When U of T Scarborough’s Rachel Goffe visited Montego Bay, Jamaica, a couple of years ago, a friend pointed out a patch of bright lights where legal cannabis was being grown. The use of lights to grow cannabis is typically associated with indoor illegal growing practices in North America.
“If you are growing for the export market, you have to protect your crop from contamination by other strains of existing ganja. The use of greenhouses and lights underscore that legal cannabis is something different,” says Goffe, an assistant professor in the department of human geography at U of T Scarborough.
During that time, CAFE, a popular illegal cannabis dispensary chain, was shut down in downtown Toronto with the sight of another physical barrier – large concrete blocks standing in front of its doors.
“We have this idea that legalization involves the removal of barriers, but there is also this process of building a barrier between existing producers and their entry into the legal market,” Goffe says.
The events informed Goffe’s new project, “From Ganja to Cannabis: Racialized Geographies of (Il)licit Drug Supply, from Jamaica to Canada,” which will look at how physical, social and political barriers are built by the Jamaican, Canadian and international regulatory frameworks of legal cannabis.
Goffe’s project will be funded with the help of the Connaught New Researcher Award, which supports new tenure stream faculty members at the University of Toronto to develop strong research programs and increase their competitiveness for external funding. Each year, up to $1 million is awarded through the program as part of U of T’s mission to fuel its research and innovation efforts.
Goffe’s research lens primarily focuses on how traditions and practices grounded in anti-colonialism become delegitimized through discourses of race and gender. Her earlier research looked at emerging policy to curtail squatter settlements in Jamaica.
“For this research, I’m interested in how the idea of contamination shapes the technologies of legalization,” Goffe says. “This includes technologies that allow the product to be traced from the seed to the consumer. How do those technologies, and the investment they require, come to shape new landscapes of production and policing?”
Current research in Jamaica focuses on how legalization structures exclude people who grow illicit ganja from the legal market. Goffe explains that she wants to talk to people about existing economic, spiritual and medicinal uses and how they are being reshaped by new technologies and state practices to protect legal cannabis.
“The plan is to go to Jamaica and build relationships with people who have been working on questions of inclusion and small-scale growers,” Goffe says.
As long as the pandemic permits, Goffe hopes to travel to Jamaica to start her research during the winter break. The Connaught New Researcher Award will not only help with travel costs but make it possible to hire research assistants in Toronto and Jamaica.
This year, funding will be split between 54 faculty members across various disciplines to advance their research goals. In total, nine of those faculty members are from U of T Scarborough.
Take a look at the full list of the Connaught New Researcher Award winners from U of T Scarborough:
Blair Armstrong (Dept. of Psychology) - “Understanding How Instruction Impacts Learning to Read”
Anita Benoit (Dept. of Health & Society) - “Food and Indigenous Determinant of Health”
Rachel Goffe (Dept. of Human Geography) - ““From Ganja to Cannabis: Racialized Geographies of (Il)licit Drug Supply, from Jamaica to Canada,”
Angelina Grigoryeva (Dept. of Sociology) - “New Money in the New Economy: The Shift to Stock Compensation and Wealth Inequality”
Elliot Leffler (Dept. of Arts, Culture & Media) - “The 2022 Oberammergau Passion Play: An Ethnographic Study of Theatre-Making and Community Dialog”
Andrew McDougall (Dept. of Political Science) - “Canadian Constitutional Politics in Transition: From Crisis to Stabilization”
Nandita Vijaykumar (Dept. of Computer and Mathematical Sciences) - “Accelerating Robotic Tasks in Resource-Constrained Autonomous Vehicles”
Shana Ye (Dept. of Historical and Cultural Studies) - “Sexing the Empire: The Economy of Sexuality and the Rise of Global China”
Yun William Yu (Dept. of Computer and Mathematical Sciences) - “Development of a Long-read Haplotype Phasing Methods and Theory”