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

Klein, Axel and Potter, Gary Richard (2018) The three betrayals of the medical cannabis growing activist : from multiple victimhood to reconstruction, redemption and activism. International Journal of Drug Policy, 53. pp. 65-72. ISSN 0955-3959

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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.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
International Journal of Drug Policy
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in International Journal of Drug Policy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in International Journal of Drug Policy, 53, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.12.004
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? medical cannabismedical marijuanacannabis cultivationactivismapomedicationdrug policy reformhealth policymedicine (miscellaneous) ??
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Deposited On:
06 Dec 2017 09:00
Last Modified:
28 Jan 2024 00:30