Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Super-charged: how outlaws, hippies and scientists reinvented marijuana (Book review)

Fascinating insight into marijuana use

‘Super-charged: how outlaws, hippies and scientists reinvented marijuana’ by Jim Rendon. Pp 256. Price £18.99. Devon: Timber Press; 2012. ISBN 978 1 4027 8585 6

This book offers a fascinating insight into the awkward interface between the illegal recreational use of cannabis and its growing lawful role as an adjuvant in medical conditions such as chronic pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS. The book concentrates on the US, where in 1996 California became the first state to allow the drug’s medicinal use.

Now a third of states have passed laws allowing its use on the recommendation of a physician, but the situation is confusing because the drug remains illegal at federal level and state legislation varies not only between states but also from district to district within each state.  

The author has interviewed a cross-section of people involved in cannabis production. Some are involved only in its illegal supply, but others provide plants for distribution through legal dispensaries. Although there seems to be little formal control over the quality of these supplies, most dispensaries have set their own standards for the plants they purchase.

And because growers try to meet these standards, it seems that the quality of the cannabis that some also supply illegally has improved, too.

The author also contrasts the aims of the underworld cannabis suppliers with the policies of legitimate pharmaceutical companies. Many illegal suppliers strive to boost their business by adding new “supercharged” varieties to the 2,000 cannabis strains already available. In contrast, pharmaceutical companies want their cannabis-based products to display consistency in action. The book illustrates this by examining the UK’s GW Pharmaceuticals, which aims to ensure that its licensed cannabinoid product, Sativex, an oromucosal spray, maintains a standardised action that can benefit multiple sclerosis and cancer patients without producing an unnecessary “high” as a side effect.

Although many of the pioneers who built the unlawful cannabis trade are now involved in its legitimate supply, the book warns that, as the medicinal use of cannabis grows, they may find themselves forced out of business by mainstream pharmaceutical companies eager to cash in on a market potentially worth billions of dollars. This highly readable book provides plenty of food for thought for those involved in healthcare or politics.

Andrew Haynes is former deputy editor at The Pharmaceutical Journal

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11115981

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Pharmaceutical Statistics

    Pharmaceutical Statistics

    This book on basic statistics has been specifically written for pharmacy students.

    £33.00Buy now
  • Patient Care in Community Practice

    Patient Care in Community Practice

    Patient Care in Community Practice is a unique, practical guide for healthcare professionals or carers. Covers a range of non-medicinal products suitable for use at home.

    £22.00Buy now
  • Clinical Pharmacokinetics

    Clinical Pharmacokinetics

    A practical guide to the use of pharmacokinetic principles in clinical practice. Includes case studies with questions and answers.

    £33.00Buy now
  • Strategic Medicines Management

    Strategic Medicines Management

    A practical guide to influencing the availability of medicines, and policies of their use. Focuses on the strategic elements of medicines management.

    £33.00Buy now
  • English Delftware Drug Jars

    English Delftware Drug Jars

    This beautiful book illustrates the art and history of the collection of English delftware drug jars in the Museum of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

    £54.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.