A Study with a Group of UK Researchers

Parker in 1998 completed a study with a group of UK researchers which established a hypothetical framework, which they suggest that use of some illegal drugs like cannabis, amphetamine and ambiguously ecstasy have become ‘normalised’. Throughout this essay there will be a discussion on this idea and how valid it is in society. The main body of the essay looks at the meaning of the term ‘normalised’ from a historical and contemporary perspective. After discussing the meaning and history of normailisation there will be an analysis on how valid the idea of normalisation is.

finally, there will be a discussion on reasons why cannabis has been normalised

In 1995 Howard parker and his researchers produced a normalisation thesis, with the theory that illicit drugs are not as criminalised as once thought. They maintained that that illegal drugs are a part of culture in youths recreationally rather than problematic Howard parker et al (1995) have implemented an understanding of our knowledge of the normalisation thesis.

They argue that illicit drugs are not as criminalised as once thought. This is not through societies laws, but A sign of deviant behaviour in relation to crime, they argue that illegal drugs are a part of culture in youths recreationally rather than problematic. Parker et al also argues that eventually all young adults who had not experienced drugs would then be the minority and would therefore be classed as deviants among their peers.

The concept of drug normalization has become a popular notion to describe recreational rather than problematic drug use.

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The theory possesses flexibility and is attractive as it can be used to support opposing positions in the drug debate. It comfortably fits into drug prevention policy to account for increased drug consumption, so supporting more punitive controls. At the same time greater drug availability and widespread coverage of drug issues within the media and popular culture suggest that drug use is no longer a deviant practice, but an activity undertaken by ordinary people. Contradiction at the centre of the term’s application: in academic terms it offers an explanation for non-deviant drug use, whilst the media tends to focus on the sensation and scandal of illegal drugs to reinforce the label of the drug user as ‘other’.

Normalisation is the real key here. The term itself means to take something from the fringe and bring it into the vernacular and mind of a populous, thus making it ‘normal’ and common. Cannabis has been a part of the world for thousands of years, both cannabis and opium were well established in prehistoric culture and humanity. For example, in China there has been a continuous history of cannabis cultivation for about 6000 years. From discovered remains of these drugs there is proof that these drugs are some of the oldest cultivated plants associated with civilisation.

Normalisation dates back into Britain as far back as the Victorian era. and, have completed historical analysis which suggests that two aspects of drug normalisation were apparent during the Victorian period. Chemists in the Victorian era had their own patent medicines made themselves, Also, there is evidence of recreational drug use among people in society. The main drug which was normalised in society was a drug called laudanum. This was an opiate based drug which consisted of opium, wine and spices. The drug name ‘laudanum’ is a Latin name which in English means ‘something to be praised’ (Levinthal, 1985). In the Victorian era too, it was widely available and easy to access drugs, in places shops such as grocers, chemists, general stores it was available to buy drugs such as opium and cannabis with no restriction.

Self-medication was also accepted in society, along with the cultivation of opium and hemp in Britain, it was so accepted in society that it became a celebrated feature of British life. Major events hosted by the society of arts or the Caledonian horticulture society hosted events which had competitions with financial rewards for the best opium lettuce for example . In more modern times in society the first modern sociological application of the term ‘normality’ with reference to drug normalization was put forward by Alfred R Lindesmith who argued that theories of drug use ‘tend to be moralistic rather than scientific’. He accused drug prohibitionists at the time of defining drug users as ‘defective psychopaths’ he argued at the time that the negative and misinformed view about drug use is not only widespread among psychiatrists but is popularly held as well.

