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11 The globalization of (domestic) cannabis cultivation Prof. Dr. Tom Decorte Institute for Social Drug Research (ISD) Ghent University, Belgium San Sebastian.

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Presentation on theme: "11 The globalization of (domestic) cannabis cultivation Prof. Dr. Tom Decorte Institute for Social Drug Research (ISD) Ghent University, Belgium San Sebastian."— Presentation transcript:

1 11 The globalization of (domestic) cannabis cultivation Prof. Dr. Tom Decorte Institute for Social Drug Research (ISD) Ghent University, Belgium San Sebastian 26 October 2011

2 2 The rise of domestic cannabis production Import substitution in the cannabis market A drug-specific trend A universal trend Historical analysis of the phenomenon Factors shaping and explaining the phenomenon Typologies and motives of cannabis growers Policy implications

3 3 Cannabis: a plant and a drug Cannabis: an agricultural product (“ hemp” ), a drug crop ( “marihuana” ) and a medicine Cannabis: cannabis resin ( “hash” ) – herbal cannabis ( “marihuana” ) – cannabis oil – etc. Key characteristic: minimal processing required Highly adaptable, versatile plant

4 4 The demand for cannabis Cannabis = most widely and universally used illegal drug in the world Cannabis: from counter-subculture to mainstream culture (“normalization”) “Cannabis culture” (“pot culture”): - Cannabis clubs, campaign groups, societies - Books & magazines - Cannabis-themed websites and fora - Cannabis cups Social and political tolerance

5 5 A brief history of cannabis cultivation (1) Historic and traditional production Cultivation in the developing world for the expanding markets in the developed world Production in the developed world (first outdoor, later indoor)

6 6 A brief history of cannabis cultivation (2) Shift from an agricultural crop to a drug crop Emergence of modern patterns of cannabis use (demand) International efforts at drug control and eradication Prohibition creates “non-tariff-trade barriers” Local factors: geographical remoteness, political unrest, limited economic development and infrastructure

7 7 A brief history of cannabis cultivation (3) Responses from growers to anti-drug strategies Technology: indoor cultivation (hydroponic and climate control technologies) Plant husbandry and selective breeding (a versatile plant) Economic motives (financial reasons) versus ideological motives (intangible rewards)

8 8 Intangible rewards (1) Cheaper For personal use ‘Green fingers’ Curiosity Biological weed Avoiding illegal circuit The beauty of the plant Less travelling up and down

9 9 Intangible rewards (2) The quest for quality - Initial motive - Preference for varieties - Improvement of cultivation techniques - Advice to novice cultivators: biological cultivation strategies - Perception of own weed as more mild and healthy - Social rewards for ‘good’ weed - Stories about adulteration of commercial weed - Marketing strategy of coffee shops - Quality ≠ strength

10 Typologies of cannabis cultivators (1) Medicinal growersTherapeutic use Personal growers ‘ Communal growers ’ Small homegrowersPersonal use Better quality Hobby Avoiding illegal circuit Social growersFor friends Social rewards Social-commercial growers ‘ Pragmatists ’ Large independent commercial home growers Additional income Economical necessities Single homegrowers working for commissioners Commercial growers ‘ Hustlers ’ Entrepreneurial largescale producers Profit Entrepreneurs, business Organisers of entrepreneurial growing Hough et al. (2003)Weisheit (1992)Bovenkerk (2002)Motives

11 11 Typologies of cannabis cultivators (2) Motives: profit versus not-for profit Social network size: Individual enterprises versus group enterprises Age: Adolescents and adults Criminal involvement: generalists versus specialists (hobbyists) Hierarchy / degree of participation: Entrepreneurs versus helpers

12 12 “Good” and “bad” growing: weighing the impact of cannabis cultivation Cannabis cultivation Economic benefits Social benefits & rewards Criminality (involvement of organised crime) Environ- mental damage Loss of traditional economic activities Impact on consumption patterns

13 13 Explaining the spread of cannabis cultivation Spread of cannabis cultivation Opportunity Technology Knowledge (internet) Sustained demand Sustained supply of motivated offenders Relative failure of drug policy to prevent or stop the spread

14 14 Policy implications Proportion between different types of cultivators is unknown Differences in patterns and techniques of growing understudied Small scale cultivation is an important segment of the cannabis market, both in size and nature Possible unintended effects of repressive policy : waterbed-effects Policy strategies need to be evaluated in effects on all segments of the cannabis market Regulation of cannabis market is the best option in terms of public health

15 15 References Decorte, T., Potter, G.R. and Bouchard, M World Wide Weed. Global trends in cannabis cultivation and its control. Farnham: Ashgate. Decorte, T Domestic marihuana cultivation in Belgium: on (un)intended effects of drug policy on the cannabis market, in Cannabis in Europe: dynamics in perception, policy and markets, edited by D.J. Korf. Lengerich, Pabst Science Publishers, Decorte, T. 2010a. The case for small-scale domestic cannabis cultivation. The International Journal of Drug Policy, 21(4), Decorte, T. 2010b. Small scale domestic cannabis cultivation: an anonymous web survey among 659 cannabis cultivators in Belgium. Contemporary Drug Problems, 37 (Summer 2010),

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