introduction: cultivation, medication, activism and cannabis policy

Introduction: cultivation, medication, activism and cannabis policy

Publication date: 4 June 2018



The purpose of this paper is to introduce the special issue on Illicit Cannabis Cultivation in a Time of Policy Change.


The paper reviews some of the different adaptations made by cannabis growers in countries where cannabis has not been legalised.


Cannabis growers are adjusting to different legal settings by focusing on home production. Participation in cultivation is a crime, but can also be activism: an effort to change the law. Medical use of cannabis is a particularly important driver here. Having to break the law to alleviate symptoms and treat illnesses provides both a greater sense of urgency and a level of sympathy not usually granted to illicit drug users.

Practical implications

Grass-roots advocacy may drive policy change.


This is an original assessment of current state of knowledge on cannabis cultivation in countries where cannabis cultivation remains restricted.


  • Social movements
  • Cannabis activism
  • Cannabis cultivation
  • Cannabis legalisation
  • Medical cannabis
  • Patient’s voice


Bone, M., Potter, G. and Klein, A. (2018), “Introduction: cultivation, medication, activism and cannabis policy”, Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 73-79.


Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Introduction: cultivation, medication, activism and cannabis policy – Author: Melissa Bone, Gary Potter, Axel Klein

Other works

This page lists a selection of publications on the topic of cannabis cultivation and related policies by members of the research team.

Special issue of International Journal of Drug Policy

Potter, G. R., & Decorte, T., (Eds.). (2015). Special Issue: Domestic cannabis cultivation. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(3).


Decorte, T. (2018). Regulating cannabis. A detailed scenario for a nonprofit cannabis market. Archway Publishers.

Room, R., Fischer, B., Hall, W., Lenton, S., & Reuter, P. (2010). Cannabis policy. Moving beyond stalemate. Oxford University Press.


Barratt, M.J., Chanteloup, F., Lenton, S., & Marsh, A. (2005). Cannabis law reform in Western Australia: An opportunity to test theories of marginal deterrence and legitimacy. Drug and Alcohol Review, 24, 321-330.

Bogt, T., de Looze, M. E., Molcho, M., Godeau, E., Hublet, A., Kokkevi, A., Kuntsche, E., Saoirse, G. N., Franelic, I., Simons-Morton, B., Sznitman, S., Vieno, A., Vollebergh, W., & Pickett, W. (2014). Do societal wealth, family affluence, and gender account for trends in adolescent cannabis use? A 30 country cross-national study. Addiction, 109(2): 273-283.

Boidi, M. F., Queirolo, R., & Cruz, J. M. (2016). Cannabis consumption patterns among frequent consumers in Uruguay. International Journal of Drug Policy, 34, 34-40.

Bone, M., Potter, G., & Klein, K. (2018). Introduction: Cultivation, medication activism and cannabis policy. Drugs and Alcohol Today, 18(2), 73-79.

Bouchard, M. (2008). Towards a realistic method to estimate the size of cannabis cultivation industry in developed countries. Contemporary Drug Problems, 35, 291-320.

Bouchard, M., & Dion, C.B. (2009). Growers and facilitators: Probing the role of entrepreneurs in the development of the cannabis cultivation industry. Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, 22, 25-38.

Bouchard, M., Alain, M., & Nguyen, H. (2009). Convenient labour: The prevalence and nature of youth involvement in the cannabis cultivation industry. International Journal of Drug Policy, 20, 467-474.

Bouchard, M., Beauregard, E., & Kalacska, M. (2013). Journey to grow: Linking process to outcome in target site selection for cannabis cultivation. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 50, 33-52.

Castillo‐Carniglia, A., Rivera‐Aguirre, A., Calvo, E., Queirolo, R., Keyes, K. M., & Cerdá, M. (2020). Trends in marijuana use in two Latin American countries: An age, period and cohort study. Addiction, 1-9.

Coitiño, M., Queirolo, R., & Triñanes, A. (2017). Dos drogas, diferentes mensajes: Los medios y la regulación de la marihuana y el alcohol en Uruguay. Revista Contratexto, 28, 119-146.

Coomber, R., Moyle, L., Belackova, V., Decorte, T., Hakkarainen, P., Hathaway, A., Laidler, K., Lenton, S., Murphy, S., Scott, J., Stefunkova, M., van de Ven, K., Vlaemynck, M. & Werse, B. (2018). The burgeoning recognition and accommodation of the social supply of drugs in international criminal justice systems: An eleven-nation comparative overview. International Journal of Drug Policy, 58, 93–103.

Cruz, J. M., Queirolo, R., & Boidi, M. F. (2016). Determinants of public support for marijuana legalization in Uruguay, the United States, and El Salvador. Journal of Drug Issues, 46(4), 308-325.

