Re: Drug Gaze

Some critical comments which came to my mind.

The construction of the marijuana in the dominant discourse, as observed in the
ongoing debate here, is that it is a gateway to hard drugs, it causes brain and
lung tissue damage and smoking it is addictive. It might be interesting to
consider the social and cultural meaning of marijuana as produced by its smokers.
However, the first thing that I thought of is all those people wearing T-shirts
with a picture of a cannabis leaf on them - not merely for the sake of
ornamentation, I guess. I assume that those people are fashion conscious and use
such clothes to manifest/construct their social identity.

Marijuana (and the marijuana leaf) signifies a certain lifestyle and a certain
set of values. Generally speaking, the predominant cultural meaning of
marijuana is (and/or traditionally has been) that of resistance or contestation
of the dominant order. Therefore marijuana is something that the dominant culture
would like to get rid of, as it wants to get rid of any oppositional meaning. So,
perhaps smoking marijuana is not fought against because of health reasons, but
because of social and cultural meanings associated with it (especially since
there seems to be no evidence that smoking marijuana poses a greater health risk
than smoking cigarettes).

If it is so, then the fact that marijuana has been legalized in Holland can be
analyzed in terms of subversion containment. In this respect, legalizing
marijuana and thus incorporating oppositional meanings of it into the dominant
culture would be a strategy to ultimately gain control over the meanings
associated with it.

I'm not an expert on Focault and haven't researched these issues, so I don't know
how valid any of my comments really is.

Katarzyna Marcinkowska


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