” But, the practice of constant highlighting, bolding, boxing, and underlining was tedious. The book’s length is only about eighty-three pages, including an extensive bibliography. However, the dense content, the small type, and the chaotic organization make it seem much longer.

For all of its wackiness, this book is edited reasonably well for punctuation and grammar. It lacks structural and content editing. The writing is not elegant, but it is passable for non-fiction. I rate Marijuana Unleashed 2 out of 4 stars. I think those who are interested in the history of marijuana legislation might enjoy this book and appreciate the graphics and informal style. It does not, however, have the organization and cohesive messaging deserving of a 3- or 4-star rating.

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Marijuana Unleashed
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Post by Britty01 » 06 Jul 2018, 10:48

Excellent review Eva. After reading this I will pass on this book. I got the impression the author is quite invested in the topic. As for environmental impacts there is growing concern about Marijuana production, not to mention the human destruction. Some of the claims in the book seem a little difficult to believe.

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Post by Eva Darrington » 06 Jul 2018, 11:02

Britty01 wrote:
06 Jul 2018, 10:48
Excellent review Eva. After reading this I will pass on this book. I got the impression the author is quite invested in the topic. As for environmental impacts there is growing concern about Marijuana production, not to mention the human destruction. Some of the claims in the book seem a little difficult to believe.
Yes, the author's investment in this appears to be pretty intense. And, the tone is pretty over-the-top. I learned about the history of marijuana legislation and he did use lots of endnotes and footnotes to back up his claims. Still, I support your choice to skip this one. :) Thanks so much for stopping by.
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Post by Faithmwangi » 06 Jul 2018, 11:46

I have never been caught up in finding out more about marijuana's history or even how the fight against it began. The review has actually opened up my eyes on a few of those issues and also I have learned a thing or two.
However, it sounds like the author is trying to force on his information. I will be passing over this read but I enjoyed the review. It was pretty detailed and nicely done considering it wasn't the most intriguing book.

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Post by S Chinaski » 06 Jul 2018, 12:13

Fantastic review; it's terribly unfortunate that the author missed the mark with his approach to the content.
I have always found the history of marijuana prohibition fascinating and the potential uses for cannabis to be very promising, so it's a shame when such an innately compelling story gets diluted by sensationalism or personal investment/bias.

I'm on the fence about checking it out; my desire for a properly executed read is at odds with my interest in marijuana. :)

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Post by Cecilia_L » 06 Jul 2018, 13:25

I found your review very interesting, but the lack of cohesion and structure in the book's format would be really distracting to me, too.

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Post by Eva Darrington » 06 Jul 2018, 13:28

Faithmwangi wrote:
06 Jul 2018, 11:46
I have never been caught up in finding out more about marijuana's history or even how the fight against it began. The review has actually opened up my eyes on a few of those issues and also I have learned a thing or two.
However, it sounds like the author is trying to force on his information. I will be passing over this read but I enjoyed the review. It was pretty detailed and nicely done considering it wasn't the most intriguing book.
Yes, the author has a strong agenda. I did learn quite a bit history from the book that was well-resourced. Thanks so much for stopping by today.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams

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Post by Eva Darrington » 06 Jul 2018, 13:31

Cecilia_L wrote:
06 Jul 2018, 13:25
I found your review very interesting, but the lack of cohesion and structure in the book's format would be really distracting to me, too.
Yes, I don't recommend this book unless you enjoy lots of stylistic license. It didn't work well. Thanks so much for stopping by today.
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Post by Dahmy 10 » 06 Jul 2018, 13:35

This is quite an elaborate review. Seems you have portrayed the history of Marijuana well enough, one might not need to read the book....

I could read it if I only have the time, I am always interested in history!!

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Post by Eva Darrington » 06 Jul 2018, 18:42

Dahmy 10 wrote:
06 Jul 2018, 13:35
This is quite an elaborate review. Seems you have portrayed the history of Marijuana well enough, one might not need to read the book....

I could read it if I only have the time, I am always interested in history!!
Oh gosh, I hope I didn't overdo the book summary in my review. That is something I may need to think about. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
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Post by crediblereading2 » 06 Jul 2018, 21:38

Very insightful review. Marijuana is indeed a very beneficial plant. It carries a lot of healing properties for the mind, spirit, and body. It should, however, be taken with proper care and guidance for persons who are using it for the first time.

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Post by osayuwamen6 » 07 Jul 2018, 08:08

It was quite a detailed review and I learned a few things from the review about marijuana. One will have to keep in mind that there are health benefits of marijuana if properly used but could be hazardous if misused.The writer did a brilliant research.

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Post by producedan2410 » 07 Jul 2018, 09:16

Great flowing review. I enjoyed the easy rhythm of the information and will be reading this book. Thank you Eva

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Post by Eva Darrington » 18 Jul 2018, 16:52

crediblereading2 wrote:
06 Jul 2018, 21:38
Very insightful review. Marijuana is indeed a very beneficial plant. It carries a lot of healing properties for the mind, spirit, and body. It should, however, be taken with proper care and guidance for persons who are using it for the first time.
Thanks so much. Yes, you are right. The author didn't address the potential hazards of the substance. I appreciate you stopping by. Thank you.
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Post by Eva Darrington » 18 Jul 2018, 16:54

osayuwamen6 wrote:
07 Jul 2018, 08:08
It was quite a detailed review and I learned a few things from the review about marijuana. One will have to keep in mind that there are health benefits of marijuana if properly used but could be hazardous if misused.The writer did a brilliant research.
Yes, I agree, the book could have been more forthcoming about some of the dangers of the substance. It was intriguing, nonetheless. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams

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