Prohibit marijuana for Canadians under 25? How about a hit of reality

Jenna2Jenna Valleriani is a PhD candidate in Sociology and the Collaborative Program in Addiction Studies. Her research looks at social movements, entrepeurship and the emergence of new industries. Her dissertation is titled, “ ‘The Green Rush’: Social Movements, Entrepreneurship and the Emerging Medical Cannabis Industry in Canada. Jenna recently published an Op Ed in the Globe and Mail discussing the proposed age restrictions on legal access to marijuana. The piece appeared on Thursday, June 30, 2016 and the complete article is available online . The following is an excerpt of the longer article.

Prohibit marijuana for Canadians under 25? How about a hit of reality

The federal government announced Thursday that it would create a task force to handle marijuana legalization. Led by former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, the task force will feature nine individuals with varying expertise. In the announcement, Health Minister Jane Philpott declared the legalization of cannabis will be “comprehensive and evidence-based”, and yet in the same breath, reminded Canadians “marijuana has negative effects on young brains and brain development in adolescence”.

What Dr. Philpott didn’t acknowledge is that this body of scientific evidence is still being debated in the scientific literature: it’s incomplete and has never actually established that marijuana is the cause in these outcomes of cognitive deficiency. We have also never established what the actual duration of that impairment may be.

Meanwhile, the protecting youth argument has become the cornerstone of what responsible and restrictive legal cannabis access will look like. However, under the guise of trying to protect young people, history illustrates we often end up criminalizing and victimizing them even further. The reiteration of this “concrete evidence” has led some to debate whether cannabis should follow provincial drinking ages, or if access should only be afforded to those who are 25 years of age and older.

Continue reading the article…

P2P: Marital Monogamy as Ideal and Practice

Every student in the Sociology PhD program at the University of Toronto completes the Research Practicum course in their second year. This course involves each student working directly on a research project with a faculty member through the various stages of research and writing while also meeting with other graduate students in the course to tackle the hurdles of clarifying, strengthening, and sharpening one’s ideas in a journal-length research article. In this series, we highlight the practicum papers that went on to become published articles, and the students who wrote them.

Green, A. I., Valleriani, J. and Adam, B. (2015), Marital Monogamy as Ideal and Practice: The Detraditionalization Thesis in Contemporary Marriages. Journal of Marriage and Family. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12277

Jenna2 Jenna was a Master’s student when she began working with Professor Adam Green as a Research Assistant on his SSHRC-funded project studying how heterosexual and same-sex spouses conceive of and structure their marriages. The next year, when she enrolled in the research practicum, she asked Professor Green if she could work with this marriage data, and if he would advise her on the project. She had already learned some of the skills she would need while she was a Research Assistant but the practicum honed the skills further. Professor Green agreed and they began what would become a three-year odyssey exploring the changing meanings of marriage and monogamy. The resulting paper was published in December 2015 in Journal of Marriage and Family.

The paper, drawing on 90 qualitative interviews with heterosexual and same-sex spouses, focuses on Giddens’ 1992 detraditionalization thesis which argues that marriage is increasingly characterized by goals of individual satisfaction and mutually-fulfilling partnerships. They found that heterosexual couples speak to a widening acceptance of diverse marital lifestyles, but have not changed their personal preferences regarding their own relationships. Of all married respondents in this study, gay men’s relationships embody most what is described in the detraditionalization thesis. While a minority of these men were committed both in the abstract and in practice to marital monogamy, the majority understood monogamy in reflexive and plastic terms, not as an ethical choice but as a flexible, pragmatic arrangement designed to suit the needs and wishes of the partners.

While the general contours of the paper were established in the course of the practicum, Jenna says that it still needed a lot of work when the practicum finished. After taking a short break from the paper, she and Professor Green began to loosely brainstorm about the findings via email, which ultimately led to them reshaping the findings and discussion collaboratively. Jenna says that it was a slow process, but that through a series of meetings and emails, it started to come together. Having learned that the Journal of Family and Marriage was looking to incorporate more qualitative studies, they decided to submit there. Their first submission came back with a request for major revisions. Jenna and Professor Green then worked more and made the paper stronger. When they resubmitted for the second time, it came back with a request for minor revisions, and later, was finally accepted!

Throughout the practicum process, Jenna says, there were many times she “had to go ‘back to the drawing board’ with encouragement from my peers, professors, and advisor, but it ultimately was an unparalleled experience which taught me practical skills I can carry forward.” While the content isn’t her current area of focus, Jenna’s experience working with Professor Green’s marriage project was, she says, extremely beneficial and helped her develop her methodology and qualitative research skills. This has been useful in her current dissertation studies where she has conducted 60 in-depth interviews to understand the issues surrounding the regulation of medical marijuana. Jenna says that the practicum process was also instrumental in teaching her how to structure an article, how to contextualize the findings, the review process and also how different audiences may receive an article.

Giddens, A. (1992). The Transformation of Intimacy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Ph.D. Candidate Jenna Valleriani writes on Medical Marijuana

Jenna Valleriani, PhD Candidate in Sociology and the Collaborative Program in Addiction Studies, regularly contributes to Lift: Canabis News Magazine. Her research looks at social movements, entrepreneurship and the emergence of new industries, focusing on the transition to the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulation in Canada. In this article, Jenna reviews the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington DC.

Canada is well represented at the semi-annual drug policy event.

Over 1,400 researchers, activists, students, patients, harm reductionists, drug users, organizations, policy makers and politicians gathered last weekend in Washington D.C for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

From November 18 – 21st, people from all over the world discussed, debated and engaged in topics from psychedelic research, to the prescription pill panic, to cannabis regulation, reflecting a diverse movement with various interests. Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the DPA, framed wider drug policy reform as a movement about freedom and liberty – and positioned cannabis regulation as central to that movement.

Each breakout session had various panels focused on cannabis and regulation around the world, covering topics such as challenges to marijuana legalization, diversity and equity in the marijuana industry, drug prevention in the age of marijuana legalization, and cannabis regulation from around the world.

With panelists such as Florencia Lemos, co-founder of the CLUC Cannabis Club in Uruguay, Vicki Hansen, a PhD Candidate from the University of the West Indies, and Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst from Transform Drug Policy in the UK – just to name a few – there were certainly a variety of voices at the table. Read the rest of the article