Cruz, J. M., Boidi, M. F., & Queirolo, R. (2017). The status of support for cannabis regulation in Uruguay 4 years after reform: Evidence from public opinion surveys. Drug and Alcohol Review, 37(S1), S429-S434.

Cruz, J. M., Boidi, M. F., & Queirolo, R. (2018). Saying no to weed: Public opinion towards cannabis legalisation in Uruguay. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 25(1), 67-76.

Decorte, T. (2010). The case for small-scale domestic cannabis cultivation. International Journal of Drug Policy, 21, 271-275.

Decorte, T., Pardal, M., Queirolo, R., Boidi, M. F., Avilés, C. S., & Franquero, Ò. P. (2017). Regulating cannabis social clubs: A comparative analysis of legal and self-regulatory practices in Spain, Belgium and Uruguay. International Journal of Drug Policy, 43, 44-56.

Fortin, D. (2019) Per la cannabis un business senza crisi. Economia & management: la rivista della Scuola di Direzione Aziendale dell’Università L. Bocconi, 2, 51-56.

Fortin, D., & Massin, S. (2020). Medical cannabis: thinking out of the box of the healthcare system. Journal de gestion et d’économie de la santé, 2(2), 110-118.

Gallupe, O., Bouchard, M., & Caulkins, J. (2011). No change is a good change? Restrictive deterrence in illegal drug markets. Journal of Criminal Justice, 39, 81-89.

Hakkarainen, P (2016). Vaporizing the pot world – easy, healthy, and cool. Drugs and Alcohol Today, 16(3), 185–193.

Hakkarainen, P., & Karjalainen, K. (2017). Pilvee, pilvee. Kannabiksen käyttötavat, käyttäjät ja poliittiset mielipiteet [Cannabis: use habits, users and public opinion on policy]. Yhteiskuntapolitiikka, 82(1), 19–33.

Hakkarainen, P., Perälä, J., & Metso, L. (2011). Kukkaa pukkaa – Kannabiksen kotikasvatus Suomessa [Bud, bud, bud – Home growing of cannabis in Finland]. Yhteiskuntapolitiikka 76(2), 157-168.

Klein, A., & Potter, G. (2018). The three betrayals of the medical cannabis growing activist: From multiple victimhood to reconstruction, redemption and activism. International Journal of Drug Policy. 53: 65-72.

Lenton, S. (2004). Pot, politics and the press–reflections on cannabis law reform in Western Australia. Drug and Alcohol Review, 23, 223-233.

Lenton, S. (2014). New regulated markets for recreational cannabis: public health or private profit? Addiction, 109(3), 354-355.

Lenton, S., & Allsop, S. (2010). A tale of CIN–the Cannabis Infringement Notice scheme in Western Australia. Addiction, 105, 808-816.

Lenton, S., Grigg, J., Scott, J.A., Barratt, M.J. & Eleftheriadis, D. (2015). The social supply of cannabis among young people in Australia (Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice no. 503). Australian Institute of Criminology.

Lenton, S., Liang, W., & Chikritzhs, C. (2011). Evidence of increasing age of onset of cannabis use among younger Australians. Addiction, 107, 650-657.

Lenton, S., & Subritzky, T. (2017). On sentinel samples, sales data and potency. Commentary on Kilmer and Pacula, 2017. Addiction, 112(7), 1137-1138.

Lewis, N., Broitman, D., & Sznitman, S. (2015). Medical cannabis: A framing analysis of Israeli newspaper coverage. Communication Science, 1-28.

Lewis, N., & Sznitman, S. (2017). You brought it on yourself: The joint effects of message type, stigma, and responsibility attribution on attitudes toward medical cannabis. Journal of Communication, 67, 181–202.

Lewis, N., & Sznitman, S. (2019). Engagement with medical cannabis information from online and mass media sources: Is it related to medical cannabis attitudes and support for legalization? International Journal of Drug Policy, 73, 219-227.

Nguyen, H., & Bouchard, M. (2010). Patterns of youth participation in cannabis cultivation. Journal of Drug Issues, 40, 263-294.

Nguyen, H., & Bouchard, M. (2013). Need, connections, or competence? Criminal achievement among adolescent offenders. Justice Quarterly, 30, 44-83.

Pacula, R. L., Powell, D., Heaton, P., & Sevigny, E. L. (2015). Assessing the effects of medical marijuana laws on marijuana use: The devil is in the details. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 34(1), 7-31.

Pardal, M., Decorte, T., Bone, M., Parés, Ò., & Johansson, J. (2020). Mapping cannabis social clubs in Europe. European Journal of Criminology, 1477370820941392.

