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Subst Use Misuse. 2020 Mar 23:1-4. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2020.1741639. [Epub ahead of print]

What Can we Learn from the English-Language Media Coverage of Cannabis Legalization in Canada?

Author information

1
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada.
2
School of Social Work, University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada.
3
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.

Abstract

Background: In October 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize cannabis. However, at this stage in the implementation process, it can be challenging to get a sense of the outcomes of this policy shift - hence why we turned to media. Purpose/objectives: We present the results of a qualitative content analysis conducted on the media coverage between October 2018 and April 2019. Methods: We used Google News and ProQuest database to complete our search. We included online media articles published between October 2018 and April 2019 in English. This left us with 81 eligible articles. These articles were analyzed by blending deductive and inductive approaches. Results: The articles were grouped into 5 categories: 1) housing, 2) access, 3) workplace, 4) driving, and 5) public consumption. Each category was then analyzed to identify emerging themes across news stories. Overall, we found that non-governmental actors such as landlords and employers were given a great deal of flexibility to introduce overly broad and restrictive regulations that disproportionately impact various communities. We also found that emphasis was placed on banning cannabis in various spheres of life as opposed to adapting to the new reality that cannabis is now legal. Conclusion: Real-time observations are critically needed to better understand the impact of policy implementation across the three levels of government: federal, provincial and territorial, and municipal. Our findings suggest that media coverage analysis can help us understand and track issues as they arise.

KEYWORDS:

Canada; cannabis; cannabis legalization; content analysis; media

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