Book Reviews

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


Jeff Mowta’s Marijuana New School Outdoor Cultivation

Review is pending following a new re-read of the content.

If you are looking for the companion “indoor” book, check out the Marijuana New School Indoor Cultivation book.

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


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


© mmj-refugee 2015