Book Review: Baked by Mark Haskell Smith

In 1964 Bob Dylan wrote, “Your old road is rapidly aging. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand. For the times they are a-changing.” If you have been waiting 46 years for an indication that mainstream acceptance of marijuana has finally arrived – your wait may be over.

Two year previous to Bob Dylan’s famous lyrics a history of science professor at Berkeley, Thomas Kuhn, coined the term “paradigm shift” to acknowledge that the acceptance of new ways of thinking occur over time and only as those doing things the old way die off. Although this type of ‘paradigm’ change can take as long as a generation to play out, in retrospect it appears to have occurred immediately after some seemingly insignificant event becomes acceptable as the ‘new way of thinking.’

Mark Haskell Smith’s new novel, ‘Baked,’ unfolds a story of ambition, murder and love within a social context which takes the long awaited medical marijuana paradigm shift for granted. Ageless human dynamics between Smith’s characters are played out within a social context only those with their heads in the sand will find fictional. The real medical marijuana culture has been developing little by little since the California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

As Miro’s adventure unfolds the reader is taken down a path though a cannabis culture unfamiliar to even veteran hippies, longtime cannabis growers, street gangs and American presidents who inhale or not. As with Kuhn’s paradigm shifts, those working in the trenches rarely catch the first winds of change.

‘Baked’ journeys through Amsterdam’s Cannabis Cup competition where pot heads from around the world come to judge which of the many strains of cannabis is the world’s best. Miro, Marks protagonist, wins the Cup only to find himself laying in a California street bleeding from a gun shot wound delivered by the same character who ‘made off’ with his prized cannabis strain. Miro begins a quest to find the guy who ripped him off of, not only his life’s work in botany but also, the millions in future sales of a Cannabis Cup winning strain.

Miro’s is a fictional character living in a world in which California’s medicinal marijuana laws are more liberal than Amsterdam’s. Where medicinal marijuana is sold to physician recommended users via store fronts that fiercely compete for customer loyalty. Where marijuana is approached with the likings of a wine connoisseur – and sold as such. This is the new medical marijuana paradigm in which Mark’s fictional character’s come alive. This is our world in which we live today.

Those who read this book as mere fiction will miss the thrill of being among the first to appreciate having an inside look at what many believe will be taken for granted in days to come.