Depending on which doctor you speak with, or which websites you read, cannabis could be an appealing, low-risk medicine – even an aid to wellness – or an insidiously addictive drug rotting the brains of our youth. This dissonance confuses young people, distressed patients, and paralyzes politicians, all while inviting dubious sources of information and resulting in uninformed choices, enhanced polarization, and a fragmented national policy.
Seeing Through the Smoke is an unflinching examination at the grossly misunderstood drug that uses data-driven medical science and a critical historical perspective to reveal the truth behind cannabis. In this balanced and measured investigation, Cannabis specialist and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School Dr. Peter Grinspoon untangles the reality behind cannabis, revealing how we ended up with radically divergent understandings of the drug and pointing a way toward a middle ground that we can all share.
Moving through an illuminating tour of the social history and the medical science behind cannabis, Grinspoon unpacks the layers of disinformation left by a sordid history of government propaganda, racial suppression, and indifference from the medical community to answer questions like:
By focusing on the most critical purported harms—driving, pregnancy, addictiveness, memory—and by focusing on the most commonly cited medical benefits—relieving chronic pain, sleep, anxiety, PTSD, autism, and cancer—Seeing Through the Smoke will help patients, parents, doctors, health experts, regulators, and politicians move beyond biased perceptions and arrive at a shared reality towards cannabis.
Peter Grinspoon, M.D. is a primary care physician and cannabis specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is a certified Health and Wellness Coach as well as a board member of the advocacy group Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, and has been providing medical cannabis care for patients for two decades.
Dr. Grinspoon is a widely recognized expert on cannabis science and drug policy. He regularly appears as an expert on national television and radio programs, including NPR’s All Things Considered, NBC Nightly News, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Fox and Friends and Fox News. He is quoted frequently in the national media, in such venues as People, the New York Times, New York Magazine, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe. He is a TEDX speaker.
Grinspoon’s Harvard Health articles have reached tens of millions of readers, have been widely referenced in the national media, and have been cited in congressional testimony. His writing has been published in The Nation, the Los Angeles Times and Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics.
He is the author of the groundbreaking memoir Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, was the expert witness in the successful citizens’ 2019 lawsuit against the Massachusetts “Vape Ban” and a special consultant on addiction issues to Jagged Little Pill’’s pre-Broadway run at the American Repertory Theater.
Seeing through the Smoke is packed with accessible, engaging, and useful information delivered with the heart of a humanitarian and the commonsense of a sensible scientist. Dr. Grinspoon has done us a huge public service. Read his book!" —Carl Hart, Columbia University Professor and author of Drug Use for Grown-ups
“As marijuana goes mainstream, many lingering doubts, contradictions, lies, and half-truths remain entrenched in the public debate. Peter Grinspoon has written a delightfully readable, informative, and timely book that shines a clear light through this maze of misunderstandings. Following in the family tradition - Grinspoon's father Lester wrote two seminal books on marijuana - Seeing Through the Smoke can help heal the scars left by the government’s failed war on cannabis.” – Rick Doblin, PhD, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
“Peter Grinspoon is an ex-addict, marijuana enthusiast, and cannabis prescribing physician with a professional and moral obligation to know and tell the truth about cannabis’ relationship to driving, pregnancy, psychosis, autism, addiction, sleep, cancer, and much more. Never before have I read such an engaging and accessible review of the evidence.” – Ethan Nadelmann, founder and former executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance
“An unflinching and utterly personal journey through the often-confusing cannabis landscape. Readers will delight in the historical as well as the scientific focus brought to life by Grinspoon, whose roots and professional experience provide a unique and fascinating perspective. Seeing through the Smoke has something for everyone – from the novice to the expert and everyone in between with an interest in cannabis.” – Staci Gruber, MD, Director of Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
“When I was a child, I saw my great uncle, a physician, helping my cousin to clean and prepare his medicine – pot– so he could tolerate his chemotherapy treatments. Seeing through the Smoke clearly lays out the case for cannabis as a medicine while thoughtfully and calmly outlining its risks. Not only should everyone read this book, but they should share it with their loved ones, too.” – Julie Holland, MD, author of Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, From Soul to Psychedelics
“Peter Grinspoon is uniquely qualified to dispense verifiable knowledge about cannabis use and misuse as both prescriber of therapeutic cannabis to qualified medical patients and a councilor to cannabis misusers. Steeped in a deep pharmacological understanding of cannabis and aided by up-to-date analysis of scientific cannabis-related studies, Seeing through the Smoke amplifies a voice trusted by both sides of the ongoing debate about functional and responsible cannabis policies post-prohibition.” -Allen St. Pierre, former Executive Director of NORML
“Seeing Through the Smoke provides refreshing insights into the biases that have challenged cannabis research to date. Grinspoon presents both sides of the divisive issues polarizing society today, allowing the reader to reconsider what is and isn’t true about cannabis. Honest, personal, poignant, comprehensive, and totally current, this book emphatically reminds us that the absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence of effectiveness for this extremely therapeutic botanical.”– Donald I. Abrams, MD, professor emeritus of medicine, University of California San Francisco
“In this lively, witty, and deeply personal book, Grinspoon takes readers on a fascinating tour of everything you ever wanted to know about the benefits of cannabis—especially what it can do to ameliorate suffering and enhance human potential—while always remaining grounded in the scientific evidence. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” – Jay Wexler, professor of law specializing in marijuana law, Boston University
“Dr. Peter Grinspoon breaks down the myths and misconceptions surrounding cannabis as only a true expert can. Drawing on his years of experience as a clinician and instructor, Dr. Grinspoon offers an informed and compassionate look at the science and medicine. With a wealth of evidence-based information, he provides an honest and authoritative guide to understanding the plant and its uses, making this book essential reading for anyone interested in the most up-to-date and reliable information about cannabis.” —Shaleen Title, Founder and Director, Parabola Center for Law and Policy