Illegal cannabis cultivation in the world, and as a subject in academic research

Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy / 2019 / EchoGéo.

Illegal cannabis cultivation as a worldwide phenomenon is the theme of this edition of EchoGéo. The authors who contributed to this edition have conducted research on a variety of countries and regions (by order of appearance: the world, the African continent, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Afghanistan, the United States of America, Europe).

Cannabis cultivation in the world: heritages, trends and challenges

Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy / 2019 / Echogéo.

Despite cannabis being the most common illegal drug crop in the world and its worldwide presence, very little is known about its production, trade, and consumption at the global scale. This is due mostly to over a century of global prohibition and the dangers associated to researching illegal drug crop production. Worse, the limited data available about cannabis cultivation is most often inaccurate, unreliable, and highly controversial. While this has always been problematic, in terms of sheer knowledge and informed policy-making, it has now become even more acute of an issue as global trends towards decriminalisation and legalisation are already provoking negative unintended consequences in poor producing countries. This article is an effort to present the state of the current knowledge and the present and future stakes of the fast-changing cannabis industry and legislation.

Territorial control and the scope and resilience of cannabis and other illegal drug crop cultivation

Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy / 2019 / EchoGéo.

As revealed by the examples of Morocco, northeast India, Afghanistan, Burma/Myanmar, and the United States of America, degrees of politico-territorial control or law-enforcement deficit by the state can explain, to some extent, the existence of large expanses of illegal drug cultivation. Causes of politico-territorial control deficit are many and non-exclusive. They include armed conflicts, corruption, loosely integrated territories, and lack of financial, human and material means of asserting state control. Large-scale illegal drug crop cultivation can take place according to three main scenarios: that of a full-fledged but inefficient war on drugs; that of toleration, for various motives, of illegal drug plant cultivation by the state (which can amount to negotiated but effective control); and that of the militarily-challenged state that cannot exert full control over its territory. The fact that total politico-territorial control by the state, no matter how powerful and resourceful, is deemed impossible, shows that the war on drugs is doomed to fail despite how many battles were won. Eventually, the very limits of the state’s politico-territorial control, when applied to counter-narcotics and law enforcement, implicitly question the illegality of a practice that is considered legitimate by many.

De la recherche de terrain sur la production agricole illégale de drogue

Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy / 2018 / L'espace politique.

Expliciter les conditions pratiques et les enjeux de la recherche de terrain portant sur la production illégale de drogue est nécessaire dès lors qu’il est le lieu par excellence de la collecte de données dites empiriques. En effet, de telles recherches sont clairement entravées par les difficultés et les dangers propres à l’objet et à la pratique du terrain en question, souvent du fait d’a priori. Ce texte est consacré à la conduite de ce type de recherche de terrain, à sa nature, sa préparation, son accès, et aussi à ses aléas et à ses risques, en abordant les questions méthodologiques, les stratégies et les techniques qui permettent de préparer et de mener de tels travaux de recherche, sans omettre les impératifs éthiques de l’après-terrain.

Illegal drug plant cultivation and armed conflicts. Case studies from Asia and Northern Africa

Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy / 2018 / Crisis and Conflict in the Agrarian World: An Evolving Dialectic.

In Asia and other continents, the internal peace of a number of countries has been affected, sometimes even conditioned, by the existence of illegal agricultural production and the ensuing illegal trade (Chouvy and Laniel, 2007). However, through loss of politico-territorial control, the armed conflicts that have afflicted certain states have made possible and even encouraged the development of such agricultural production and trafficking.

The New Moroccan Hashish

Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy / 2017 / Cannabis Now.

A close look at the rise of hashish production in Morocco, where cannabis cultivation has largely declined in the past few years and where a massive switch to hybrid varieties, which yield three to five times more hashish than the kif landrace, has taken place.