1st Edition

Cannabis Criminology

By Johannes Wheeldon, Jon Heidt Copyright 2023
    182 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    182 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Cannabis Criminology explores the prohibition, decriminalization, and liberalization of cannabis policy through the lens of criminological and sociological theory, essential concepts, and cannabis research. It does so by focusing on five thematic areas: law, society, and social control; police and policing; race, ethnicity, and criminalization; the economics of cannabis; and cannabis use and crime. It is the first book on cannabis since President Joe Biden signed an executive order in 2022 to pardon citizens and lawful permanent residents convicted of simple cannabis possession under federal law and DC statute. Cannabis is now legal in some form in 37 US states. To understand the reform of cannabis policy and the challenges to come, we first need to understand the connections between cannabis and criminology. 

    The book links key areas in past and contemporary cannabis research to criminological and sociological theories, including key concepts, emergent concerns, and new directions. Based on an up-to-date review of this growing area of research, the book outlines a research program based on five essential thematic areas. Introducing cannabis as a critical case study in moral-legal re-negotiation, it outlines how cannabis prohibition has influenced cannabis around the world. Five discrete chapters focus on thematic areas, criminological and sociological theories, define essential concepts, and provide research focused on law, society, and social control (Chapter 2), police and policing cannabis (Chapter 3), race, ethnicity, and criminalization (Chapter 4), the economics of cannabis (Chapter 5), and cannabis and crime (Chapter 6). The book concludes by presenting new ways to engage prohibitionist thinking, by challenging myths, embracing social media, and developing a duty of care to guide future cannabis researchers and explicitly involve people who use cannabis.

    Cannabis Criminology will be of interest to a variety of readers, including students and scholars from a range of backgrounds studying drug use, drug policy, cannabis legalization, and other drug-related issues. It will also appeal to policymakers who want to know more about cannabis legalization and drug prohibition, those working in the criminal justice system, and social work professionals. Due to its accessible style, people involved in the cannabis industry, as well as cannabis users may also find the book interesting.

    1 Cannabis Criminology: An Introduction

    2 Law, Society, and Social Control

    3 Police and Policing Cannabis

    4 Race, Ethnicity, and Criminalization

    5 The Economics of Cannabis

    6 Cannabis Use and Crime

    7 Cannabis Criminology: Back to the Future


    Johannes Wheeldon has more than 20 years of experience in criminal justice, including teaching in prisons; working with those deemed at high risk to re-offend; and designing, conducting, and managing justice reform projects worldwide. He has worked with the American Bar Association, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Open Society Foundations, and the World Bank. Wheeldon has published 6 books and more than 30 peer-reviewed papers on criminal justice, restorative justice, organizational change, and evaluation. He is an adjunct professor at Acadia University. In 2022, he edited Visual Criminology: From History and Methods to Critique and Policy, published by Routledge.

    Jon Heidt is an Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. Dr Heidt has studied criminological theories, drug policy, and drug using behavior for over 20 years and has taught criminology courses at several different academic institutions in British Columbia. He is also an associate of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform & Criminal Justice Policy. He has co-authored several books including Introducing Criminological Thinking: Maps, Theories and Understanding and Youth Crime Prevention and Sports (with Yvon Dandurand).