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The Architecture of Illegal MarketsTowards an Economic Sociology of Illegality in the Economy$
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Jens Beckert and Matías Dewey

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198794974

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794974.001.0001

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Making the Medical Marijuana Market

Making the Medical Marijuana Market

Chapter:
(p.159) 9 Making the Medical Marijuana Market
Source:
The Architecture of Illegal Markets
Author(s):

Cyrus Dioun

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198794974.003.0009

How did entrepreneurs and activists establish medical marijuana markets in the United States despite more than a half-century of social stigma and state prohibition? In this chapter, I draw upon interviews with medical marijuana market pioneers to show how an exogenous shock and endogenous actors laid the foundation for a multi-billion dollar industry. Interviews suggest that the death and devastation of the AIDS epidemic compelled value-rational entrepreneurs to openly defy the law and build informal market institutions, such as organizational forms and rules of exchange, to supply marijuana to AIDS patients. Market proponents legitimized and legalized these informal institutions by deploying strategic frames portraying marijuana as a compassionate palliative for the dying and by passing ballot initiatives allowing medical marijuana use, first in San Francisco (1991) and then in California (1996).

Keywords:   economic sociology, organizations, social movements, illegal markets, cannabis, marijuana, AIDS

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