Catherine Hiller has been smoking cannabis every day for fifty years. To many this may sound alarming, but with her newest book, Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir, Hiller has sought to defy the negativity surrounding daily puffing. Hiller, a wife, mother of three and novelist starts her memoir in the present and uses cannabis as guide to remember and record her life. “Weed is the spine of this memoir, as drink is the center of so many others,” she explains.
Hiller’s cannabis-infused life makes for a fun read, but most importantly, offers insight into a lifestyle many others also lead across the country. Readers are taken back to New York City in the 60’s and Woodstock, but most of the memoir seeks to illustrate a normal life. With honesty, she recounts her experiences with motherhood, marriage, friendship and her career. It is apparent Hiller has lived a full and successful life, uninterrupted by monthly visits to her dealer of 35 years and her daily joint… or two.
Although a memoir, Hiller speaks to the many controversies surrounding cannabis use, including health concerns and smoking safety. Hiller doesn’t ignore the illegality of marijuana and, although unaffected by our legal system throughout her smoking life, strongly condemns the amount of cannabis-related arrests and their prejudiced nature. Her advocacy for marijuana legalization goes beyond a recreational desire, even though she avidly encourages smoking a joint after work instead of drinking a cocktail.
Ironically, as a young teen in the 60’s, Hiller’s attitude towards cannabis was greatly influenced by the panic of Reefer Madness. Still, the danger of smoking was alluring, and the year before starting college Hiller smoked Newport cigarettes in preparation for her first time. For Hiller, her first joint in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park commenced her half a century long dependency -- and yes, Hiller uses the word “dependency,” but never “addiction.” In fact, Hiller even chronicles her three-year-long hiatus from cannabis after meeting her second husband, Mark, and stresses that while pregnant and breastfeeding, her smoking came to a halt.
Hiller’s “marijuana memoir” aims to bring awareness to a counterculture lifestyle that she hopes will soon be widely accepted. Alongside her book, Hiller has also begun a online cannabis community where fellow marijuana lovers can share their own stories, such as the first time they smoked or their most memorable high. Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir, is a great pick for the cannabis enthusiast and the marijuana-wary individual— Hiller has crafted a book that entertains and, most importantly, has a purpose.