Rural livelihood strategies that engage in criminalised activities and hidden economies are an important, yet understudied, aspect of achieving economic diversification. This paper discusses findings from a project that examined the role and importance of cannabis cultivation, as a criminalised cash crop, in Lesotho. The research employed a multi-strategy approach that combined qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Cannabis income was found to play a very important role in economic and livelihood diversification in the study area. The paper concludes that cannabis production, as an extra-legal livelihood strategy, should be viewed by policy makers using a livelihoods focus, rather than a criminal one, if rural smallholders are not to be further marginalised by drug control policies.
Keywords: cannabis, Lesotho, political ecology, extra-legal livelihood
How to Cite:
Bloomer, J., (2009) “Using a political ecology framework to examine extra-legal livelihood strategies: a Lesotho-based case study of cultivation of and trade in cannabis”, Journal of Political Ecology 16(1), 49-69. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/v16i1.21691