Project Description: 

Accurately estimating unlicensed cultivation is crucial for assessing and designing interventions into the illicit market. This project aims to demonstrate the potential for accurate assessment of the amount and geography of unlicensed production in California with improved mapping tools and empirically-based data on cannabis cultivation. The analysis will delve into the role of policy in preventing unlicensed cultivation, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas, by examining data across a gradient of policies (e.g., bans, permits, abatements, license limits) in California’s 58 counties. The project will also estimate the total product in the unlicensed market, including diverted product from the legal market, by integrating unlicensed cultivation data with new tools on sales and consumption. Finally, the data will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of cultivation bans and permits in preventing unlicensed cultivation and environmental harms.

In summary, this project aims to:

a) Provide the first empirical assessments of unlicensed production amounts and geography over time;

b) Identify policies correlated with the growth or diminution of unlicensed cultivation;

c) Estimate total unlicensed market product, including leakage from the licensed to unlicensed market; and

d) Test whether cultivation bans or permits are more effective at preventing unlicensed cultivation and environmental harms.

Undergraduate's Role: 

This project offers multiple opportunities for undergraduate involvement based on their background and inclination. Potential projects include qualitative and comparative analysis of county regulations regarding cannabis permitting, analysis, and reporting of proposed state and federal legislation, quantitative research, and data compilation for tax rates per county, writing annotated bibliographies for factors influencing policy across California counties, and independent research into hemp ordinances. Additionally, there are projects for students interested in graphics, timelines, and creative visualizations, both for internal use and final report purposes. Finally, the project provides students the opportunity to work with geospatial data and ArcGIS Pro.

Undergraduate's Qualifications: 

The ideal candidate for the cannabis geographies project will be a student interested in the interplay between policy and on-the-ground decision-making and environmental management. Experience with qualitative and quantitative analysis, computing programs such as ArcGIS Pro, R Studio, and writing code in Python are a plus. However, this project welcomes undergraduates with little or no experience in these fields, offering them the chance to begin developing their skills as research scientists. Necessary qualifications include effective and reliable time management, accountability and communication, the ability to work independently or as part of a team, and a passion for research.

On Campus
3-6 hours