Cannabis and Public Policy in the United States

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This seminar examines the history and geography of cannabis production, consumption, and regulation in the United States. We will examine the racialized construction of cannabis as a legislated “threat to society,” regimes and geographies of criminal enforcement, the association of cannabis with the emergence and proliferation of “counterculture” in the 1960s, its biopolitical (re)medicalization in the 1990s in conjunction with HIV/AIDS activism, its “medical” economic industrialization in the 2000s, and the political ecology of contemporary federal and state regulation and enforcement. Special attention will be paid to the political economy of cannabis agriculture in California from the 1970s to the present day, as this is my active research agenda. Students will have an opportunity to serve internships with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), among other organizations working to transform policy. I anticipate a range of guest speakers from law enforcement, grassroots community organizing, policy reform organizations, and medicine.