2015 AAA CFP: Familiar or Strange? Considering Parallels and Divergences between Alcohol and Marijuana

Call For Papers – American Anthropological Association Meeting, November 18-22, 2015, Denver, CO

Familiar or Strange? Considering Parallels and Divergences between Alcohol and Marijuana

Please Respond by Sunday, April 12

Sponsored by the Alcohol, Drug, and Tobacco Study Group (ADTSG) of the Society for Medical Anthropology, we are organizing a session on the ways that the newly experienced legality of cannabis resembles and differs from alcohol. Our session abstract reads:

This panel explores the ways in which the strange new realm of marijuana regulation and industry draws on and differs from the familiar realm of alcohol control and production. Building on the shared history of ‘controlled’ to ‘regulated’, we consider the history and context of social and legal control as well as the expressions and realities of commodification of alcohol and cannabis. Anthropology has long demonstrated that systems of social control and regulation of drugs as well as other commodities are fluid, shifting temporally and embedded in particular historical, economic, and cultural contexts. The criminalization of marijuana in the United States has been documented, for instance, to represent a confluence in the early 1900s of the medicalization of health care, a racialized and xenophobic national discourse, and the temperance and prohibition movements. Alcohol, too, experienced a similar fate in the early 1900s, but was redeemed and reclassified due to the widespread dissent against and the unintended consequences of prohibition. Classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, cannabis use remains illegal under federal law. However, widespread acceptance of use, questions about its negative health consequences, and persistent criticism on the disparate implications of criminalization in the U.S. has led to growing popular dissent and state-level efforts for legalization. The cultural and legal shift of marijuana from an illicit to a regulated drug in some U.S. states then parallels the historical oscillations of the legality of alcohol with some important differences. As of 2015, 27 U.S. states have decriminalized or legalized cannabis possession and/or medical or recreational use. Four states have legalized the sale for recreational use and initiated regulation. As these states grapple with marijuana regulation in the face of legalization, the familiar domain of alcohol is helping shape the strange new legal commodity of cannabis. State governments, the emerging cannabis industry, and citizens alike in jurisdictions with legalization are drawing from alcohol regulation and industry as a model for this new legal commodity. State alcohol control boards are taking on the task of establishing commercial licensing practices, cannabis store fronts and advertising draw on alcohol marketing strategies, and consumers are adopting the language of a legalized but controlled substance. As we meet in Denver where recreational marijuana sales have been sanctioned legally, we shall reflect on these parallels and differences with ethnographic and anthropological lenses.

Please send an abstract (no longer than 250 words) to Kristen Ogilvie atogilvie@uaa.alaska.edu by the end of the day Sunday, April 12, 2015. Invitations to participate will be sent out on Monday, April 13, to allow for registration and abstract uploading on the AAA website by the deadline of 5PM EDT on Wednesday, April 15