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Knowledge of Good and Evil: An Urban Ethnography of a Smoking Culture


A significant amount of research has been dedicated to examining issues of drugs, drug abuse and drug dealing. Unfortunately, nearly all of the sociological and criminological literature on drug using and selling behavior has stayed trapped within a prism that fails to conceptualize the practice as anything other than, at best, a public health issue, and at worst, a criminal problem in need of eradication. This dissertation takes a different approach to understanding the phenomena of drug use, in particular cannabis use. Utilizing non-participant observations and semi-structured in-depth interview methodology, I sought to understand the ideas, culture, motivations and rationalizations of a group of cannabis users, growers and sellers in Southern California. This qualitative approach provided an in depth, descriptive and rich understanding of the motivations of cannabis users, growers and sellers. This dissertation presents a view of drug use and selling as inherently normal, non-problematic, and utilized for spiritual, social, cultural and reflexive purposes.

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