From Hippies to High Yield Insights: The Evolution of an Industry

Mike Luce is not the first person to lament how increasingly banal marijuana becomes once the industry goes mainstream. Keith Stroup, who founded the nation’s oldest legalization lobbying firm, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), in 1970, told Rolling Stone in 1977 that the decade’s booming paraphernalia industry was developing just like anything else. “It’s a growth industry,” Stroup said, “that’s gonna be treated like tennis shoes must have been. I don’t say this out of any particular glee—I just think it’s a result of ‘the great free-enterprise system.’”

Screenshot 2018-11-28 14.47.09Luce, who founded High Yield Insights, one of the nation’s first cannabis marketing research firms, this past May, feels similarly as recreational legalization expands. “From a great distance,” Luce said, the “classic marketing research” High Yield does for its clients—which includes everything from crafting tailored patient and consumer insight reports, to consulting medical and recreational businesses on strategy, growth, planning and innovation—is “very similar” to work he did previously, when he spent over 15 years researching audiences for a packaged food company. The only difference now, however, is that while these practices are commonplace for companies that sell soda, soap or tires, they simply haven’t existed in the cannabis industry before.

That’s changing, Luce said, as legalization spreads and more companies are entering the cannabis space. For groups that want to produce everything from high-end edibles to designer labels, High Yield offers “a way to introduce basic business information to a new and expanding field,” Luce said. In short, programs like Luce’s are helping cannabis become a legitimate business again.

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Hidden Figures of Drug History: Joan Ganz Cooney

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in our new Hidden Figures of Drug History series, with more to come in the future. Next week Points will feature more exciting news about drug and alcohol history in the media, as well as a great recap of LSD use in New York City in the 1960s. Enjoy this post and come back next week for more!

Image result for marihuana a signal of misunderstandingThere are few subjects I like writing about more than the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse’s 1972 report, “Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding.” Also known as the Shafer Commission, the group’s report enlivened my book Grass Roots, and I’ve continued to mine it for material on how we can understand the Trump administration’s response to the opioid overdose epidemic today.

But there’s something of particular interest for those who want to understand the role gender has long played in American drug history within this report as well.  And that’s a name that appears within the list of the commission’s thirteen members, nine of whom were appointed by President Richard Nixon, and four of whom were senators and members of Congress. 

And that name is Mrs. Joan Ganz Cooney.

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Hidden Figures of Drug History: Lenore Kandel (1932-2009)

Editor’s Note: As a working mother of an active toddler, I don’t  have a lot of time to keep up with popular culture. But a few months ago my husband and I finally watched Hidden Figures. The movie is well done, and it got me thinking. First of all, is there anything Janelle Monae can’t do? And second, what if we applied this same idea – revealing the hidden and important roles of women – to our own field of drug and alcohol history?

And voila – Hidden Figures of Drug History was born. Today’s post is the first installment, in which we discuss Lenore Kandel, a too-often ignored leader of the counterculture and Beat movements. Enjoy!

“When a society is afraid of its poets, it is afraid of itself. A society afraid of itself stands as another definition of hell.” – Lenore Kandel

Kandel, who died in San Francisco in 2009 at the age of 77 from complications of lung cancer, was an uncommon woman in both the Beat and hippie countercultures. A peer and a participant rather than a girlfriend or a muse, Kandel was one of the strongest, most poetic, and perhaps the most frankly sexual voice of the female experience of San Francisco in the 1960s. Though she published only two books of poetry during her lifetime and was virtually unheard of for nearly thirty years preceding her death, her small body of work attracted both critical and popular acclaim, as well as wide-ranging legal ramifications. Nonetheless, a thorough understanding of the artistic movement of the 1960s is simply incomplete without considering her poetic, political, and psychedelic contributions. Lenore Kandel was a pioneer, challenging conventions in the realms of female artistry, literature, and the fight against censorship. The countercultural canon is incomplete without her.

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Video: Emily Dufton at Cannabis: Global Histories

When historians gathered at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, in April of this year for the Cannabis: Global Histories conference, we were fortunate to have Morgan Scott of Breathe Image there to document the event. Morgan also took short videos of all the presenters, in which we discussed our work and the conference itself. We’re excited to welcome Morgan as Points’ new art director, and will continue to feature his awesome work on the blog over the next few weeks.

It’s also time to make another announcement: I’m back again at the helm of Points, returning as managing editor after taking off for almost two years to have my first child (my baby boy Henry is almost 21 months old), and publishing my first book, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America. (Have you read it? Please write an Amazon review!)