Lindensmith’s point is that people in society such as scientists, people in education and the media have constructed a ‘monstrous person’ called the drug user who is not real but a ‘figment of the imagination’. Lindensmith wanted to challenge this and to do that he looked at international data on drug use and argued that more than half of people who used drug frequently have ‘no criminal records of any kind prior to addiction. And two thirds of drug users showed no appreciable changed in their general behavior because of addiction thus he sets out the case for the normality of the drug user arguing that one of the key factors of drug use is the cultural milieu especially the culture of the group to rationalize and situate motivation for drug use. From the outset the ‘drug normalisation’ has been used as a means to critique inaccurate descriptions of drug users or, as Lindesmith (1940) states, to expose the creation of ‘dope fiend mythology’

The idea of normalisation is a valid, useful and interesting concept, because it refers human’s behaviour which shows some degree of regularity. Noted sociologist Max weber would suggest that social human actions are a set of collective and common expectations governed by an agreement on a set of formal and informal rules. So, with this understanding normalisation is not referring to actual social behaviour, because normalisation refers to a series of probable social expectations about cultural behaviour. This is where potential issues arise between dominant groups in society who wish to impose a certain set of norms in society, other minor groups think that the behaviour that they portray is different from that of the dominant culture, which in turn creates conflicts over social expectations.

As mentioned earlier parker et al (1998) set out a framework of the theory of normalisation on his book illegal leisure on page 152, they stated that their thesis they have developed refers to the use of certain drugs, primarily cannabis and drugs such as nitrites, amphetamines, LSD and ecstasy. Other hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine are not included in the thesis. Also, combination drug abusers and dependant ‘daily’ drug use isn’t included in the thesis. In the thesis parker et al argued that there are six different aspects to the normalisation thesis. They are drug availability, drug trying, drug use, being drug wise, future intentions and cultural accommodation of the illicit. These different aspects all pinpoint the suggestion that drug use has become more conventional and integrated into most adolescents’ lives .

Parker et als findings in his research towards drugs normalisation has two main findings, they have found useful statistics which stipulate that large numbers of young people who have said that they have used drugs in terms of frequency and regularity and the young people experience a change in culture to which they identify as being more drug centred. This draws in with the assertion of the government having a strict drug policy, explaining that with the increase of drug use their needs to be harsh consequences. The dominant group in society in the early 90s the conservatives, had a policy of “tackling drugs together”  in the document they asserted that problems with drug abuse and misuse is a key and rising issue. This is then continued with the following labour government who released a following document in 1998 called “Tackling Drugs Together to build a better Britain”.

Reasons why cannabis is more normalized in society is a very complex question to define, from a medical perspective there has been research which suggests that cannabis has medicinal benefits. According to a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine evaluated more than 10,000 scientific studies on the medical benefits and negative effects of marijuana. In this report they detailed all the possible benefits and likely negatives that marijuana could posses based on the type of illness. So for example, in the report it showed that people who use marijuana as an ailment for illnesses or diseases such as, chronic pain or multiple sclerosis there is research to suggest that it improves spasticity symptoms and in adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.

In the report, it also highlights that people with mental health illnesses such as bipolar disorder using cannabis near daily cannabis use may be linked to greater symptoms of bipolar disorder than non-users. There are also young peoples relaxed attitudes to cannabis, cannabis is seen by a lot of people in society, particularly young people as not a problematic or detrimental drug. According to a news report by the BBC, young people see cannabis as safer than alcohol. In the report it interviews a young woman called Faye and a young male called Darren who describes their experiences of cannabis throughout school and life. Faye is quoted as saying, “People of my generation see cannabis as safer than drinking and safer than smoking”. Also, Darren agrees with Faye that many young people see cannabis as the safer option to drinking alcohol.

“You hear how alcohol can kill, cause liver damage, affect your speech but you don’t hear that so much about weed. So, it sounds like a softer option,”. Both young adults interviewed had the same views on cannabis, that it should not be a class B drug, but a safer alternative to alcohol. In the report, Darren elaborated that cannabis is society is more normalised now, “you walk out of work or the shopping centre and there are people who sell weed and they’ll have no issue approaching you, It’s much more normalised now. People think of it as teenagers on the street corner – but it goes far beyond that, I know.”. This also ties in with Lord William Hauge’s views on cannabis. In a news article he urged Theresa May to consider legalising cannabis as the policy of war on drugs has been “comprehensively and irreversibly lost”.

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A Study with a Group of UK Researchers. (2019, Nov 20). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/parker-in-1998-completed-a-study-with-a-group-of-uk-researchers-best-essay/

A Study with a Group of UK Researchers
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