When I began my research on medical cannabis in the summer of 2008, I was determined to step out beyond my ‘comfort zone’, to challenge my assumptions and initial skepticism about medical cannabis. I have done this by traveling to medical cannabis states and doing all different kinds of research. While my favorite methods include field research and participant-observation, I have done interview, surveys, attended all kinds of meetings, educated myself through ongoing classes (Oaksterdam basic and advanced weekends, all those Patients Out Of Time Meetings), and generally tried to insert myself into this rich and strange world of medical (and now legal) cannabis. This approach has yielded countless insights about my own biases concerning cannabis, how others approach cannabis in different ways than myself, and on a macro level how to approach going forward socially and legally. I feel that if you can approach your project with this sense of openness and fundamental curiosity it will become something you will really enjoy doing.
Here are some examples of things I think could work out well. One of the things we are missing in teaching this class online is watching videos. There are all kinds of interesting videos on cannabis available, from ‘Adam Ruins Everything’ on Netflix to Frontline episodes (The Pot Republic) to Cheech and Chong films. Documentaries to popular culture. Tons of stuff out there! So one thing you could do is to find one or more of these and write up an analysis of it (them). Find something, could be mainstream or obscure, and tell me all about it.
Another idea includes local field research. Have you ever seen (and smelled) a live cannabis plant? If this is something you would like to do you could visit Wash Hydro in Washington DC (2318 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20018, relatively near the Dupont Circle Metro) if you are 21 or older and check it out. The first time I saw live plants was in Amsterdam in 1995–the Hash, Marijuana, and Hemp Museum had a live garden in their cellar.
Part of this project involves questioning yourself and your interests in cannabis. Obviously you were curious enough to take the class; I’ve provided some information, maybe an elementary framework of understanding. What is your next step? What topic is intriguing enough for you to take it further?
The only requirement is that the write up of whatever you do has to be at least 5 full pages–minimum. It may take more–you will decide! This project is wide open–it will be what you make it.
Frontline episode “The Pot Republic”.