Earlier this month, the House passed legislation that would legalize marijuana nationwide, eliminating criminal penalties for anyone who manufactures, distributes or possesses the substance. In addition to decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, the bill would establish procedures for expunging previous convictions from people’s records and impose a tax on the sale of cannabis products.
The following recommended weed reads explore the political, legal, economic, and social dynamics around marijuana.
Can Legal Weed Win? The Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics by Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner (forthcoming June 2022, pre-order available)
Cannabis “legalization” hasn’t lived up to the hype. Across North America, investors are reeling, tax collections are below projections, and people are pointing fingers. On the business side, companies have shut down, farms have failed, workers have lost their jobs, and consumers face high prices. Why has legal weed failed to deliver on many of its promises? Can Legal Weed Win? takes on the euphoric claims with straight dope and a full dose of economic reality. Drawing upon reams of data and their own experience working with California cannabis regulators since 2016, economists Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner take readers on a whirlwind tour of the economic past, present, and future of legal and illegal weed.
Weed Land: Inside America’s Marijuana Epicenter and How Pot Went Legit by Peter Hecht
Early in the morning of September 5, 2002, camouflaged and heavily armed Drug Enforcement Administration agents descended on a terraced marijuana garden. The DEA raid on the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a sanctuary for severely ill patients who were using marijuana as medicine, is the riveting opening scene in ‘Weed Land,’ an up-close journalistic narrative that chronicles a transformative epoch for marijuana in America. Award-winning journalist Peter Hecht offers an independent, meticulously reported account of the clashes and contradictions of a burgeoning California cannabis culture that stoked pot liberalization across the country.
Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia’s First Drug Paradise by Lina Britto
Before Colombia became one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine in the 1980s, traffickers from the Caribbean coast partnered with American buyers in the 1970s to make the South American country the main supplier of marijuana for a booming US drug market, fueled by the US hippie counterculture. How did Colombia become central to the creation of an international drug trafficking circuit? ‘Marijuana Boom’ is the story of this forgotten history. Combining deep archival research with unprecedented oral history, Lina Britto deciphers a puzzle: Why did the Colombian coffee republic, a model of Latin American representative democracy and economic modernization, transform into a drug paradise, and at what cost?