The State of Cannabis-Growing Literature


Ranter James Rousch recently lamented that Garden Literature is going Up in Smoke, based on his count of 87 pot-growing books currently on offer at the local Barnes and Noble.  I recently read one of them myself (to review, I swear!) – the excellent Supercharged from Timber Press, which quotes writer Tom Alexander on the subject.  I’d met Tom at a GWA symposium and found his vitae pretty darn interesting – especially his 10 years as editor of the pot-growing magazine Sinsemilla Tips.

So I asked Tom about the state pot-growing literature and here’s his report:

The state of Cannabis journalism is healthy. More books than ever and even though there is so much free info on the web, authors are still selling a lot of books. I know most of the old time authors (Ed Rosenthal Jorge Cervantes,   Rob Clarke, and Murphy Stevens) and they all have sold between 500,000 and 1 million copies each of their numerous books. People don’t realize how Cannabis has proliferated into mainstream worldwide. If the money from domestic Cannabis wasn’t flowing through the coffers of America we would be in a depression, not a recession. Back in 1985, the University of Oregon graduate business school did a study on just Oregon’s pot industry and estimated it was worth $1 billion back then – Oregon only, 27 years ago – and it hasn’t gotten smaller, only bigger nationwide in every state of the Union.

Tom also sent me the photo above of “five legends in MJ cultivation publishing.  They’re gathered at Homestead Book Co.’s 40th anniversary party last month. Homestead distributed everyone’s books…and made a lot of money doing it. From left they’re Murphy Stevens, author of several books, Ed Rosenthal, author and publisher of many books, David Tatelman, publisher and distributor (Homestead Book Co.), Tom Alexander, author and publisher of Sinsemilla Tips, and Jorge Cervantes, author and publisher of many books. Everybody wrote and published starting in the late 70s or early 80s.  Rosenthal and Cervantes are best sellers and considered gurus by many.

This was getting good.  I asked for more details.

I’ve been interviewed in the past few years as an expert from my days of publishing Sinsemilla Tips – sort of one of the grandfather’s of the Cannabis movement. During my ten years of publishing ST, I was a guest on Donahue, Nightline, Geraldo, Today, CBS Morning News and hundreds of radio shows and newspaper columns.

Before I published Sinsemilla Tips I did grow quite a bit of cannabis in the mid to late 70s and got arrested in 1979 with 2,124 plants in Oregon. Charges were dropped due to a faulty search warrant and then the police were arrested themselves for stealing the no longer needed evidence.

What a hoot!  I still wanted more, so I called and in our chat Tom had lots of stories about ABA conventions back in the day, when these MJ cultivation legends were famous for their after-hours parties.  Somehow, rock musician/authors always found them.
Tom recently relocated from Oregon to Sacramento to join his fiance there and has this report:

I like it here because you can grow citrus and avocados with only an occasional light frost some years. I went from 4.5 acres to ¾ of an acre. I have been landscaping the backyard pool area which had no plants, just cement everywhere. It is looking a lot better!

I immediately got my medical marijuana card when I moved here (love going to the dispensaries and getting edible goodies and creams that help with aches and pains) and grew cannabis in the landscape. I am thinking about doing a book on that subject because when it is legal it will be a landscape plant. It comes in different colors, purples, blue hues, reds, light lime greens and different sizes…it is a lot like cleome (which Proven Winners had at GWA in Tucson, a very nice new Cleome that was compact with smaller size flowers.)

Read more about Tom here or here.  You can still buy Best of Sensemilla Tips.


  1. Really nice article, i am glad you did not shy away from a topic a lot of blogs would not cover. Thanks!

  2. I’ve known Tom for many years and he never fails to tell a good story. What you probably don’t know about him is that he is a terrific cook… have him make you his barbecued mango chicken.

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  3. I’m liking the idea of cannabis as a medicinal landscape plant in multiple colors and I hope this idiotic war on drugs ends in my lifetime.

    I was also a bit concerned about all the cleome growing beside my little cabin, the multiple piles of horse dung I have collected, the newly cleared forest – I gave away my dead hemlocks – and the helicopters buzzing directly over head for two straight days. Yes they found some pakalolo growing very close by on my mountain.

  4. It’s hard not to imagine the salivating of the keepers of the government revenue coffers as they contemplate the out of reach sales tax bucks that would be generated by legalized pot. So close yet so far. It would not surprise me at all if the Mexican drug cartels were financing lobbying efforts to keep marijuana illegal. What a blow (so to speak) to their business plan that would be.

  5. I’m puzzled by complaints that books about growing cannabis are crowding out other books on gardening. It is not as if people unsuccessfully searching for a book on growing cannabis would buy something by Gertrude Jekyll as a substitute. Or perhaps growing cannabis would stimulate a greater interest in gardening and they’d buy the Jekyll book as well.

  6. ” . . . when it is legal it will be a landscape plant.” Love him and love your post! I, too, can’t wait ’till it’s legal so I can plant it with poppies, wormwood, and hops in a theme garden.

  7. It is so refreshing to see such articles in the Garden Rant. Prohibition has excluded cannabis from most modern garden books, maybe this is why readers are so hungry for accurate information about this ancient plant.

    When I went to Cuba the first time, I picked up a dictionary that was published in the USA. My mistake! It omitted ALL Cuban usage of words and vocabulary. Cuba, the Jewel of Spain, is visible via Google Earth and other sources even though it is not seen in the dictionary or on weather reports from US media.

    Please update your link for Jorge Cervantes and search for him on youtube. Here is a direct link to his channel, You will find that he no longer is compelled to wear a disguise and hide in the shadows.

    We are gardeners first and foremost. Plants not politics dominate my life, how about yours?

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