Book Reviews

Sandra Hinchliffe’s, The Cannabis Spa at Home: How to Make Marijuana-Infused Lotions, Massage Oils, Ointments, Bath Salts, Spa Nosh, and More

Novice Rating: ★★★ (5 stars) - If you are new to making home remedies, this is the book for you.  The Quick Start Guide can get you going immediately and the author guides you expertly through learning how to do the high end stuff.

Veteran Rating: ★★★☆ (3 1/2 stars) - If you happen to be an artisanal home soap and spa pro already, this book will give you specific insights into using cannabis in your own recipes.


This is the second book from this author, under her original pen-name, S. Hempista.  Check out that book too.

Just released (10/7/2015), a very updated and improved version of her previous book.  It has been upgraded from a simple self-published book to a tidy 7.5” x 7.5” hardcover book with copious amounts of photography.

The book is designed to be inclusive and has a “Quick Start Guide” in the front for those that want (or need) to dive in right away.

The book then ramps you up into some very high end artisanal recipes gently and easily.  The development from questions through her hempista.com website really come through.

This page will update as recipes from this book are tested out fully with a guinea pig.  The recipes are so similar to her previous book, I want to get fresh eyes on this new book and have them try making the recipes without previous experience.

If you are looking for a good cannabis lotions and ointments book, head over to Amazon and place an order.

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Mediman’s Marijuana Made Simple

Novice Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars) - One of the best books for a novice that is unsure and does not have a mentor to guide them.

Veteran Rating: ★☆ (1 1/2 stars) - Except for good advice for teaching a novice, this book is not very useful for a veteran grower.


This is one book that has been very hard to locate and buy at a reasonable price.  If you dig deep, you can still find this book on the shelf at retail price of $18.  Good luck with that since most book sellers know the worth of this book and have priced it accordingly.  You can usually only find this book for between $100 to over $500.  Good alternatives would be “Cannabis Cultivator: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Marijuana” by Jeff Ditchfield or “Easy Marijuana Gardening” by Ed Rosenthal.

While you can extrapolate most of these steps from the other books, this also has a very well detailed section on how to build and prepare the grow room.  Parts and components easily available from suppliers like HydroFarm.

Click on this link to do an ISBN search for this book at independent book sellers at AbeBooks.com.

Click on this link to do an ISBN serach for this book at independent book sellers at Alibris.com.

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Jorge Cervantes’, The Cannabis Encyclopedia

Novice Rating: ★★★ (3 stars) - Like all of the new books coming out now, they are more than just cannabis cultivation.  This is the same here, but the title of “Encyclopedia” is accurate.  It is great info but not presented in a way for a novice grower to get the most out of it.  Recommend Jorge Cervantes’ Marijuana Horticulture, The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible for a novice.

Veteran Rating: ★★★★ (5 stars) - A true “encyclopedia” that dwarfs other recent works. Great solid reference for an experienced grower.  Very detailed with expert contributions.


Jorge Cervantes (George VanPatten) has been providing cannabis cultivation information and about indoor growing from his background in hydroponics.

His two core Marijuana Horticulture, The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible and companion Marijuana Grow Basics books are recommended if you are wanting a “learn how to grow cannabis” book.

The title of Encyclopedia is properly named as this book covers a GREAT span of information.  Jorge Cervantes has incorporated specific sections authored by experts he has met over the years.  Medical and scientific experts provide a level of detail and authority that could not come from a single voice.

With that said, the abrupt tone of voice and writing styles break up the flow of this book, isolating it more as the über reference that it is intended to be.  This is one reason I recommend Jorge’s other books dedicated specifically to cannabis cultivation if you are learning.  The single voice and step-by-step instructions are harder to pick out in this book because of all the other information.

But WHAT A REFERENCE THIS IS!!!

Besides the normal cannabis cultivation information, Jorge Cervantes has always done Case Studies, illustrating and documenting the growing process in detail, even in his earlier books.  He has realized that this was something unique and expanded on it in this new big book.  Several case studies are provided for a variety of situations.

The other very useful bits of information are the EXTENSIVE use of charts and diagrams.  Example: He does a direct comparison of lighting types and even compares output of various bulbs/tubes.  This type of detail is necessary for planning power consumption and finding the best output of that energy to be best used by the plants.

Like all books of this type, the sections are very detailed (but look for the excellent charts).  The sections of this book you cannot find in other places include a very detailed rundown of nutrients and again, amazing comparisons.  The section on “Additives” (hormones, bacteria, fungi, enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates/sugars, vitamins, etc.) is something that you cannot find in other books.

If there is a single book that covers ALL of the bases and has the LATEST information, this is the book for you.  Even experienced growers will want to have this book.

