Food & Culture

New Book Traces the Evolution of Pot Legalization in Washington and Colorado

A local writer explores the unchartered world of legal weed

By Seattle Mag April 9, 2015


This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Back in 2012, environmental journalist Bruce Barcott was considering voting no on Initiative 502, due to a general distaste for cannabis culture and a vague fear that legalizing marijuana might make it too available to his kids. But after a bit of browbeating by a pro-legalization friend, the author (The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw), who lives on Bainbridge Island, did some research and discovered the startling statistics about pot-possession arrests—and the extreme racial bias exhibited therein. He checked yes on the ballot…and wrote a book on the radical culture shift legal weed has wrought, both personally and politically.

In Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America (Time Books; $27.95), Barcott traces the evolution of pot legalization in Washington and Colorado and the transformation of his own feelings on the subject. Having begun the journey with a “slim dossier” in terms of his own cannabis history, Barcott soon meets “potpreneurs,” visits grow sites, talks with Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers who use medical marijuana cream to loosen tight muscles, seeks out a medical marijuana card for himself, attends the Cannabis Cup, discerns a certain NIMBY pot vibe on Bainbridge, investigates the dangers of edibles, becomes irritated by the Hempfest hippie culture and now, vapes ganja a couple of times a month.

Hear Barcott read from this engaging, informative and very funny book when he speaks at Town Hall with Christian Hageseth, founder of Green Man Cannabis Ranch & Amphitheater (the “world’s first weedery,” set to open this fall in Denver) and author of Big Weed: An Entrepreneur’s High-Stakes Adventures in the Budding Legal Marijuana Business (4/21. 7:30 p.m. $5.


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