Legitimacy through scaremongering: the discursive role of alcohol in online discussions of cannabis use and policy
2013 (English)In: Addiction Research and Theory, ISSN 1606-6359, Vol. 21, no 6, 469-478 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In Sweden, prohibitionist drug policy has contributed to making cannabis an illegal drug, viewed as dangerous, while alcohol is considered a legitimate recreational commodity. But the official Swedish cannabis discourse is now being contested on internet. In virtual environments an often employed way to try to legitimize cannabis use is by comparing it to alcohol. This indicates the importance of analyzing how substances are attributed with meaning in various contexts. This study aims to describe and analyze the discursive role of alcohol in Swedish online discussions of cannabis use and policy. Approximately 700 alcohol-related comments, posted during one year period, were retrieved from the cannabis-section of Swedish Flashback Forum (a website open for public viewing). The sample was analyzed qualitatively with analytical tools such as nodal points, analogies, distinctions and typological examples. Two concepts, danger and discrimination, were identified as nodal points in a cannabis legalization discourse, and provided a backdrop from which comparisons between alcohol and cannabis were made meaningful. We have found that cannabis and alcohol ‘‘changed places’’ in these online discussions. The participants drew on a prohibitionist cannabis discourse but applied its arguments to alcohol; alcohol was thereby given the role of the ‘‘ideal enemy’’ while cannabis was presented as a harmless plant rejected by society on moral rather than scientific grounds. The relevance of acknowledging and reflecting upon the influence that online ‘‘talk’’ has on young people’s attitudes towards drugs is discussed.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 21, no 6, 469-478 p.
Cannabis, alcohol, internet, discourse, Flashback
Research subject Social Work
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83949DOI: 10.3109/16066359.2012.731115ISI: 000326043600005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-83949DiVA: diva2:577859
FunderForte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2006-1523