Controversial Healing

Controversial Healing: Making Sense of Medicinal Cannabis Debates

PostDoc project hosted in ETHOS Lab
Funded by:
Carlsbergfondets postdoc-stipendier i Danmark

PostDoc Researcher:
Katrine Meldgaard Kjær, project on Twitter under @controversyheal

Project description:


The project investigates digital discussion, mobilizations and activisms leading up to the trial period for medicinal cannabis to selected patient groups, which started in January 2018. The medicinal cannabis issue has been characterized as a “war between the people and science” in public media, and I am interested in examining the implications of this assumption. I am particularly interested in the role of the relationship between new media, the digitalization of advocacy and new types of health authorities in the debate about medicinal cannabis, as well as understanding how mobilization in relation to medicinal cannabis has moved between the realms of the personal and the political in a digital age.


The project investigates a controversial topic; the scientific evidence on the effect and use of medicinal cannabis is not conclusive. Politicians have openly acknowledged that the trial period comes after a massive public push, spearheaded by celebritized figures and local activism. The project provides important knowledge about new relationships between social mobilization, political pressure and health initiatives in the contemporary welfare state.


The project will draw on a combination of archived digital data, social media data and interviews to investigate the topic from its many and diverse angles. The project uses both digital methods and ethnographic methods, and is fundamentally interested in testing and understanding the limits of interdisciplinary. Based in ETHOS, the project aims to also be fundamentally collaborative and involve both researchers and students throughout the project period.


The project will test and challenge barriers between disciplines in order to create a greater understanding of the role of social mobilizations in questions of the contemporary health politics, especially around issues that seem to be in opposition to official health guidelines.