The objective of this study was to systematically examine predominant themes within mainstream media reporting about marijuana use in Canada. To ascertain the themes present in major Canadian newspaper reports, a sample (N = 1999) of articles published between 1997 and 2007 was analyzed. Drawing from Manning’s theory of the symbolic framing of drug use within media, it is argued that a discourse of ‘privileged normalization’ informs portrayals of marijuana use and descriptions of the drug’s users. Privileged normalization implies that marijuana use can be acceptable for some people at particular times and places, while its use by those without power and status is routinely vilified and linked to deviant behavior. The privileged normalization of marijuana by the media has important health policy implications in light of continued debate regarding the merits of decriminalization or legalization and the need for public health and harm reduction approaches to illicit drug use.
Haines-Saah, R.J., Johnson, J.L., Repta, R., Ostry, A., Young, M.L., Shoveller, J., Sawatzky, R., Greaves, L., Ratner, P.A. (2014) The privileged normalization of marijuana use – an analysis of Canadian newspaper reporting, 1997–2007, Critical Public Health, 24:1, 47-61, DOI: 10.1080/09581596.2013.771812
Critical Public Health
The privileged normalization of marijuana use – an analysis of Canadian newspaper reporting
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