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Importance of Culture for Cannabis Markets: Towards an Economic Sociology of Illegal Drug Markets

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 52 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2012 Pages: 1133-1151
Sveinung Sandberg
Date Published
November 2012
19 pages

This study examined the importance of culture to the efficient functioning of cannabis markets.


This paper reports findings from 6 years of ethnographic and qualitative research on cannabis markets. Data include interviews with 60 cannabis dealers and 60 customers. The paper describes the vertical and horizontal organization of the cannabis economy, seen from the perspective of Norway. It further distinguishes between private, semi-public and public cannabis markets. The most important cultural influences in the cannabis economy are a non-commercial cannabis culture in private markets and a violent street culture in public markets. These coexist with a general market culture. The difference between markets and market cultures illustrates how illegal drug markets are performed, not 'natural', and thus the importance of economic sociology for the study of illegal drug markets. (Published Abstract)