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Cannabis, Forgetting, and the Botany of Desire


The Botany of Desire: Michael Pollan
Full length documentary. Michael Pollan, a professor of journalism and a student of food, presents the history of four plants, each of which found a way to make itself essential to humans, thus ensuring widespread propagation. Apples, for sweetness; tulips, for beauty; marijuana, for pleasure; and, potatoes, for sustenance.
Each has a story of discovery and adaptation; each has a symbiotic relationship with human civilization. The film tells these stories and examines these relationships.
Full length documentary
Excerpt in HD
Cannabis, Forgetting, and the Botany of Desire
Michael Pollan

So we’re going to talk a little bit about sex in your garden, and drugs, and rock and roll. I want to start by briefly explaining what I mean by the botany of desire, about my approach to plants and their relationship to people, and then get on to marijuana. Those who have the book, Botany of Desire, will recognize some of what I’m saying, at least at the start. But I then want to go a little bit deeper into what we’ve learned and what we’re learning about cannabis and the cannabinoid network and memory since the book has come out. We’re learning things actually almost every day about this very exciting area of brain science.


Cannabis – Web Extra with Michael Pollan

Watch the full episode. See more Botany of Desire.


Contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and the author of The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World, Michael Pollan delivers this Avenali Lecture on the stories of four familiar plant species: the apple, the tulip, the potato, and cannabis.



While tulip breeders may spend long days tending their cultivars, nothing compares to the high-tech, 24-hour intensive care given another plant — cannabis, a.k.a. marijuana. The Botany of Desire explores the history and physiology of this lowly weed that has made itself so desirable that nearly 15 million Americans risk arrest each month by smoking it.

While fruits produce sweetness and flowers produce beauty, some plants produce chemicals that have the power to alter human consciousness. And, like our craving for sweetness or love of beauty, the desire to change consciousness appears to be hardwired into humans. Cannabis has cashed in on that desire and spread from its birthplaces in India and China throughout the world, where passionate — and mostly illegal — gardeners tend to its needs with slavish devotion. Although cannabis is now illegal in most countries, many cultures throughout history have embraced it.

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