"UNTIL RECENTLY, men have dominated the world of cannabis, from the top master growers to the most vocal activists to the male-centric stoner rap music and stoner buddy comedy movies," writes Cheri Sicard in Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women. I'm right there with her: The cannabis industry is certainly a male-dominated space, and in reading Sicard's book, I hoped to learn more about the organizations out there currently working to make the industry friendlier to growers and budtenders who aren't a bunch of cisgendered white dudes. Unfortunately, here's what she says next: "This is pretty ironic, when you consider the fact that marijuana is itself matriarchal."

Um... matriarchal like it's what we smoke 'round the coven campfire while our powers combine to place a hex on Donald Trump? Except, nope! Here's the example Sicard gives as evidence that women and cannabis mix: "After all, it's only the prized flowers from female marijuana plants that we smoke, vaporize, or turn into concentrates or edibles."

I can't tell if this is a joke or not. If it's not? It is a TERRIBLE ARGUMENT. Weed and ladies belong together because weed plants are also ladies? That seems a little too earth-mother even for me, a person who has voluntarily attended at least one goddess-worshipping campout. Still, I thought I'd give Sicard the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was being cheeky! But what follows is just a pretty run-of-the-mill beginners' guide to becoming a stoner, with glamorous illustrations of a woman from the lady-arms down wearing ~*edgy*~ chunky jewelry as her dark-fingernailed paws roll a joint. We get it! People who know how to roll joints CAN ALSO BE GLAMOROUS! Sorry, Rihanna exists, so I feel like this point has been sufficiently addressed.

ANYWAY. After a basic breakdown of how to ingest pot, Sicard encourages self-medicating with weed for a number of ailments. Few of these are specific to women, but she does hold forth on the power of cannabis to "help women through the stages of reproductive life." "Forgo pain meds and try it the next time you are particularly bothered by painful menstrual cramps," she suggests cheerily. I'm sorry, FORGO PAIN MEDS? WHY IS THIS AN EITHER/OR PROPOSITION? Other moments that had me wondering if a fact-checker had taking even a rudimentary glance through this book: the wackadoodle statement that if your pet eats weed, "it's not the cannabis that is risky," and a lengthy section about medical marijuana for children, which I didn't know was a thing, and I'm even more confused about it now.

While the War on Drugs is a shameful blight on American domestic and foreign policy, and I'm glad to see it dispensed with in favor of legalization and regulation, blithely claiming that cannabis is a cure-all isn't a marked improvement from punitive, demonizing approaches of yore. Both are extreme and un-nuanced framings. Cannabis isn't evil, and it also isn't wholesome-for-all Jesus smoke! More than ever, quality, vetted information on cannabis is important, especially in states like Oregon, where weed's freshly legal status means that many first-time users will be Maureen Dowding their way through a new world of dispensaries and snack foods and THC-CBD ratios. What a time to be alive! Sanctimonious, self-serving books like this one do little to address the gender imbalance in the cannabis industry, and even less to actually educate anyone on how to enjoy getting high.

That's too bad. And it leaves me truly confused as to who this book was written for. It seems geared toward a cannabis-curious but basically teetotaling demographic, which I thought was me. I have never been a regular weed appreciator. I prefer white-wine spritzers and The Good Wife, although a well-timed high-CBD indica strain can be nice once a month when my copper IUD makes its presence known—HOW'S THAT FOR WEED AND LADIES? Most of the informational tidbits imparted in Mary Jane were things I gleaned secondhand from more worldly friends during my sophomore year of college, when we'd crowd into a dorm room at our beloved women's college and I'd drink a gin and tonic slowly out of a teacup while my friends affixed a plastic bag over the smoke detector. They'd offer me a hit, and I would politely decline. THAT IS HOW INTO SMOKING POT I WAS. And still, Baby Megan apparently knew more about weed then than this "handbook."

Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women
by Cheri Sicard
(Seal Press)