Pardal, M., Queirolo, R., Álvarez, E., & Repetto, L. (2019). Uruguayan cannabis social clubs: From activism to dispensaries? International Journal of Drug Policy, 73, 49-57.

Potter, G. (2017). Real gates to virtual fields: Integrating online and offline ethnography in studying cannabis cultivation and reflections on the applicability of this approach in criminological ethnography more generally. Methodological Innovations, 10(1).

Queirolo, R. (2020). The effects of recreational cannabis legalization might depend upon the policy model. World Psychiatry, 19(2), 195.

Queirolo, R., Boidi, M. F., & Cruz, J. M. (2016). Cannabis clubs in Uruguay: The challenges of regulation. International Journal of Drug Policy, 34, 41-48.

Queirolo, R., Rossel, C., Álvarez, E., & Repetto, L. (2019). Why Uruguay legalized marijuana? The open window of public insecurity. Addiction, 114(7), 1313-1321.

Rødner, S. (2007). An examination of the normalization of cannabis use among 9th grade school students in Sweden and Switzerland. Addiction Research and Theory, 13(4), 333-346.

Scott, J.A., Grigg, J., Barratt, M.J., & Lenton, S., (2017). Social capital and cannabis supply. Journal of Sociology, 53(2), 382-397.

Sevigny, E. L. (2013). Is today’s marijuana more potent simply because it’s fresher? Drug Testing and Analysis, 5(1), 62-67.

Sevigny, E. L. (2017). Marijuana liberalization, research, and policy: Contributions to current knowledge and practice. Journal of Primary Prevention, 38(3), 211-216.

Sevigny, E. L., Pacula, R. L., & Heaton, P. (2014). The effects of medical marijuana laws on potency. International Journal of Drug Policy, 25(2), 308-319.

Subritzky, T., Lenton, S., & Pettigrew, S. (2016). Legal cannabis industry adopting strategies of the tobacco industry. Drug and Alcohol Review, 35(5), 511–513.

Subritzky, T., Lenton, S., & Pettigrew, S. (2019) Cannabis and youth protection in Colorado’s commercial adult-use market: A qualitative investigation. International Journal of Drug Policy, 74, 116-126.

Subritzky, T., Pettigrew, S., & Lenton, S. (2016). Issues in the implementation and evolution of the commercial recreational marijuana market in Colorado. International Journal of Drug Policy, 27, 1–12.

Subritzky, T., Pettigrew, S., & Lenton, S. (2017). Into the void: Regulating pesticide use in Colorado’s commercial cannabis markets. International Journal of Drug Policy, 42, 86-96.

Sznitman, S. (2017). Do recreational cannabis users, unlicensed and licensed medical cannabis users form distinct groups? International Journal of Drug Policy, 42, 15-21.

Sznitman, S., & Bretteville-Jensen, A. (2015). Public opinion and medical cannabis policies: Examining the role of underlying beliefs and national medical cannabis policies. Harm Reduction Journal, 12, 46.

Sznitman, S., Goldberg, V., Sheinman-Yuffe, H., Flechter, E., & Bar-Sela, G. (2016). Storage and disposal of medical cannabis among oncology patients: Assessing the risk of diversion and unintentional digestion. Cancer, 122(21), 3363-3370.

Sznitman, S., Kolobov, T., Bogt, T., Kuntsche, E., Walsh, S., & Harel-Fisch, Y. (2015). Investigating cannabis use normalization by distinguishing between experimental and regular use, a multi-level study in 31 countries. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 76(2), 181-189.

Sznitman, S., & Lewis, N. (2015). Is cannabis an illicit drug or a medicine? A quantitative framing analysis of Israeli newspaper coverage. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(5), 446-452.

Sznitman, S., & Lewis, N. (2018). Examining effects of medical cannabis narratives on beliefs, attitudes and intentions related to recreational cannabis: A web-based randomized experiment. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 31, 185, 219-225.

Sznitman, S., Pinsky-Tali, P., Salameh, M., Moed, T., & Bentur Y. (2020). Cannabis and synthetic cannabinoid exposure reported to the Israel poison information center: Examining Differences in Exposures to Medical and Recreational Compounds. International Journal of Drug Policy, 77, 102711.

Sznitman, S. & Room, R. (2018). Rethinking indicators of problematic cannabis use in the era of medical cannabis legalization. Addictive Behaviors, 77, 100-101.

Sznitman, S., & Zolotov, Y. (2015). Cannabis for therapeutic purposes and public health and safety: A systematic and critical review. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(1), 20-29.

Tandowski, A., Zolotov, Y., & Sznitman, S. (2019). Do users of diverted medical cannabis differ from other cannabis user? Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 80(1):42-45

Werse, B. (2014). Wie kriminell sind ‘Social Supplier’ – Ergebnisse zum Drogenkleinsthandel aus zwei empirischen Studien. Rausch – Wiener Zeitschrift für Suchttherapie, 3(2), 98-106.

