Librarian Defends Book on Pot Growing

Betsy Bernfield, Director of the Teton County (CO) Library, is defending the availability of "The Marijuana Grower's Handbook," saying that it was selected in adherence with the library's selection policy. As reported in this story, a local resident complained about the book, demanding a explanation for its selection. The book was reviewed and retained, with Bernfield saying it was the library's job to provide information, not to control it. The rest of the story is at the Casper Star Tribune. There's another story here.


As someone who has smoked a fair amount of marijuana in the past its hard to get excited about this. But the bottom line is its illegal and a library shouldn't be buying materials that would be used solely for the purpose of breaking the law.

As a person who never smoked anything, I'm also not too worked up about it, other than I think it's kind of funny. Most libraries have lots of books on how to get around the law or even break it--like your subject line; our public library has a lot of books on how to avoid speeding tickets and essentially lie your way out of them. We also have a copy of "Final Exit," a how-to book on suicide which was pretty popular in the mid-90s. I'm sure there are books on dodging your taxes, and there's the always-popular "Anarchist's Cookbook" (which we kept at the reference desk and didn't allow checkouts). This book could be useful to lots of people besides potential criminals. Landlords who want to figure out if their tenants could possibly be growing pot would find it informative. I'm sure high school/college kids would find it helpful and interesting for school reports. Naive people like me could read it and probably understand more jokes in movies or on tv. I doubt anyone's going to come across this book in their library, check it out, and start growing lots of pot simply because the library made the info available to them.

I thought about the Final Exit book when writing the post. Honestly I don't have an answer. Its one thing to have materials discussing euthanasia another to have instructions on how to do it.
The speeding books I would guess are more about protecting your rights then then anything else.
And as for encouraging someone to suddenly start growing pot, it may not be what starts them but it would definitly make someone who is already interested much more likely to do it.

It's another case of a library director making a bad choice that undermines the public trust (same as when they ban legitimate books from outside pressure). If the product or teachings of the book is the sole purpose of growing an illegal product, there's no need for it in a public library. I can't see a legitimate argument for it. " was the library's job to provide information, not to control it." Blah. Now if a book on horticulture discussed marijuana and it's growth, need for high light, etc, that might be different.If the director holds this logic, then books on modifying your weapons to fully automatic, methamphetamine production, how to steal someone's identity, maybe even counterfeiting, should be purchased and put on display.Another Monday morning when I probably need more coffee.

Should legality matter?

Does it matter if the library is in a jurisdiction where dope is legal? I believe the voters in Alaska are voting on an initiative that would allow Alaskans to possess dope legally. Let say it passes, should that make any difference?

Making porno movies is legal, as long as it doesn't involve children and it isn't done outside in public (I assume). I'm sure it is also regulated in some content-neutral way, just like other movies. With that said, should a library have how-to books for entering the porn business? It is a legal business operation.

Any thoughts? This is certainly an interesting area.

N.B. I am unsure if there is any books on the production and marketing of porno movies. I'm sure there is because it is a huge business.

"Landlords who want to figure out if their tenants could possibly be growing pot would find it informative"

OK I give up why would my landlord want to know if I grow pot? Would it lower my rent if I shared some with him?

It is OK for my landlord to spy on me, but it is not OK for the Justice Department to see what books I checked out in response to a subpoena issued by a judge?

I know this is reaching a bit. But why is a book OK if it is used in some way to spy on someone doing something illegal by describing how that illegal thing is done. If it is OK for the landlord who can in no way get a subpoena, why is there such an outcry against the USA PATRIOT Act?

I don't have strong feelings about this book and its place in a public library. Probably a bad decision.

I am more interested if Betsy opposes filters in her library. Why?

If Betsy uses and supports a selection policy to justify what her library offers, whether it's print or digital shouldn't matter. This issue is about viewable content in the library, not $29.95.

My friend who has severe MS would cringe at your comparison of pot growing to identity theft, counterfeiting, etc. And so does this pot-loving librarian.I assume that the Teton librarian knows the joys, benefits, and relative harmlessness of marijuana. Sometimes a little civil disobedience is in order.Come out from under your buns and partake in the healing of the nations!

Well, plenty of drugs have legitimate purposes, and marijuana does too. Still, it's illegal unless the law allows for medical use. I couldn't care in the least what people do behind closed doors, but in the public realm, the law still holds that public use, posession and growth is illegal.Don't forget, we all have ill friends that may use, even non-ill 'pot-loving' friends, but that doesn't give license to libraries to encourage illegal activity.