To some it's the classic "gateway drug", to others it is a harmless way to relax, or provide relief from crippling pain. Some fear it is a dangerous drug with addictive properties; to others still it is a legal anomaly and should be decriminalized. Whatever the viewpoint, and by whatever name it is known, cannabis-or marijuana, hashish, dope, pot, weed, grass, ganja-incites debate at every level, and the effect it has on the cultures and economics of every corner of the globe is undeniable. In this definitive study, Martin Booth crafts a tale of medical advance, religious enlightenment, political subterfuge and human rights; of law enforcement and custom officers, cunning smugglers, street pushers, gang warfare, writers, artists, musicians, and happy-go-lucky hippies and potheads. Booth chronicles the fascinating and often mystifying process through which cannabis, a relatively harmless substance, became outlawed throughout the Western world, and the devastating effect such legislation has on the global economy. Above all, he demonstrates how the case for decriminalization remains one of the twenty-first century's hottest topics.