Offbeat Marijuana/Highlights

These two books are very similar. Both provide a reader-friendly overview of cannabis and cannabis culture, and both carry a $19.95 cover price. Each relies heavily on art, illustrations and photos to tell their story, and while both touch on the plant’s ancient origins, they focus mostly on the intertwined history of cannabis and the USA.
Both books make lavish use of art and historical photos, but Offbeat is printed on two-colour black and green, and as a result most of the images have been poorly reproduced, with many of them being very dark and difficult to make out. In contrast, Highlights is full of crisp, colourful art, photos, and other eye-catching imagery. Many of the same photos appear in both books, and the difference in quality is unmistakeable.

Although Offbeat has more editorial content and greater coverage of many topics which Highlights skims over, Highlights is ultimately the more attractive and readable book, as it draws in the reader with many stimulating visuals, along with a catchy and clearly written text. The perfect book would have combined the in-depth coverage of Offbeat with Highlights’ images and print quality, but of the two Highlights is more saleable, and lends itself more easily to being opened randomly to an eye-grabber photo or factoid.

Highlights covers the topic with a focus on popular culture, sometimes even missing out on integral aspects of pot culture because of this. For example, Highlights makes no mention of the classic “hemp bible,” The Emperor Wears no Clothes by Jack Herer. Offbeat, however, not only covers Herer, but even covers the recent triumphs and tribulations of hemp stores like Hemp BC in Vancouver and 2000BC in Los Angeles.

Cannabis Culture readers will recognize Highlights’ budshot section as coming entirely from the Marc Emery seed catalog, with Barge’s fabulous photos making up the bulk of their live-plant shots.

Both books would serve as excellent gifts for the pot connoisseur and cannabis-curious alike.

By Carol Sherman and Andrew Smith
Ten Speed Press
$19.95us, 160 pages

Offbeat Marijuana
By Saul Rubin
Santa Monica Press
$19.95us, 238 pages