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The globalisation of cannabis cultivation: a growing challenge

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineEditorial

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Drug Policy
Issue number3
Number of pages5
Pages (from-to)221-225
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date8/01/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Global patterns of cannabis cultivation have followed a fascinating development, from highly concentrated production in certain developing countries to decentralized production in almost every country around the world (UNODC, 2014). Historically, the spread of cannabis cultivation across the globe reflected the industrial utility of hemp; the widespread use of cannabis as a recreational drug did not appear until much later (Abel, 1980 and Booth, 2003). It is with the emergence of modern patterns of cannabis use in the developed world that we have seen major changes in patterns of cannabis production. As demand for cannabis increased globally, fuelled by the developments of the “counter-culture” of the 1960s and 1970s, so cultivation in the developing world began to take on new dimensions. Firstly, cultivation increased in many traditional growing regions as exportation to the consumer markets of the industrialized world became an attractive option. Secondly, in response to global demand, countries such as Morocco and Mexico became large-scale producers of cannabis and major suppliers to, respectively, European and American consumers, despite not having the traditions of cannabis cultivation found in Asia, the Middle-East or the Caribbean (Gooberman, 1974, UNODC, 2003, UNODC, 2005 and Moreno, 1997).

A third phase in the evolution of cannabis production has been the increase in cultivation across the industrialised world. From Europe to the Americas and Oceania, import substitution in the cannabis market has been noticed in almost every developed country (UNODC, 2014 and Decorte et al., 2011). Although some small-scale cultivation probably has almost as long a history as cannabis use in the west, widespread small-scale cultivation and larger-scale commercial production only begins to appear towards the end of the twentieth century. In some countries the levels of domestic cultivation have reached the stage where self-sufficiency in cannabis markets has largely been attained (Leggett, 2006, Bouchard, 2008 and Jansen, 2002).