The Scratch & Sniff Book of Weed is labeled “not just for stoners,” with the caveat that it’s “absolutely for stoners.” Like a children’s book for adults, the cardboard illustrated book takes you through the history, chemistry, varieties, effects, and cultural impact of cannabis, with of course a splattering of options for you to literally scratch and sniff the scents of different strains (mostly the fruity ones), munchies (think popcorn and nilla wafers), and obscurities like sex (musk) and beer (hops).
Co-authored by Seth Matlins and Eve Epstein, and illustrated by Ann Pickard, the book is described as a “physiological, sexual, historical, botanical, and cultural trip through the world of cannabis.” It’s meant to appeal to both the cannabis naive — curious, casual tokers — and the weed enthusiast, alike.
“We don’t think that there’s anyone who can read the book, no matter how detailed their knowledge of cannabis and cannabis culture, and walk away without learning 20 things they didn’t know before,” Matlins tells Jane Street.
Did you know, for instance, that the first thing ever sold on the internet was a bag of weed? Or that trace amounts of weed can be found in the air in nine Italian cities?
“We think of it as the Hamilton of weed, to entertain and to educate,” says Matlins. “I think what continues to surprise is that this is a natural substance that continues to be criminalized and classified along with heroin.” All despite thousands of years’ history, detailed in the book, which illustrate cannabis’ varied and medicinal uses.
While it looks and reads like a book for kids, Matlins emphasizes that it is for adults. “We think the scratch and sniff thing is a little bit of a novelty,” he says. “The consumption of weed is a multisensory experience, so we wanted to create a multisensory book.”
The scents in the book don’t actually derive from cannabis, but from a large stable of scratch-and-sniff options presented by the publisher, Matlins says. While readers can try to take a whiff of Sour Diesel, OG Kush, and Blueberry Kush, they’ll really just be smelling diesel, lemon, and blueberry respectively—not the actual strains. Matlins says that manufacturing the strain scents would have been more complicated and expensive, and not ultimately very interesting. “We shifted our focus to the neurological, the physiological, and history of weed, and went with scents that were already available to bring out wit and humor,” he says.
“We’re at a moment where cannabis is waiting to be mainstream, and there are a lot of users who are coming out of the closet,” he says. Plus more people are coming to the plant for its medicinal and psychoactive benefits, with little regard anymore for the stigma that once surrounded stoner culture. “I think people are becoming pretty familiar with cannabis all over the world,” Matlins says.
The book officially releases today on 4/20, and will be available at every bookstore and online. Ten percent of the proceeds from the book will go to the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes cannabis and drug policy reform.
“We want to support their work and all work to decriminalize and legalize weed,” says Matlins. “I think a lot of people are being denied its benefits because of laws that have nothing to do with the reality of cannabis, but the reality of broader system issues in our society.”