If you want to order this book too, you can do so from Amazon.  You can also get this book from independent book sellers at AbeBooks.com.

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Cheri Sicard’s: The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook

This book is on loan to a fellow cannabis expert that also is a foodie, so a full review can be made.  Coming SOON!!!

AbeBooks.com link

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Jessica Catalano's: Ganja Kitchen Revolution, The Bible of Cannabis Cuisine

This book is on loan to a fellow cannabis expert that also is a foodie, so a full review can be made.  Coming SOON!!!

AbeBooks.com link

Not Yet Reviewed:

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Jeff Ditchfield and Mel Thomas’s, The Medical Cannabis Guidebook: The Definitive Guide To Using and Growing Medicinal Marijuana

Novice Rating: ★★★☆ (4 1/2 stars) - As one of the first books on the scene specifically addressing the medical use and application of marijuana, it will be a wonderful primer for other books.

Veteran Rating: ★★★★ (4 stars) - While much of the details in the book may be information you already know, having the easy-to-find and cross-reference index and technical details will make this book one of your go-to books.


If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it; he is obligated to do so

— Thomas Jefferson

Being a staunch Jeffersonian, I find it interesting that a pair of UK authors are quoting an American Revolutionary.

Such ideals of personal liberty balanced with social responsibility are foundations of marijuana legalization from the beginning.  It is a travesty that it was and continues to be the country Jefferson helped found that has done the most damage to liberties in relation to the free use of Cannabis (as hemp or marijuana/sinsemilla).

The first three chapters of the book contain your usual context of history and usage of marijuana.  Chapter four is where you get into the new and interesting content not outlined in all the other cannabis books out there.

Chapter Four: Cannabis Cures, is something new and lists conditions that medical marijuana can help or treat.

Chapter Five: Making Cannabis Oil, is also something new.  Because Green Candy Press seems to be a more international company and much of the practices for making Cannabis Oil extracts are determined by what types of materials are available to you, this book talks about using Isopropyl and other solvents that are considered “unsafe”.  Based on the science and the care taken for oil extractions, many solvents can be used if purged properly.  This book gives you the boiling point for the types of solvent used around the world for this process.

I have found a friend that has used isopropyl 99.9% medical grade alcohol for making extractions and he has used 100 watt light bulbs to help evaporate the solvent.  Based on the cheap and available medical grade isopropyl alcohol, it would be one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make extractions, and still be safe if proper precautions are taken.

Chapter Six: Hemp Nutrition and Health, provides the health benefits of hemp seeds as a food source and dietary supplement.  Much of this is on the internet and any good researcher is going to be able to gain this same information, but having it compiled in an easily digestible form is a great way to ramp up your knowledge from a reliable source if this is a new area of cannabis knowledge for you.

Chapter Seven: Cannabis Kitchen, provides an excellent primer for extracting your own cannabis terpenes for edibles/ingestion.  Some basic recipes for infusing into baking and cooking staples are all here, but if you need actual full blown recipes, take a look at the other cannabis cookbook reviews on this site.

Chapter Eight: Medicinal Cannabis Growing are some of the basics for understanding the botany of cannabis and how to create medical grade sinsemilla, but one chapter when there are entire books dedicated to the details of such does not give you enough to be successful with this book alone.  It is an excellent primer for jumping off into any of the other books specific to cannabis botany and marijuana cultivation reviewed on this site (including books by both authors of this book).

All in all, all of the latest Green Candy Press releases have been hitting a particular sweet spot for me in their ability to provide excellent technical detail in an easily digestible format with great photography and step-by-step graphical instructions.  The collaboration of Jeff Ditchfield and Mel Thomas on this book is a perfect example of this melding.

One other distinction this book will have is the fact that it has lack of advertising and product placement, as portrayed by other books similarly published by Quick American Publishing.

If you want to order this book too, you can do so from Amazon.  You can also get this book from independent book sellers at AbeBooks.com.

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Mel Thomas’ Cannabis Cultivation: A Complete Grower's Guide

Novice Rating: ★ (1 star) - When I first picked up the 2nd edition, I was overwhelmed and didn’t have enough background to make use of it.  The 3rd edition is more of the same.

Veteran Rating: ★★★ (4 stars) - Great updated information and a good solid reference for an experienced grower.  Very detailed.  Those details overwhelm new growers, but those details are what veterans need to clarify steps and processes.


I’ve read and owned the previous editions but read them very early on (he was a favorite of my mentor’s) before gathering up all of these other references

My opinion of the book was that it was too technical and I was too much of a novice at the time to understand it all.  Mel Thomas has always been a name in the industry, and this third edition review gives me an opportunity to re-read it with new eyes.

