Research on Cannabis Bans across California

Did you know that the majority of California’s population now lives in ban jurisdictions?

 Although adult-use cannabis was legalized by state voters in 2016, most localities opted to ban its cultivation.

Today, over two-thirds of localities in California still ban commercial cannabis cultivation.

 Our 2 year research project consisted of four in-depth case studies of “ban counties,” including Siskiyou, San Bernardino, Yuba, and Napa Counties. We conducted in-person ethnographic research (interviews and observations) with over 150 people!

Our report narrates the history of local control and cannabis cultivation bans, an overview of project methodology, four case study analyses, cross-county findings, and policy recommendations.

Read the final report for our DCC funded project – “Cannabis Bans, Local Control, and the Effects and Efficacy of Proposition 64”

Crowdfunding for Student Roles

April 1 – June 30

We’re starting a two month Crowdfunding campaign to fund Student Researcher roles.

Undergraduate and graduate students have reached out to us with questions and ideas about how to study cannabis and share this information with the world.

We want to nurture their academic growth and involve them in our work.

Since 2017 we have employed Post Doctoral researchers such as Michael Polson who is now our Director of Research!

Click here to directly support the next generation of cannabis researchers.

Watch a student produced documentary based on our research below.

Current Research Grants from

the Department of Cannabis Control

Grants awarded to UC Berkeley in 2023 from our state’s cannabis regulatory body, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC)

1. Understanding Investment, Operating Pressures, and Anti-Competitive Characteristics in the Cannabis Industry.

Summary: This project will examine whether and to what degree monopolistic and anti-competitive tendencies are emerging in the cannabis industry, the overall patterns of investment and ownership that threaten the competitive landscape of the California cannabis economy, the protective factors that enable small and equity businesses to withstand predatory behaviors, and the current and potential policies that are effective in preventing anti-competitive behaviors.


2. Licensed and Unlicensed Cultivation Across Banned and Permitted Jurisdictions.

Summary: This study will provide the first empirical assessments of unlicensed production amounts and geography over time; identify what policies are correlated with growth or diminution of unlicensed cultivation; estimate total unlicensed market product, including leakage from the licensed to unlicensed market; and test whether cultivation bans or permits are more effective at preventing unlicensed cultivation and environmental harms.


3. Hmong diasporas and cannabis: medicinal use, criminal justice consequences, and farm structure across licensed and unlicensed geographies.

Summary: Hmong farmers have become central in debates about cannabis cultivation and medical cannabis access in California. This community engaged research builds on 6+ years of relationship and trust building with Hmong farmers who grow crops that include cannabis. The research will explore four themes: 1) Hmong medicinal cannabis uses, cultivation practices, and traditional ethnobotanical and medicinal plant histories; 2) Hmong farmer migrations and diasporas; 3) Hmong interactions with criminal justice systems, particularly environmentally based law enforcement; and 4) capital and labor dynamics on Hmong cannabis farms. Research will be primarily ethnographic and participatory, using methods such as in-depth interviews and photovoice. In addition to both ban and permit localities in California, we will conduct research activities in other regions to query Hmong diasporas and agrarian migrations, such as Minnesota, Oklahoma, and North Carolina.