Medicineworld.org: Cannabis Use On Vacation And Daily Life
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Cannabis Use On Vacation And Daily Life
Don't be surprised if some of your colleagues and acquaintances aren't exactly forthcoming about how they spent their summer vacations.
One particular brand of "deviance tourism" that may be gaining in popularity, Santos said, is travel to such locales as Amsterdam and Morocco to consume marijuana or hashish.
Photo by Yaniv Belhassen
One particular brand of such tourism that may be gaining in popularity, Santos said, is travel to such locales as Amsterdam and Morocco to consume marijuana or hashish. Santos is a co-author with her doctoral student, Yaniv Belhassen, and Natan Uriely of "Cannabis Use in Tourism: A Sociological Perspective," published in the recent issue of the journal Leisure Studies. The article is based on work Belhassen completed for his master's thesis at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, with Uriely, a professor of hotel and tourism management at Ben-Gurion.
"The study focuses on the relationship between cannabis use in tourism and everyday life," said Belhassen, who completed his doctoral requirements this summer and has accepted a faculty position at Ben-Gurion.
"Nowadays, smoking cannabis has become much more commonplace in the everyday leisure time of many individuals in Western societies, leading contemporary studies to point to a process of normalization of the use of cannabis, along with other recreational drugs," Belhassen said. The premise of our study was that the consumption of cannabis in tourism should be examined in light of this normalization process.
"We can't ignore the normalization aspect," he added. "People use it more and more as a recreational drug. And I think that the old scientific framework of judging cannabis only in terms of deviance and addiction is wrong".
Santos said the study also represents a departure from the way researchers look at factors affecting travelers' patterns and behaviors.
"Traditional tourism doesn't look at daily life," she said. "It looks at a tourist's activities, or when you're in a touristy setting. It's very decontextualized".
The current study is part of a larger body of research funded by the Israeli Anti-Drug Authority to determine, in part, whether a "corridor" effect occurs among individuals who experiment with cannabis on vacation. In other words, Belhassen said, they wanted to find out if those who experiment with marijuana in the coffee houses of Amsterdam (where cannabis can be purchased and consumed legally) - or elsewhere on vacation - are inclined to continue to use the drug when they return home.
Besides Amsterdam and Morocco, Santos and Belhassen said popular cannabis-tourism destinations include the beaches of Sinai, in Egypt; the small village of Melana, in northern India; Jamaica; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Vancouver, Canada.
Belhassen said the research was undertaken as an attempt to "map out the motives of those who consume cannabis on vacation, while taking into consideration the role of cannabis in their daily life." The study also considered social forces that affect individuals' behavior on vacation and back at home.
It was based on ethnographic data that included in-depth interviews with 18 people (most of them Israelis), along with participant observations in various locations throughout the world and unofficial interviews in those locations.
Overall, the researchers discovered a broad, highly individualistic set of motivations for cannabis use at home and abroad. However, they were able to identify four main motives shared by the travelers interviewed: experimentation, pleasure and diversion-seeking, quest for "cannabis authenticity" and purchasing.
Members of the first category of cannabis users were motivated mainly by the novelty of trying the drug in a "safe" environment, where it was considered morally acceptable and legal.
Among members of that group, Belhassen said, "one may argue that the tourist's experimentation on vacation is actually a functional means to maintain the social order in the tourist's country of origin since it enables the individual to try the forbidden drug away from home without breaking the norms that govern his/her society".
"Short-term tourists who try cannabis for the first time in a coffee shop in Amsterdam, for example, are most likely not to continue smoking in their daily life," he said. On the other hand, "we found that in the case of long-term travelers, such as backpackers, who start consuming cannabis while traveling, there is a tendency to continue to do it in their leisure time after coming back home".
For those tourists with purely recreational or pleasure-seeking motives, the researchers found what they call a "leisure behavioral continuum".
"In other words," Belhassen said, "those tourists already associate cannabis as a recreational product before going on vacation since they perceive cannabis usage as a fun activity." Such tourists, he said, regard cannabis as a "complementary product of fun-seeking" in the vacation environment.
"We found that those who already consume cannabis in their leisure time will consume cannabis more extensively while on vacation. For some of them, the accessibility in some resorts - even if technically illegal - plays an important role in their decision-making (when choosing vacation destinations). We see the consequences of this growing demand for cannabis among middle-class tourists in many resorts around the world".
The third type of tourists categorized by the researchers were those seeking "authentic" experiences.
"In this case, the tourists are motivated by the quest to see the sources of the cannabis industry and culture - for example, visiting Melana or the Rif mountains in Morocco, or attending the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam," Belhassen said. People traveling to the village in India indicated they were interested in visiting the place where "Melana Cream," a well-known brand of hashish, is produced. In Morocco, travelers said they wanted to see the cannabis plantations and factories where a famous type of hashish is produced. Others were drawn to Amsterdam's famous annual event, the Cannabis Cup, which features a competition among growers, and moreover functions as a celebration of the culture.
The final motivational category designated by the researchers includes tourists who wished to purchase cannabis in another country, where it is legal or easy to acquire. For example, they noted, German tourists interviewed indicated they had traveled to the Netherlands and returned to Germany the same or next day, primarily to buy cannabis.
Besides filling a practical need, Belhassen said, "the ritual of traveling to the Netherlands in order to buy cannabis fulfills the need for an inversion of ordinary life".
Because of the study's limitations - sample size, heterogeneity of experiences reported and methodology - Santos, Belhassen and Uriely noted that the research did not allow for statistical generalizations for all tourists and/or destinations. However, they believe the study provides a framework for further study of this topic, which, to date has been "under-explored" in the tourism literature.
Posted by: Janet Source
Did you know?
Don't be surprised if some of your colleagues and acquaintances aren't exactly forthcoming about how they spent their summer vacations. Those who appear to have a don't-ask, don't-tell policy when it comes to discussing details of their trips to certain locations in Asia, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, South America and elsewhere abroad may be among a sub-set of travelers engaging in so-called "deviance" tourism.
Medicineworld.org: Cannabis Use On Vacation And Daily Life
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