Reporting for the Los Angeles Times on the international blind tasting competition held annually in Amsterdam known as the Cannabis Cup, novelist Mark Haskell Smith sampled a variety of marijuana that was unlike anything he’d experienced. It wasn’t anything like typical stoner weed, in fact it didn’t get you stoned. This cannabis possessed an ephemeral quality known to aficionados as “dankness.”
Armed with a State of California Medical Marijuana recommendation, he begins a journey into the international underground where super-high-grade marijuana is developed and tracks down the rag-tag community of underground botanists, outlaw farmers, and renegade strain hunters who pursue excellence and diversity in marijuana, defying the law to find new flavors, tastes, and effects. This unrelenting pursuit of dankness climaxes at the Cannabis Cup, which Haskell Smith vividly portrays as the Super Bowl/Mardi Gras of the world's largest cash crop.
Novelist Smith (Baked) travels the multibillion-dollar world of high-end marijuana production from the sequoia groves of California to the cafes of Amsterdam. Smith's quest is to discover the essence of "dankness," that quality which differentiates the good buds from the great. Along the way, Smith meets growers, buyers and "bud tenders," and explores the murky legal status of the medical marijuana movement. Smith's journey ends at the 2010 Cannabis Cup, where sativa strains like "Chocolope" and "Sour Power" battle for supremacy. Smith is a good-natured guide and the narrative moves smoothly. However, his approach remains superficial and repetitive in both substance and style: Smith visits some marijuana hub, conducts interviews, tokes up, and moves on. It's a stoner's dream job, but Smith doesn't take us to the heart of anything. The strongest chapters detail a trip to hidden fields in the Sequoia National Park, but even there, Smith remains a tourist. Nevertheless, his is a pleasant guide to understanding the difference between indica and sativa.
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Entertaining and educational. Highly recommended.