Higher Education: California University Launches First Academic Marijuana Research Institute

Thursday, November 29, 2012
(graphic: theanaloguerevolution.com)

Humboldt State University (HSU) launched a unique academic initiative this fall that most people familiar with the school’s location, in prime California pot-growing territory, probably assumed already existed.


The newly-formed Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research is sponsoring a series of lectures and coordinating research among eleven of HSU’s faculty members to study various aspects of marijuana as it relates to different fields, including geography, politics, psychology, sociology and economics. It is believed to be the first such institute of its kind in the country.


Among the institute’s stated goals is to create a “high-profile Institute” to attract attention to marijuana policy analysis. That may already be working. Erick Eschker, a Humboldt economics professor and the institute's co-chair, said he is already fielding calls from media around the country about the institute’s work.


Critics speculated that the lectures would probably consist of baby boomers sitting around talking about Woodstock, and one blogger suggested that future research would include: “Could the Earth really be a marijuana seed in the pipe of some larger, alternate universe?”; “Peanut butter on apples with chocolate chips, the perfect munchies food;” and “Rolling a doobie the best way to develop fine motor skills.”


The subjects actually turn out to be a tad more serious than that.


Tuesday night’s lecture, one of seven to be delivered this semester, was entitled “Of Green Institutions and Incremental Policies: Marijuana Regulatory Reform.” The lecture by Ph.D candidate Jason Plume was based on his research into “venue shopping” by medical marijuana social movement organizations seeking to codify reform. It comes just weeks after Colorado and Washington voters passed marijuana legalization measures.


At an October gathering, Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey, District Attorney Paul Gallegos, two county supervisors and a state Department of Fish and Game biologist talked about the environmental impacts of marijuana production, and possible policy changes.    


Future lecture subjects include an examination of Dutch drug policy and the impacts of legalization on local economies.

-Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Marijuana Institute Takes Shape at HSU; Third in a Series of Lectures Tuesday (by Luke Ramseth, Eureka Times-Standard)

Humboldt State University Launches Research Institute Devoted to Marijuana (by Carly Schwartz, Associated Press)


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