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Using Children: Marijuana Grow-ops, Media, and Policy

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Abstract:

Since early 2000, media outlets in Canada have printed numerous articles about children in grow-ops. For over 15 years, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the police have used their substantial public communication resources in the form of policy directives and press releases to emphasize that marijuana grow operations are a new social problem that requires increased public awareness, law enforcement, and legal and civil regulation. Our analysis of marijuana grow operations and children emerges from analyzing 15 years (1995–2009) of newspaper articles in national, provincial, and local newspapers in British Columbia. Our analysis focuses on how social problems such as drug use and drug production are contextualized, and how systems of meaning are produced in relation to these themes. Drawing from critical and feminist perspectives, we analyze and problematize the claims made about safety, health, and risk in relation to children and grow-ops in these newspaper articles. Analyzing media reports over a designated period of time reveals how social problems emerge and how discourse develops and is acted upon. We argue that the presumed veracity of media-based claims about children and marijuana production is established by the linking of historical discourses about child saving, drugs and parenting, and racialized outsiders to emerging claims about B.C.'s marijuana grow-op business.

Keywords: Children at risk; Grow operations; Marijuana; Media; drug policy

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2011.603133

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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