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Book Review: Joe Dolce’s Excellent Cannabis Adventure

brave new weed

Joe Dolce says he’s not a stoner—right on the back cover of Brave New Weed: Adventures into the Uncharted World of Cannabis—but that’s not entirely accurate. I’d call him a stoner with issues.

The former editor of Details and Star decided that marijuana is his new subject of interest, and he has created a compelling book that stands alongside deep reads like Martin A. Lee’s Smoke Signals and Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire.

Dolce places himself among a generation of lapsed 50-something pot smokers who got away from it after college. “I never deemed a mere weed to be worthy of respect,” he writes in the introduction. “Because of its prevalence, I just assumed cannabis wasn’t very interesting.”

But it’s during a trip to Denver that we find out what’s really been bothering Dolce about marijuana, when he takes a dab hit and gets sick. “I stumble outside in hopes of cold air slapping me straight, but it’s too late,” Dolce confesses. “A heave rumbles in my gut, kicking its way into my throat and out of my mouth, ending in a full Linda Blair exorcism.”

Brave New WeedIt’s this kind of graphic honesty that makes Brave New Weed so compelling. On a mission to better understand the plant, Dolce jets to Israel where he visits the lab of Dr. Ralph Mechoulam, the Israeli chemist who discovered THC in 1963. In answer to Dolce’s nagging question about why marijuana has made him ill, Mechoulam describes it as a form of overdose.

This revelation leads Dolce to the endocannabinoid system and the many chemicals and flavonoids in cannabis, such as CBD and terpines. After much searching, he finds a 1:1 THC/CBD spray to his liking, and a vaporizer (Storz & Bickel’s PLENTY) that “unleashes a sunny high with far less face-punching cognitive disturbance than you’ll get from a joint.” By the time he finishes his cannabis studies, Dolce has become an expert, predicting the future of pot in the final chapter, beginning with “Designing Your Highs.”

Dolce seeks dosage reliability, and contends that “this consistency is the primary reason that people who like control shy away from pot and veer toward more predictable substances.” By the end of his adventure, Dolce seems to have his issues with weed under control, and simply asks that “science take the lead.”

That’s a reasonable request from a born-again toker who now believes that “pot, used intelligently, might actually be good for you.” Amen, brother.

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