Identity and Entrepreneurship in California’s Medical Cannabis Industry

3410000930_95fc2866fa_zCalifornia’s medical cannabis industry operates in a legal gray area–while state law allows for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries, federal laws still list cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. As a result of the complex legal context, the medical cannabis industry stands as a unique underground market in California, defined by an attitude of defiance and disregard for the prohibition of cannabis. In the recent Journal of Macromarketing paper entitled “Entrepreneurship, Identity, and the Transformation of Marketing Systems: Medical Cannabis in California,” author Kenji Klein analyzes how medical cannabis entrepreneurs, who perceive cannabis prohibition to be unfounded, are able to enact their value identities by challenging prohibition. The abstract for the paper:

This paper examines how entrepreneurs operating in underground markets come to see laws governing marketing systems as illegitimate and explores the role identity plays in motivating entrepreneurs to challenge existing institutions. Analysis of Current Issue Coverinterviews with 27 cannabis dispensary founders showed that entrepreneurs came to reject medical cannabis prohibition as illegitimate after direct experience with both cannabis and traditional medicines convinced them the factual basis upon which prohibition rested was flawed. Perception of prohibition’s illegitimacy fostered entrepreneur identification as a member of a superior in-group constrained by an illegitimate institution. Pursuing opportunities in illegal markets then became a vehicle for entrepreneurs to enact valued identities by challenging and undermining prohibition. This analysis extends work on informal economy entrepreneurship by showing that dis-identification with formal institutions does more than enable entrepreneurs to recognize economic opportunities ignored by those working within institutional boundaries; it also opens existing marketing systems to decay by providing economic and psychological resources for dismantling the laws that govern them.

You can read “Entrepreneurship, Identity, and the Transformation of Marketing Systems: Medical Cannabis in California” from Journal of Macromarketing free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of MacromarketingClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Medical marijuana sign image attributed to Chuck Coker (CC)

This entry was posted in Macromarketing, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Identity and tagged , , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, Management INK. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, Management INK

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 900 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, and Washington DC, our publishing programme includes more than 560 journals and over 800 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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