The Shifting Landscape of Cannabis in the Community: Acceptance, Anxieties and Ambiguities

Taylor, Stuart (2014). The Shifting Landscape of Cannabis in the Community: Acceptance, Anxieties and Ambiguities. In: 2014 American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting, 19-22 Nov 2014, San Francisco.


This paper presents the findings of an empirical research study conducted in the North of England which examined community knowledge and attitudes around cannabis use and cultivation. It draws on qualitative research generated from interviews and focus groups with a range of local community members. The findings identify that whilst cannabis use is seen as a regular and indeed normative feature of everyday community life, its use is far from normalised. ‘Surface attitudes’ apparent in the community appeared to indicate a general acceptance of cannabis use and cultivation. However, closer examination suggested that, for some, these attitudes in reality masked a spectrum of covert, deep rooted concerns and anxieties. The findings suggest that whilst cannabis is a drug which the community appears (or is assumed) to feel familiar with, their knowledge of its use and production are in fact limited. Individuals were often found to fill gaps in their knowledge base by drawing on wider conceptions of drug use, users, dealers and producers, resulting in a range of fears and anxieties. The paper concludes by interpreting the inferences of these trends, for the community themselves and for service provision within the locality.

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