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“The ABCs of CBD” by Shira Adler

" Come on in, they say, and stay as long as you’d like."

March 12, 2024

The first two books on our summer reading list, “The Little Black Book of Marijuana” by Steve Elliott and “A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis” by Nikki Furrer, both extend a friendly hand that welcomes you to the world of cannabis. Come on in, they say, and stay as long as you’d like.

The third book, “The ABCs of CBD” by Shira Adler, is different. It’s less of a gentle invitation and more of an urgent plea. Get over here, it says, you need to hear about this.

Adler both informs and aims to create awareness of the global context and attitudes toward CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. She is able to take on the tougher subjects, like cannabis use for children, by clearly differentiating non-euphoric CBD from high-THC marijuana. She shares her perspective on using CBD as a medicine in a genuine and honest way. She recalls her personal experience as a mother and respects the individual and personal choice to use cannabis for healing.

Alder touches on common subjects, like cannabis legalization history and the endocannabinoid system, and enlarges the influential role of pop culture on society’s perception of cannabis. She presents the world history of cannabis in an easy-to-digest visual timeline and uses clever storytelling techniques to break down the more complicated scientific topics.

Alder’s warm wisdom and down-to-earth humor help lighten some of the more dense subject matter. To describe the way CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, Adler relies on a simple but spot-on bowling pin analogy. Diseases and illnesses can come with a wide variety of coinciding symptoms. Modern western medicine typically follows the idea of prescribing a pill to treat each symptom individually. Adler explains that if each symptom is a bowling pin, opioids only knock out one pin at a time, whereas CBD knocks them all out at once.

The overall format of the book is engaging. Regardless of how deep she dives into a topic, Adler consistently uses short paragraphs, bullet-points and conversational one-liners. If you’re already pretty well-read about cannabis and want to go past the surface-level definitions, Adler offers some in-depth technical science. If you’re new to the world, she lists key points to remember for readers who want to get straight to the good stuff.

Adler hopes to make a difference in people’s lives, and it shows. Care and compassion drive her work. When she digs into the opioid crisis in Chapter 5, she doesn’t hold back the frightening mortality statistics or the profits that drive over-prescription in the U.S. — but it also doesn’t feel like an overly political barrage of anger toward the mistakes of the past. She’s not scolding our society for the past, she’s making us more aware of the truth so we can build a brighter future.

“The ABCs of CBD” is a clear, thoughtful and engaging guide to an often-overwhelming world. Whether you’re a cannabis expert or just starting to explore, Adler’s fresh perspective and presentation style make this an entertaining and informative read for everyone.

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