Narcotics, Empire, and the Marijuana Frontier

Date and Time: 
Friday, 12 May, 2017 - 11:00
, Erica

Marijuana legalization has been one and the same with redefining marijuana activity as respectable, and yet the respectability of some always relies on the lack of respectability of others.  The “healing” activities of professional marijuana distributors and consumers are thus constructed against the “damaging” equivalent activities of persons of colour and the white working class.  My project thus approaches marijuana legalization as a form of colonialist primitive accumulation, in which the local traditional knowledge of diverse marijuana workers is appropriated for the service of Empire just as the same workers watch their related livelihoods and the marijuana Commons itself disappear.  Pro-legalization enthusiasts confuse consumer desire with a commitment to social justice when they suggest that neoliberal marijuana reform will translate into less violence and incarceration faced by Mexicans and black Americans.  With attention to colonial history as well as current border politics, I proceed to illustrate a likely opposite scenario.