3 years ago

The three betrayals of the medical cannabis growing activist: From multiple victimhood to reconstruction, redemption and activism

While cannabis has been widely used in the UK for over 50 years, it is only in recent decades that domestic cultivation has become established. Public concern, media reporting and policing policy has emphasised the role of profit motivated criminal organisations often working on a large scale and with coerced labour. However, increasingly, another population are growing for medical reasons, to help themselves and others treat or manage difficult, poorly understood, or incurable conditions. Our study sought to further understand the motives, techniques and interactions of cannabis cultivators through interviews with 48 growers and supplementary ethnographic work. As well as those motivated to grow for personal use, social and commercial supply purposes we identified a cohort growing to provide themselves and others with cannabis used for therapeutic purposes. This paper draws primarily on interviews with a sub-group of sixteen medically-motivated growers who were not only involved in treatment, but also embraced the label “activist”. Rather than develop techniques of deception they were organising to effect a change in legislation. Rejecting the image of criminal perpetrators, they presented themselves as victims of unjust government policy, an indifferent medical establishment, and brutal and immoral criminal markets. Through cultivation, association, self-healing and apomedication, they have found voice and are shifting the debate over the status of growers and of cannabis itself. The ambiguity of their position as both producers and patients challenges the assumptions underlying legal distinctions between suppliers and users, with potentially profound implications for policy.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0955395917303602

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