Pollan is neither surprised nor offended by this. "I think that's the best chapter in a lot of ways," he says. "It's the one I had the most fun writing."
"People are more interested in marijuana than I would have guessed," Pollan admits. "Right now, there's really only one way of talking about marijuana in the mainstream media, and it's become clear to me that people want to have another kind of conversation." Oddly, the people who are grabbing him after readings and thanking him for talking about marijuana are usually old ladies. He's not sure why, though he speculates that they're curious about something they've never tried or are interested in pot's medicinal uses. But, he says, "They've got that twinkle in their eye like they know what I'm talking about."
Each chapter in Pollan's book pairs a human desire with a specific plant, showing that even though people may believe they've domesticated plant life, plant life has also domesticated us. The apple's trick is sweetness; the tulip seduces us with good looks. The potato has satisfied our need for control. And marijuana? Intoxication.
The Botany of Desire is peppered with hilarious anecdotes, including the incident that prompted the author's retirement from growing weed. When a man delivering logs to Pollan's Connecticut home casually mentioned that he moonlighted as a wood-chopper when he wasn't on duty as the chief of police, Pollan was forced to act like a paranoid freak to keep the guy out of his pungent barn, clearly the most logical place to leave a bunch of logs.
"I've never heard from that guy," Pollan says, laughing. "I think now we could share a laugh over it."