As editor, I’m tasked with taking one for the team and overcoming my extreme self-consciousness to post my video first. You can check it out below. In it, I discuss an aspect of my dissertation that didn’t make it into my book: the parent movement’s international work in the 1980s, including the 1985 PRIDE conference which Nancy Reagan attended with nearly a dozen and a half first ladies from across the globe. This international battle against adolescent marijuana use was full of very powerful and popular imagery, but I argue that it was targeting a problem that wasn’t actually much of a threat.

Enjoy!

Going Green: Emily Dufton on Nick Johnson’s “Grass Roots: A History of Cannabis in the American West”

Editor’s Note: Today’s review of Grass Roots: A History of Cannabis in the American West by Nick Johnson comes courtesy of Points managing editor emeritus Emily Dufton. Her similarly-titled book, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America, hits shelves Tuesday, December 5; the same day, Points will feature an interview with the author. 

2017 will mark the release of two books on marijuana history, and they share some remarkable similarities. Both seek to expand the history of marijuana, moving beyond the discussions of politics and policy that are too often the sole focus of other works. Both also analyze marijuana’s powerful effects. Beyond its psychoactive components, these books look at marijuana’s social impact, from individuals involved in the thriving marijuana industry to the drug’s ripple effects on popular culture. And, most notably, both books share the same name. My book, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America, will be released by Basic Books on December 5, while Nick Johnson’s Grass Roots: A History of Cannabis in the American West, was published by Oregon State University in October. Continue reading →

Introducing our new managing editor, Kyle Bridge

Since Claire Clark and I took over Points in April 2014, we’ve been committed to bringing you the most unique, thoughtful, and hopefully entertaining posts on alcohol and drug history available on the web. And, through the consistent quality of our writing, we’ve achieved some significant success: we now reach nearly 9,000 unique visitors each month, and record over 13,000 views. Our articles have been picked up by Hacker News, Reddit, and the Atlantic, and we’ve become a trustworthy destination for researchers looking for information on national and international drug and alcohol history, whether that concerns the use of alcohol and tobacco in World War I, race in the modern war on drugs, or the correlation between mugshots and the abuse of meth. We have our staff of a dozen contributing editors and numerous guest bloggers to thank for the quality and value of our posts, and I’m constantly in awe of the incredible work they regularly turn out.

But my time as managing editor is coming, if temporarily, to a close. This post will be published on September 1st, which is also the due date of the birth of my first child. Though there are no guarantees that my baby boy will actually show up on that day, I’m handing over the reins to assistant managing editor Kyle Bridge, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Florida, so that I can focus on raising a tiny human and completing the manuscript for my first book: Grassroots, the history of marijuana activism from the 1960s to today, will be released by Basic Books in fall 2017.

Kyle has been involved with Points for years – you may recognize him from Pointscast, the podcast he produces with Alex Tepperman – and I have all the faith in the world that he’ll continue to oversee more incredible work from our writers. You can contact him at kbridge@ufl.edu if you’re interested in writing for Points, giving any comments, or just wishing him luck in his new role.

I hope to return to Points, either as an editor or a writer, as soon as I’ve gotten my feet back under me. Being a member of the Points family has been an incredible ride, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Stay tuned every Tuesday and Thursday morning for more posts that make short and insightful commentary about the long and complicated history of intoxicants in the US and abroad, and feel free to contact me at emily.dufton@gmail.com with any questions, concerns, or words of advice for new parents.

The 30th Anniversary of Len Bias’s Death

LenBiasThis may be hard to believe, but June 19th will mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Len Bias. The University of Maryland all-star and first-round pick for the Boston Celtics died two days after the NBA draft after overdosing on powder cocaine. His death was partially responsible for the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which in many ways set the tone for the excessively punitive drug war to come.

I was recently contacted by Tom Bonanno, editor of the website Celtics Life, who wanted to run segments of a blog post I wrote last September about visiting Bias’s grave in Suitland, Maryland. Bonanno’s post did a nice job of comparing my description of Bias’s small, quiet and frankly neglected grave with some of the flashier and more extravagant graves of other Celtics players who have passed. The differences between the graves – their size, their upkeep, their obvious visitors – is striking, and I think it speaks to what happens when we lose someone before their peak, when we’ve only seen glimmers of what they were truly capable of. Bias was an incredibly talented college player, but he died before playing a single NBA game, and his death was clearly tainted by its association with an illegal drug.

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