Of the approximately 391,000 species of plants cataloged by Western science, perhaps none has been as controversial as Cannabis sativa L. Likely originating in central Asia, Cannabis has co-evolved with humans over the millennia and is now found on every continent, thanks, in part, to its weedy nature, versatility, and demonization. Given Cannabis’ longstanding use by humans (perhaps as long as alcohol), its demonstrated versatility (as a source of food, raw material, medicine, and psychoactive effects), its economic value, its central role in demarcating and persecuting the Other, and changing legal status, Cannabis, in much of the world, has moved from a topic readily discounted or stigmatized by worn clichés and stereotypes, to a field of rigorous and systematic study with the potential for profound sociocultural implications. In this course, we will explore these long-standing utilitarian and controversial relationships between humans and Cannabis, from small-scale societies to nation-states, through time and into the future. Using an anthropological approach, we will examine Cannabis’ role in culture-specific contexts, engage in ethnological comparison, and question long held assumptions and myths. Is Cannabis, as opponents have claimed, reallythat bad so as to warrant prohibition and persecution? Do the claims and promises of Cannabis’ properties and virtues, as espoused by its proponents, really hold up to scrutiny? As with most things in life, cultural context matters and the truth likely lies somewhere in between these dichotomous positions.
Sage, Clark, "SOC 390A Cannabis Cultures Sage Spring 2023" (2023). Course Syllabi. 206, Scholarly and Creative Work from DePauw University.