05/04/2015 04:09 pm ET Updated May 02, 2016

Everything You Wanted to Know About Weed and More

The Cannabis Encyclopedia. By Jorge Cervantes; Van Patten Publishing; $50; 596 pages.

Not that long ago, books and pamphlets about cannabis -- how to grow it and harvest it -- were printed, distributed and read clandestinely. After all, it was illegal to grow it and harvest it, as well as smoke it, possess it and distribute it. It's still illegal according to the feds, though twenty-three states and the District of Columbia now have laws that legalize marijuana in some shape or form. That leaves some twenty-seven states in the U.S. where it's still illegal and where American citizens go to jail for a long time for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

George Van Patten, better known to the world by his pseudonym, Jorge Cervantes, has done more than any other single individual the world over to encourage human beings to ignore federal laws about marijuana that have been in effect since 1937 and the "Reefer Madness" craze. Cervantes has studied every aspect of the marijuana plant. He includes his findings in a new book that no one will read cover to cover, but that everyone who cares about marijuana will turn to, consult and rely on. What the Physicians Desk Reference book does for physicians, his new volume does for marijuana growers.

More than two pounds and nearly 600 pages with thousands of color photos, Cervantes's The Cannabis Encyclopedia is the crowning achievement of a lifetime devoted to the dissemination of information about the cultivation and the consumption of medical marijuana. "Fortunately we live in the 21st century and draconian laws about marijuana are disappearing," the author writes. "We will all be gardening in peace soon."

Based on decades of research, with contributions by dozens of experts from around the world including Mel Frank, Keith Stroup, Steve Bloom and many more, The Cannabis Encyclopedia contains all of the latest facts and figures about cannabanoids -- one of the key psychoactive ingredients in the plant -- cloning and concentrates, plus the history and the legend of the plant itself. In chapter one, "Medical Cannabis," activist Fred Gardner and Dr. John McPartland write that the "prohibition of cannabis has provided an effective method of social control -- a mechanism for funding and arming the police and a marker for disobedience among the citizens."

The table of contents, with titles such as "Vegetative Growth" and "Flowering," provides a clear map of the road ahead. The index offers a useful key to major and minor topics including soils, stress, snails, smoke detectors and seeds. On pages 582 and 583, Cervantes lists the names of more than one hundred different varieties of marijuana, from "Amnesia Haze" and "Headband" to "LA Confidential" and "Super Stinky - all of which suggest the ingenuity of marijuana marketers.

Near the end of the book there are easy-to-follow recipes about how to make cannabis butter, cannabis coconut oil and cannabis wine. "Many cannabis wines and spirit drinks are available in Austria, Germany, Holland and Switzerland," Cervantes writes. They're on their way to California wine country right this moment. Written in a clear, simple style, The Cannabis Encyclopedia is a handy guidebook for anyone and everyone in the industry, from Maine to Spain and Morocco to Mexico. Even if you already own a book about the cultivation and the consumption of marijuana, Cervantes's contemporary classic is well worth having at bedside, in a greenhouse or the great outdoors.

In a foreword, Vicente Fox, the president of Mexico from 2000-2006 writes, "there is no turning back. The legalization of cannabis -- the freedom to choose -- is inevitable." Would that our very own president, who has admitted that he got high as a teenager, had the gumption to say what Vicente Fox has said.