Category Archives: Policy Statement

ADTSG: Canibus Policy Statement Proposal – we need your input!

The following proposal has been posted as a google doc here. We invite you and the rest of the SMA community to contribute their input to the topics covered in this proposal by using the comment feature on the google doc. You may also add longer comments to the bottom of the document. Alternatively, you can send your thoughts via email to For more information about the SMA policy initiative, please visit:

Canibus Policy Statement Proposal

Amid rapid transformations in public opinion and governmental regulations concerning the medical and recreational consumption of Cannabis (i.e. Marijuana), there is a growing need for informed input from the scholarly community.  With expertise in comprehending tensions between different social groups, anthropologists interested in the health effects of marijuana can help to clarify the global discourse.  Thus, in preparing to draft a “Policy Statement on Cannabis” on behalf of the Society for Medical Anthropology, we are interested in soliciting ideas from SMA members regarding the crucial issues that are at stake in current debates about marijuana.  At this preliminary stage, the coordinators of this policy statement have drafted a list of topics that such a document should encompass:


(1) The history of Cannabis cultivation;

(2) consumption; and

(3) prohibition (i.e. in the U.S. this is linked to the stigmatization and marginalization of Latino and African-American groups among whom marijuana was a drug of choice in the 19th and 20th centuries);

Socio-Cultural Contexts

(4) Comparison of consumption patterns and legal regulations in different countries/societies;

(5) The importance of mind-set and social/environmental setting for perceived effects and/or significance of Cannabis (e.g. recreational vs. non-recreational contexts);

Health Science

(6) Cannabis, like other mind-altering substances, is not for everyone…i.e. for what types of people is Cannabis contraindicated?;

(7) Health hazards to adults include some lung risk, and risk of subtle, sub-clinical changes in cognitive function after extended use;

(8) Cannabis preparations are far more potent (in terms of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] content – between 10 and 25% by weight presently) than that smoked by hippies in the 1960s (about 1%). On the other hand, most users seek the same kind of high – giggles, munchies and such – so dosage reflects that tendency;

(9) Psychomotor effects during acute intoxication make it unadvisable to operate any machinery under those effects;

(10) Other pharmacologically active components of Cannabis (e.g. cannabidiol) appear to have beneficial effects on certain conditions;

(11) The developmental processes in the human brain during adolescence, in which there is a natural winnowing of less useful circuitry, may be impaired by Cannabis use during adolescence.  It is advisable to prohibit use of Cannabis before drinking age;

(12) Many varieties of chronically painful conditions (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, dwarfism, pain from war wounds or auto accidents) are mitigated effectively by use of Cannabis, and it has fewer side effects and carries less risk than the opioid analgesics (see Sanjay Gupta’s CNN “Weed” trilogy);

(13) We should drop all discussion of Cannabis as treatment for high intraocular pressure (causative factor in glaucoma). It is not nearly as effective or as convenient as the eye drops now available (e.g. Xalatan, Lumigan);

Political & Economic

(14) Emergent commercial and taxation opportunities of the “Green Rush” in new contexts of legalization (e.g. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska)

(15) The need for more academic research to counteract widespread propaganda and paranoia.

 We would appreciate any further comments or suggestions that fellow SMA members can provide either by editing the google document or emailing us at email


  • J. Bryan Page (Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Miami);
  • Marc G. Blainey (Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto)
  • Tazin Daniels (Chair of ADTSG, Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University)