National Hempfest Day (more popularly known as 4/20) is still over a week away, but those who honor the day can start their celebrating early with two new books.
For a darker, almost noir-ish exploration of America's history with marijuana, try James Higdon's The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate's Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History (Lyons Press, $25), in which Higdon documents the rise and fall of a colorful 1980s Kentucky marijuana syndicate that could trace its roots back to Depression-era moonshiners. When the group was eventually busted, 70 conspirators were arrested. The group's massively bearded and often shirtless leader, Johnny Boone, continued his activities after being released from prison and fled for parts unknown after officials found more than 2,000 seedlings in flowerpots on his property in 2008. He is still at large. Whether or not you partake, both of these books deserve your sober attention.
—Timothy Hodler, research director at Details