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Int J Drug Policy. 2014 Jul;25(4):673-81. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.04.001. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

A dawning demand for a new cannabis policy: A study of Swedish online drug discussions.

Author information

1
Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD), Stockholm University, SE-10691 Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address: josefin.mansson@sorad.su.se.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

This study examines how online discussions on drug policy are formulating an oppositional cannabis discourse in an otherwise prohibitionist country like Sweden. The focus of the paper is to identify demands for an alternative cannabis policy as well as analysing how these demands are linked to governance.

METHODS:

The empirical material is 56 discussion-threads from the online message-board Flashback Forum that were active during the first eight months of 2012. Discourse theory was used to locate the discourse, and governmentality theory was used to locate the political belonging of the discourse.

RESULTS:

On Flashback Forum demands for a new cannabis policy are articulated in opposition to Swedish prohibitionist discourse. The oppositional discourse is constructed around the nodal points cannabis, harm, state and freedom that fill legalisation/decriminalisation/liberalisation with meaning. The nodal points are surrounded by policy demands that get their meaning through the particular nodal. These demands originate from neo-liberal and welfarist political rationalities. Neo-liberal and welfarist demands are mixed, and participants are simultaneously asking for state and individual approaches to handle the cannabis issue.

CONCLUSION:

Swedish online discourse on cannabis widens the scope beyond the confines of drug policy to broader demands such as social justice, individual choice and increased welfare. These demands are not essentially linked together and many are politically contradictory. This is also significant for the discourse; it is not hegemonised by a political ideology. The discourse is negotiated between the neo-liberal version of an alternative policy demanding individual freedom, and the welfarist version demanding social responsibility. This implies the influence of the heritage from the social-democratic discourse, centred on state responsibility, which have been dominating Swedish politics in modern times. Consequently, this study refutes that the demand for a new cannabis policy is strictly neo-liberal.

KEYWORDS:

Cannabis; Discourse; Governmentality; Internet; Neo-liberal; Welfarist

PMID:
24794114
DOI:
10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.04.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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