Cannabis-Infused Dreams: A Market at the Crossroads between Criminal and Conventional

Michele Cadigan, Sociology, University of Washington - Seattle
Keywords - Racial Capitalism, Morals and Markets, Race and Organizations

My dissertation, titled Cannabis-Infused Dreams: A Market at the Crossroads between Criminal and Conventional, shows how state-level regulations and criminal reforms combine with retailer’s everyday practices to create new forms of racial inequality in Seattle’s cannabis markets. This is a mixed-method project that includes ethnographic field work at three sites, over sixty semi-structured interviews with market regulators, community advocates, and cannabis retail store owners and employees, and archival research of legislative and organizational rule-making meetings. Drawing on this data, I combine insights from critical race theory with economic sociology’s findings on morals and markets to identify the mechanisms that are shaping one of the newest fastest growing frontiers in racial capitalism. Approaching cannabis sales as a case of a moralizing market with deep roots in racist criminal legal and economic policy, I interrogate how racial hierarchies are reproduced or challenged by lawmakers as they set policies and sellers as they exchange goods. This work is supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, and the Alcohol, Drugs, and Addictions Institute.

This project is part of a larger body of work that shows how laws and markets combine to create intersectional inequalities; this research has appeared in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Russell Sage Foundation: RSF Journal for the Social Sciences, and the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice.