Book Review: Joint Ventures

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Regan, Trish. Joint ventures : inside America’s almost legal marijuana industry. Wiley, 2011.

Within the tranquil rolling hills of Northern California is an area known as the Emerald Triangle, where land is expensive, jobs are scarce and the politics are liberal.  The weather is perfect for growing marijuana, and there are more acres under cultivation in Mendocino County than anywhere else in the U.S.   Growers interviewed by Trish Regan for her book Joint Ventures report that the Reagan administration’s tough stand on drugs caused the price of pot to rise until it was obvious that residents could make a good living growing pot, which now accounts for 2/3 of the local economy.

Mendocino County is only one of the places that journalist Regan takes the reader as she investigates the Cannabis industry.  She begins by interviewing entrepreneurs of dispensaries in Denver and L.A. where medical use of marijuana is legal and regulated by the state, but is illegal at the federal level.  In Colorado, California and ten other states where medical marijuana is legal, there are many business opportunities, yet industry insiders maintain a low profile to avoid attracting the attention of DEA agents.

Author Regan also turns to the other side of the business, interviewing growers, brokers and investors, weaving their personal stories with facts about the marijuana industry.  Growing and selling on the black market is highly profitable, as expenses are low and profits are enormous.  Yet challenges abound.  Customers pay with small bills and banking the cash is a problem.  There is no legal recourse for bad products or shoddy service.  Crime is a risk at all levels. Regan ends her portrait of a fascinating industry with a discussion of the Portuguese experiment to decriminalize drugs.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.


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