Man, am I glad I did!  Now that I have had a lot more experience and have read so many Cannabis/Marijuana books, I can see how chalk full of information this book really is, particularly in the 3rd Edition with full color photographs.  (As a former book reseller/collector and technical trainer, the additional color photos and more of them, improves the book greatly.)

While it covers all the bases that other books do, here are some highlights in this book that make this different from the rest here on the site.

Page 166 provides a section for “Grit Weed”.  These are adulterants that are added to cannabis by the black market to increase the weight of the harvested/dried/cured bud.

Page 201 talks about Gibberellic Acid to produce produce male flowers on female plants, an advanced method for breeding.  More ideal for passing along or stabalizing genetic traits for breeding and seed production.

Expanding beyond simple horticulture, Mel Thomas talks about medicinal uses of cannabis including a list of ailments and how cannabis affects or treats that ailment, something missing from most grow books.  Mel also has a large questions and answer section useful to clarify specific points over the last two editions.

Overall, very complete and deserves a spot in your library.

Also see Mel Thomas’ co-authoring of Jeff Ditchfield and Mel Thomas’s, The Medical Cannabis Guidebook: The Definitive Guide To Using and Growing Medicinal Marijuana

Click on this link to do an ISBN search for this book at independent book sellers at AbeBooks.com.

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Michael Backes, Cannabis Pharmacy

Novice Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars) - If you are thinking about exploring Medical Cannabis/Marijuana, this is the best primer available.

Veteran Rating: ★★★ (3 stars) - Veterans of the MMJ world will know most of the information here, but the clear references will be very useful.


I have been seeing this book reviewed and attached to many of the other books I’ve read.

Michael Backes is referenced by Jeff Ditchfield and Mel Thomas in their latest book.

After reading Cannabis Pharmacy, I have some trepidation in writing a review.  While the other books I have reviewed are about cannabis botany and cultivation, this is specifically a review on a book recommending strains and treatments for a wide range of ailments.  I am NOT a doctor nor licensed medical professional and cannot diagnose these medical issues.  However, my close interactions with underground medical marijuana users allows me to confirm the recommendations of strains for the correlating issue/ailment as effective for eleviation or cure.

Being a 2014 release, this has some of the most up-to-date information about the medicinal applications of cannabis, in spite of the fact that even more information has been released since the final edit of this book.

The book is not cut up into a bunch of chapters, but four loosely defined “Parts”.

In Part 1, you get a conglomeration of cannabis history and biology, but quickly switches up into how cannabinoids work in the body and how they even interact with some prescribed and over-the-counter medications.  A good explanation of terpenes and how they augment the affects of the cannabis in the body is here too.  Possibly the best book dealing with the “adverse effects” of short-term and long-term use, along with a good few paragraphs about “over-medication” or that bad trip.

Part 2 is interesting in its own right.  It is titled, “Using Medical Cannabis”, and goes through all the basics that a newbie would have to figure out on their own.  Short of having an experienced user to guide you, this is practically the next best thing.  Good few pages on contaminants, pesticides, and other adulterants, particularly useful for underground users depending on an unregulated black market for their medicine.

“Varieties of Medical Cannabis”, Part 3 is a complete section on common strains and what they are used for.  If I have a complaint, it is with this section.  Many of the strains mentioned are all old standbys.  With all the creative crosses and private grows, you find many non-name and designer strains being used in the medical cannabis community.  More information about how family/strain genetics inter-relate, crossed with the terpene section, would have been best to allow a nuanced understanding of how that is linked.  You are left to extrapolate everything on your own.

Part 4 is where the major component and value of this book comes in, with the “Medical Uses of Cannabis”.  This is a fairly comprehensive list of varioius ailments and medical conditions that are treated with medicinal cannabis and the corresponding strains good for those specific conditions.  This covers many of the new hot-button studies recently covering anxiety, Alzheimer’s, autism, fibromyalgia, Hep C, MS, Parkinson’s, and PTSD.

If you have a family member that is looking for good science based information on using cannabis medicinally, this is a fantastic primer.

Most of the information is out there on the internet, but you have to put the pieces together.  This is all packaged for you in an easy to read, casual format.

Click on this link to do an ISBN search for this book at independent book sellers at AbeBooks.com.

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Ed Rosenthal’s Beyond Buds: Marijuana Extracts—Hash, Vaping, Dabbing, Edibles and Medicines

Novice Rating: ★★★☆ (3 1/2 stars) - Some of the extraction techniques are quite advanced and potentially dangerous, but the details in the “safe” methods have never been so clearly detailed before.  If you want to take that big crop and process and preserve it, this is another staple from Ed for your bookshelf.

Veteran Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 1/2 stars) - This is amazing confirmation for many of the methods we have been using for several years.  You may not need to know how to make cannabutter, but the advanced information for BHO and CO2 extractions from an authority deserves serious consideration.


