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Studying Drugs in Rural Areas: Notes from the Field

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 30 Issue: 2 Dated: (May 1993) Pages: 213-232
Date Published
20 pages
This study examines research issues in the study of drugs in rural areas, drawing on the author's experiences in studying domestic marijuana production.
In this study, 32 commercial marijuana growers from Illinois were interviewed, as were 20 Illinois officials, 13 officials from five other States, and over 12 others from around the country who had some familiarity with marijuana growers. The focus of this discussion is on methodological issues. During the course of the study, three factors emerged to account for inattention to the domestic marijuana industry. These are the rural setting in which marijuana growing occurs, the nature of the marijuana industry, and marijuana's place in the war on drugs. Although all three of these factors are important, the remainder of the article addresses the rural setting for marijuana growing. Among the factors that must be considered in the study of drugs in rural areas are geographical isolation, the urban bias in social science research, and the nature of the rural culture. The latter is characterized by suspicion of outsiders, suspicion of government, the tendency to withhold negative information about the community and its residents, and the informal nature of rural life. The study also found that in the context of the drug industry in rural areas, there is a low incidence of violence although guns are plentiful. This is probably due to the fact that in the rural culture, guns are used primarily for hunting and sport. 48 references

Date Published: January 1, 1993