Wilkins, C., & Casswell, S. (2003). Organized crime in cannabis cultivation in New Zealand: an economic analysis. Contemporary Drug Problems, 30, 757-777.

Wouters, M., Benschop, A., van Laar, M., & Korf, D. J. (2012). Cannabis use and proximity to coffee shops in the Netherlands. European Journal of Criminology, 9(4), 337-353.

Zarhin, D., Negev, M., Vulfsons, S., & Sznitman, S. (2018). Rhetorical and regulatory boundary work: The case of medical cannabis policy-making in Israel. Social Science & Medicine, 217, 1-9.

Zarhin, D., Negev, M., Vulfsons, S., & Sznitman, S. (2020). “Medical cannabis” as a contested medicine: Fighting over epistemology, ontology and morality. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 45(3), 488-514.

Zolotov, Y., Zarhin, D., Vulfsons, S., & Sznitman, S. (2018). Medical cannabis: an oxymoron? Physicians’ perceptions of medical cannabis. International Journal of Drug Policy, 57, 4-10.

Book chapters

Decorte, T. (2008). Domestic cannabis cultivation in Belgium: On (un)intended effects of drug policy on the cannabis market. In D. J. Korf (Ed.), Cannabis in Europe: Dynamics in perception, policy and markets (pp. 69-86). Pabst Science Publishers.

Fortin, D., Liotti, MP., & Milan, S. (2020). L’economia dell’infiorescenza: Cannabis light e altre opportunità di reddito per la filiera agricola italiana. In P. Ranalli (Ed.), La canapa: l’attualità di una pianta di grande tradizione in Italia (pp. 67-106). Edagricole.

Hautala, S., Hakkarainen, P., Kataja, S., Kailanto, K., & Tigerstedt, C. (2018). Huumeiden käytön vaiettu mielihyvä [Ignored pleasures of drug use]. In J. Valkonen (ed.), Häiritsevä yhteiskuntatutkimus (pp. 77-98). Lapland University Press.

Lenton, S. (2005). Deterrence theory and the limitations of criminal penalties for cannabis use. In T. Stockwell, P. J. Gruenewald, J. W. Toumbourou & W. Loxley (Eds.), Preventing harmful substance use. The evidence base for policy and practice (pp. 267-277). John Wiley and Sons.

Lenton, S. (2011). Knowledge Transfer at the Political Level: Bridging the Policy Research to Policy Practice Gap. In E. Banister, B. Leadbeater & A. Marshall (Eds.), Knowledge translation in context: Indigenous, policy, and community settings (pp. 105-125). University of Toronto Press.

Lenton, S. (2011). Reforming laws applying to domestic cannabis production as a harm reduction strategy – A case study. In T. Decorte, G. Potter & M. Bouchard (Eds.), World wide weed: Global trends in cannabis cultivation and its control (pp. 197-213). Ashgate.

Potter, G. R. (2008). The growth of cannabis cultivation: Explanations for import substitution in the UK. In D. J. Korf (Ed.), Cannabis in Europe: Dynamics in perception, policy and markets (pp. 87-105). Pabst Science Publishers.

Potter, G. R. (2010). You reap what you sow. Profit, pleasure and pain in domestic cannabis cultivation. In T. Decorte & J. Fountain (Eds.), Pleasure, pain and profit. European perspectives on drugs (pp. 134-154). Pabst Science Publishers.

Potter, G., & Klein, A. (2020). Coming out of the closet: Risk management strategies of illegal cannabis growers. In S. MacGregor & B. Thom (Eds.), Risk and substance use: Framing dangerous people and dangerous places (pp. 201-221). Routledge.

Queirolo, R. (2020). Uruguay: the first country to legalize cannabis. In T. Decorte, S. Lenton, & C. Wilkins (Eds.), Legalizing cannabis: Experiences, lessons and scenarios (pp 116-130). Routledge.

Subritzky, T., Lenton, S., & Pettigrew, S. (2020). Practical lessons learned from the first years of the regulated recreational cannabis market in Colorado. In T. Decorte, S. Lenton, & C. Wilkins (Eds.), Legalizing cannabis: Experiences, lessons and scenarios (pp 39-61). Routledge.

Werse, B. (2008). Retail markets for cannabis – users, sharers, go-betweens and stash dealers. In: D. J. Korf (Ed.), Cannabis in Europe: Dynamics in perception, policy and markets (pp. 106-123). Pabst Science Publishers.

Other works This page lists a selection of publications on the topic of cannabis cultivation and related policies by members of the research team. Special issue of International Journal of ]]>