NOTE: I have used cannabis/marijuana in its many forms including all the methods mentioned in this book.  I have done every one of these processes and have spent money looking for the “new” thing and have owned many of the Vape and other products mentioned in this book.  That is separate from the review and you can see my personal musings on the blog. Ed’s product placement is not new.

As you may already know, I used to be a book dealer, so not only do I love the topic of cannabis and marijuana, I have a love of books.  I carry them around with me and reference them often.  The construction, printing, and editing of the physical book makes a difference on whether it is worth spending the money on it, regardless of the information inside.  I can say that the cover is sturdy for a softcover, and a little 91% Iso will take that sticky shatter from your dabbing tool right off the back cover.

I’m not going to do a review of the entirety of the book as others outline the sections, but as a connoisseur of cannabis, I want to go deeper and make specific call-outs.

Some of the best golden nuggets of information in this book comes directly out of Chapter 1: Breaking Bud, Selecting and Collecting Material.  I know many people that just take ALL the trash and take extractions.  I have always been of the mindset that you get out what you put in (still enjoying that “top” of the crop Blue Dream.  Thanks “Wreck” for processing it for me).  This section does a good job to help you get the most of your extractions by "pre-sorting your trash for recycling”.  

Several chapters go through the various processes of home extraction.  In no other place have I seen these techniques so well documented and detailed.

Chapter 5 talks about Vaping.  The only major criticism I have is about this chapter.  I feel that the portable e-Pens, usually burning gycol or concentrate dirctly on a heating filament, and the orignal type of “vaping” where the green bud is heated in an oven or other heating vessel so it does not combust at all, should have been separate subjects.

Chapter 7 gets down into the nitty-gritty of Butane extracts.  This is a section that has explosive consequences and Colorado is attempting to outlaw the practice outside of a licensed business.  Use extreme caution.

Chapter 8 gets into the present leading edge of CO2 extracts.  Much safer, but still safety precautions to keep in mind.

Chapters 9 and 10 get into new material for most people, but for those of us using marijuana medicinally have had to take their medicine on the sly.  Tinctures and Capsules are a good way to do this.  (Not mentioned in this book is the use of Alcohol Tinctures to enhance or create Cannabis infused alcoholic beverages.  See the Cookbook links in the next paragraph.)

Chapter 11 covers Edibles.  This is not new territory for most, but the real gem here is the walk through of the THC and how it breaks down or is converted with heat during cooking and processing.  For more information about cooking with Marijuana, I would recommend two cookbooks.  Sandy Moriarty’s, Aunt Sandy’s Medical Marijuana Cookbook and S.T. Oner’s The Marijuana Chef Cookbook are reviewed here on this site.

Chapter 12 is also new to most people.  Topical/external use of Cannabis.  As a medicinal user, this has been some of the more interesting uses for pain relief.

One of the MAJOR gold mines of information is hiding in Appendix 1, detailing the various terpenes.  I found it expanded beyond what Ed’s prior books have done, including his Grower’s Handbook.

All in all, this is a vital book for your library if you are growing your own marijuana and need to find ways to use it or convert it for its many uses.

Purchase at Amazon or at Quick American Publishing.  

Click on this link to do an ISBN search for this book at independent book sellers at AbeBooks.com.

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Jeff Ditchfield’s Cannabis Cultivator, A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Marijuana

Novice Rating: ★★★☆ (4 1/2 stars) - A good first book for those novice users with no mentor or teacher to lean on.  The book assumes you have access to materials.

Veteran Rating: ★ (1 star) - If you already know what you are doing, this book is only good if you need material to mentor a novice.


While the other two basic how-to books presented thus far are mainly for stealth and ducking law enforcement surveillance, this book fairly well assumes that you can get all of the suggested items easily (and you can from HydroFarm or your local hydroponics shop).  Not a lot of guerilla gardening in this book.

With that said, it has some of the BEST photos of taking and trimming clones from a mother plant.  Short of having someone show you how it is done, this is the next best thing.

Also of note are instructions for ice water hash collection and a small section with cannabis recipes and medicated cannabis cream for topical dermal use.

A much less expensive alternative to Mediman’s Marijuana Made Simple and more up-to-date than Ed Rosenthal’s Easy Marijuana Gardening.  Presently available for under $10.

Jeff has a new book, Jeff Ditchfield and Mel Thomas’s, The Medical Cannabis Guidebook: The Definitive Guide To Using and Growing Medicinal Marijuana.  Check out that review.

Click on this link to do an ISBN search for this book at independent book sellers at Abebooks.com.  NOTE: The cover advertised with all the book sellers is different than the actual cover.  All books reviewed here are part of my personal collection and pictures below are direct scans of personally owned and read books.

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© mmj-refugee 2015