In September, I gave a talk entitled Purity and Pollution: Cannabis as Matter Out of Place at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. It was part of their Cannabis in Context series, which featured talks on US cannabis policy, cannabis and warfare in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the neuroscience of cannabis, the rise of CBD and negative experiences with edibles. In my talk I finally got to dig into some field notes on quality and safety testing laboratories, how they differentiate what is safe from what is dangerous, pure from impure, quality from inferior and then to extrapolate this framing to my other work on blight, nuisance, and the politics of environmental harm. Take a listen!
Check out the new issue of California Agriculture! Margiana Petersen-Rockney and I wrote a piece on our work in Siskiyou entitled Cannabis farmers or criminals? Enforcement-first approaches fuel disparity and hinder regulation. Check it out! And thanks to Margiana for being an amazing co-author and collaborator and for inviting me into her work in Siskiyou!
The Cannabis Research Center at UC Berkeley is excited to welcome you to our 1st Annual Research Briefing. We will present findings from our inaugural year and preview future projects. The briefing will take place on Thursday Sept. 12th from 5pm-7pm on the 8th floor of Barrows Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. The program will start promptly at 5pm with an introduction to the Cannabis Research Center at UC Berkeley followed by a research updates from Cannabis Research Center members.
Briefings will cover:
Insights into barriers to regulatory compliance from the largest ever survey of cannabis farmers
Updated estimates on water use for North Coast cannabis farms
Documented expansion and contraction of cannabis farms in California
Dynamics between cannabis farmers and other rural landowners
The evening will conclude with a wine and cheese reception and lively conversation.
This event is by invitation only and registration is limited. Register Now
Questions: please email Van Butsic at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just spent the afternoon in Sacramento at the Capitol, reporting on our research at the Cannabis Research Center. We met with folks from Fish & Wildlife, the Water Board, state parks, California Highway Patrol, the National Guard, the Bureau of Cnnabis Control, Food & Agriculture, Pesticides, CalCannabis, and the Cannabis Enforcement Unit, among others. Van Butsic gave a presentation on what kinds of farms and farmers are coming into compliance, and who is not. Ted Grantham spoke about his research on cannabis and water use. Hekia Bodwitch spoke about the statewide cultivator survey we conducted this summer. And I presented on the work I’ve been doing over the last decade. Great day, over all. Happy to keep contributing to understanding of this complex issue.
“WTF”, it says.
Click through to July 12th. We discuss our work, the Cannabis Research Center, and the survey and interview project we are currently doing on cannabis cultivators, regulation, and environmental dynamics.
I’ve been working on a survey with my colleague Hekia Bodwitch for the last couple months. it’s on cultivator’s experiences with cannabis regulations—especially around environmental and land use regulations. If you’re a cultivator and want to take it or just interested in reading more about it on the cover page, go to: https://www.ucanr.edu/sites/compliance/
Come see myself and three of my colleagues—Van Butsic, Phoebe Parker-Shames, and Hekia Bodwitch—talk about cannabis policy and the future of the industry. Part of the Discover Cal series Here is their blurb from the website:
Cannabis is unlike any other agricultural crop. Because of its circuitous history — once illegal to grow, and now legal in certain states but heavily regulated — cannabis has cast a unique footprint on the environment and the communities of farmers who grow it. UC Berkeley is home to the Cannabis Research Center , a multidisciplinary team of faculty exploring how cannabis production impacts the world around us. Join us as we learn how this rapidly developing field can grow with sustainability, equity, and society in mind.
I recorded a podcast with Sarah Edwards, of UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Listen to Talk Policy to Me “Talking Weed Policy” here. Here’s the blurb:
Jaunary 2019 marked the one-year anniversary of the legalization of recreational cannabis use in California, and the launch of the Cannabis Research Center at UC Berkeley. Sarah Edwards (MPP ‘20) sat down with Michael Polson, researcher and anthropologist, to discuss the impact of legalization on the growers and on the rural communities whose economies often center on cannabis cultivation. Tune in to unpack the equity concerns of the new process, the role of stigma in media narratives, and the personal implications of these changes.
Friday, Van Butsic, Hekia Bodwitch and I all took a trip up to Mendocino to pilot our survey with some generous, sharp, and super helpful cannabis farmers at Emerald Sun and Flow Kana. Thanks to everyone involved! The survey is on barriers to and experiences with compliance with environmental regulations. It tests several hypotheses about why people do and don’t decide to comply with regulations, including negative or positive experiences with regulators, the belief that a person achieves regulatory aims better (e.g. environmental sustainability) than government regulations, and fear that a person might not be able to weather the costs and demands of a regulated market. All of these are especially aggravated in the case of a formerly-prohibited substance.
Marijuana Legalization as Frontier Capitalism
Postdoctoral Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute of the London School of Economics
Moderated by Michael Polson
Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow in Political Economy and Natural Resource Economics and Cannabis Research Center affiliate
Wednesday, April 10 | 3:30-5pm
Social Science Matrix (820 Barrows Hall, 8th floor)
Please email Michael Polson - email@example.com - to RSVP. Space is limited.
Sponsored by the Cannabis Research Center, UC Berkeley
Co-sponsored by Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, UC Berkeley/UCSF Program in Medical Anthropology
Erica Lagalisse’s ongoing multi-sited ethnographic research of both medical(ized) and black-market marijuana production, distribution and consumption suggests that the legalization of marijuana functions as a form of frontier capitalism. Traditional producers are not granted rights to the marijuana strains and products they have developed; their appropriation by elites constitutes a form of primitive accumulation. This process is facilitated by traditional producers being cast as “violent” while new white, wealthy, corporate marijuana entrepreneurs are described as “safe” through constructed associations with medicine, purity, and “healing”—constructions of “health” are always political, class-making devices, brought to inaugurate class rights and the respectability of some at the expense of others.
This event is free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible.
For more information and to rsvp, please contact Michael Polson: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow I’ll be the “critic” to Michelle Newhart’s and William Dolphin’s new book Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience at the Pacific Sociological Association Conference. Luckily, it’s a well-crafted book that delves into the perspectives and insights of medical marijuana patients, showing us not only the peculiarities and lessons learned from medical marijuana but what challenges it poses to the broader practice of medicine in contemporary society. Check out the description of the conference session here.
The only thing I’d add to this discussion is that the term “cannabis” can accomplish a kind of science-washing and virtue-signaling that allows actors to rhetorically distance themselves from the political, racial, and social history of the plant and reuse it in sanitized, scientific-sounding claims for respectability.