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Cannabis and Livelihoods in Africa: Risk or Opportunity

On 13th of July 2022, NatCen International hosted a webinar titled ‘Cannabis and livelihoods in Africa: risk or opportunity?’, to explore the implications of changing policies regarding the legality, production and use of cannabis on livelihoods and communities across Africa.

Now that a number of African countries have begun changing their policies to allow production of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, policy research is revealing negative consequences for African societies, especially the unequal access to the legal cannabis production market for smallholders and traders, and the resulting continued social and economic marginalisation of these groups. 

Chaired by NatCen International’s Ini Dele-Adedeji, this event invited speakers to share their findings on this thought-provoking, and quickly developing, area of policy research. Guests presented their research, and made critical reflections on the following questions:

  • What has been the impact of cannabis criminalisation legislations on livelihoods in various parts of Africa? 
  • What are the implications of the policy changes for the livelihoods of ordinary citizens who engage in cannabis?
  • In what ways can economic and policy reforms ensure broad-based agrarian transformation? 

The speakers were:

  • Dr Gernot Klantschnig is Associate Professor in International Criminology at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. His research focuses on the history and politics of drugs and drug policy, pharmaceutical markets and policing in West Africa.
  • Dr Clemence Rusenga is a Research Associate at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. He is a researcher on the Cannabis Africana: Drugs and Development in Africa project. His research focuses on land and agrarian development/livelihoods, and the nexus between drugs, land policy and development.
  • Dr Simon Howell is a research fellow in the Global Risk Governance programme at the University of Capetown. His primary research areas include drugs, gangs, violence, and general mayhem. His previous research has explored the relationship between justice and violence, and marginalised peoples’ identities. He has previously conducted research focusing on teenage mothers, township youths, drug users, gangsters, and police officials.
  • Dr Max Gallien is a political scientist specialising in the politics of informal and illegal economies, smuggling, the political economy of development, and North African politics. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and at the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD). He is also a Senior Fellow at the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime (GITOC).