An intense debate about cannabis for medical use has been going on in Denmark. We see potential users, politicians, national institutions and advocacy groups using different discourses in the debate. This poses an interesting dilemma: Who is the expert?
Danish politicians have acknowledged public opinion by implementing a four-year trial period during which doctors may prescribe medical cannabis to patients. The Danish Medicines Agency (DMA) opposes the trial, referring to insufficient scientific evidence of effects and side effects. However, citizens report cannabis to be effective with minor side effects.
We investigated what is at stake in the tension field that emerges, when alternative truth appears next to scientific evidence. Futhermore, how a public institution and private citizens using cannabis refer to different discourses and the consequences it may have regarding the constitution of experts.
To answer this, we conducted a critical discourse analysis on material collected through two focus group interviews with users of cannabis for medical purposes and one group interview with two employees from the DMA. Subsequently, we performed a textual analysis of interview transcripts, using linguistic tools of wording, cohesion and modality, in combination with intertextual analysis and presupposition. We identified discourses constituting discursive practises of the participants and furthermore investigated their mutual positioning.
Among several discourses identified, we chose to analyse the discourses of Knowledge and Risk in depth. We found that DMA primarily used the discourses concerning scientific evidence and risks of side effects. In contrast, Cannabis users acknowledged different types of knowledge including semi-scientific studies and personal experiences, and outweighed risks against benefits. Users and DMA both claimed expert positioning. Some of the discourses were tension filled, but tension appeared to be most serious at DMA who seemed to be struggling in a hegemonic battle between their own scientific discourse and an external expectation of dialogical interaction with citizens. Our findings suggest that national institutions may need to engage more actively and genuine in dialogues with citizens than hitherto in order to secure scientific communication.
|Uddannelser||Master i Professionel Kommunikation (MPK), (Masteruddannelse) Master|
|Udgivelsesdato||31 maj 2018|
|Vejledere||Birgitte Ravn Olesen|