Documenting the Legacy of California Cannabis

Proposition 64, the California cannabis legalization ballot initiative passed in 2016, created cannabis-specific taxes. A portion of these cannabis tax revenues are used to fund cannabis research initiatives through California’s public universities. On April 25th, 2023 the California Department of Cannabis Control awarded $2.7 million dollars to a group of academic researchers, scientists, and community based organizations to develop a multidisciplinary, community-based participatory research (CBPR) study that will identify, document, and help to preserve the history, value, and diversity of California’s legacy cannabis genetics and the communities that steward them.


Community-based participatory research is a partnership approach to research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, and academic researchers in all aspects of the research process. The community organizations partnered on this study are ORIGINS COUNCIL (OC), a California nonprofit public policy and research institute serving California’s historic rural cannabis farming regions, and the United CORE Alliance (UCA), a statewide equity advocacy organization representing the interests of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) in urban communities. 


The study is being collaboratively led by a multidisciplinary team of researchers including DR. DOMINIC CORVA, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Program Leader of the Cannabis Studies major at California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt; GENINE COLEMAN, Executive Director of Origins Council; DR. TODD HOLMES, historian with the Oral History Center at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; DR. ELEANOR KUNTZ, Co-founder of Canndor the world’s first cannabis herbarium and Co-founder and CEO of LeafWorks, a genomics and plant science company. Research outputs will include: cannabis genomics data; a special collection cannabis herbarium; oral histories and ethnographic interviews; a series of educational webinars and publications regarding intellectual property tools for genetic resources; a suite of research-based public policy recommendations; and advancement towards research-based, community-driven consensus on the definition of legacy cannabis.    

The Legacy of Big Sur Cannabis 

This short documentary spotlights the history of Big Sur's cannabis community, as told by longtime cultivator and President of the the Big Sur Farmer's Association, Oliver Bates.  In the years to come, this project seeks to further document the cultural and genetic histories of more cannabis communities throughout the state.