In the past, amateur and inexperienced cannabis growers alike have relied on classic marijuana grow books, such as the Cannabis Grow Bible and the Marijuana Grower's Handbook. Countless growers have used these texts to improve their growing techniques, and learn about marijuana horticulture. The pioneering books were authored by outlaw growers, who often used pseudonyms, because marijuana cultivation carried stiff penalties. Today, you can usually buy their updated editions, which include new cannabis information and emerging science.
Do People Still Buy Marijuana Grow Books?
In the era of YouTube and Google, you might wonder if you actually need to buy any marijuana grow books. If you're already growing, for example, and you need to troubleshoot a problem in your garden, the internet may be a better resource. There is a wealth of articles and videos you can check out for free, pertaining to almost any cannabis grow problem you can imagine. Today, there are even some grow consultants who will use FaceTime to check out your grow problem in real time and offer solutions over the phone. Depending on the scale (and legality) of your grow operation, you may have little need for cultivation how-to manuals – except maybe as coffee table decor.
But if you're new to growing, or you're considering setting up a grow and don't know where to start, marijuana grow books are a perfect solution. (They can come in particularly handy for setting up an indoor grow.) And they're clearly still popular. As more states allow legal home cannabis cultivation, these books may be even more in demand than ever.
Even major publishers like Penguin Random House are jumping on the bandwagon. In 2017, they published "Idiot's Guide: Growing Marijuana," which adheres to an easy-to-follow, segmented "Idiot's Guide" format.
But if you're going to dabble in the great literary genre of marijuana grow books, why not start with the classics?
Ed Rosenthal’s Marijuana Growers Guide
The seminal "Marijuana Growers Guide" was first published in 1978, by an alternative publisher based in San Fransisco. It was written by Ed Rosenthal and Mel Frank. Rosenthal is a well-known cannabis activist, who has been arrested and convicted multiple times on cultivation charges.
Rosenthal is also known for writing an advice column in High Times Magazine. ("Ask Ed: Your Marijuana Questions Answered" has provided cultivation advice for home growers). He later started his own publishing company, specifically for cannabis-related books.
It's largely thanks to pioneering advocates like Rosenthal – who were arrested for their actions – that we have any marijuana industry at all. Today, you can put a few dollars in his pocket by buying the current edition (the "Marijuana Growers Guide Deluxe Edition.")
Rosenthal is passionate about his plants. "Marijuana may not be addictive," he jokes, "but growing it is." In his book, you'll learn about plant biology in general, including the process of photosynthesis.
You can buy Rosenthal's 2010 version, "Marijuana Grower’s Handbook: Your Complete Guide for Medical and Personal Marijuana Cultivation" on Amazon. But why not support your local independent bookstore? They may carry this popular book.
If you do use Amazon, you can get the paperback for $24, or get it on your Kindle for around $11.
The Cannabis Grow Bible
The Cannabis Grow Bible is another beloved classic. It's a little more expensive, coming in at around $37 for the updated second edition. (However, you can usually find used copies on Amazon for closer to $25. And if it's going to get dirty in your garden anyway, why not buy a used copy?)
This is considered the go-to text for many growers. Later chapters include information on breeding your own strains, a more advanced horticultural practice that's normally left to experienced growers.
Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible
Another of the most popular marijuana grow books is "Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's Bible" by Jorge Cervantes. This book was originally published in 1983, but it has been updated with greenhouse and outdoor growing advice. (When the industry was entirely underground, it probably made more sense to focus exclusively on indoor grow operations.)
Since its publication, Cervantes' book has sold over half a million copies. It's been translated into five different languages. You can buy the English version for about $23 on Amazon.
If you're shopping around the cannabis book section, why limit yourself to marijuana grow books?
Cannabis horticulture is fascinating, but so is the social and economic history of this plant.
The Emperor Wears No Clothes
One classic book is "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," which was written by legendary cannabis activist Jack Herer (after whom the familiar sativa strain is named). This factually accurate book tells the social history of cannabis. It was originally published in 1985, but the twelfth edition was published in 2010. Practically every cannabis activist ever has read this book.
Today, publishers are getting hip to the fact that people like reading about cannabis. A plethora of new cannabis titles are hitting the shelves – so much that bloggers are even posting lists of the best CBD books.
The Botany of Desire
If you're looking for an honest, engaging, and scientifically-accurate book about how we humans interact with this plant, I recommend Michael Pollan's "The Botany of Desire." It's actually a book about how we interact with four different plants, so only one quarter of the book is about growing and consuming marijuana. (But it's so good, and so funny, you'll probably end up reading the chapters about tulip and potato cultivation, too.)
If reading marijuana grow books and mastering the art of growing sounds like too much for you right now, you can always head to a medical dispensary, or stop by a recreational dispensary if you’re a rec consumer. If you are ready to take on this new hobby — happy reading!