New tool visualizes cannabis production in Southern Oregon

March 25, 2022

A Black-tailed Jackrabbit on East Fork Cultivars cannabis farm in Josephine County. Photo by Phoebe Parker-Shames.

A new online outreach and engagement resource developed by the Cannabis Research Center—an interdisciplinary group featuring researchers from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management (ESPM), and UC Agricultural and Natural Resources—aims to support community decision-making and dialog around cannabis land use in Southern Oregon.

Their new mapping tool, Cannabis Landscapes in Southern Oregon, outlines a recent study that found overlap and proximity of cannabis production with sensitive ecological features like headwaters streams, endangered Pacific fisher range, and Coho salmon habitat. Using an interactive ESRI StoryMap, users can examine the distribution of cannabis production in relation to protected areas, salmon habitat, and land use zoning, and compare cannabis to other private land parcels in the area.

“Facing the risk of having our work buried behind paywalls in expensive academic journals, we as researchers seek new avenues to communicate our findings and engage stakeholders,” said senior author and ESPM Professor Justin Brashares. “The storymap is a very exciting and underutilized method of engagement to do exactly that.”

Lead author Phoebe Parker-Shames, a PhD candidate in ESPM, said she designed the tool for communities in and around Josephine County, Oregon: a region with a long history of cannabis production that has seen a rapid rise since statewide legalization. The authors hope to apply their methodology and outreach approach as a model for other cannabis-producing regions.

“I really hope this tool can help people get on the same page about what’s happening in their communities so they can start to have research-informed conversations about the tradeoffs inherent in this sort of industry expansion,” she said, noting that the tool provides valuable insights into the current state and future of cannabis production.

Visit the Cannabis Research Center at Berkeley to view the online StoryMap.