M. Newhart and W. Dolphin, "The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience" (Routledge, 2018)

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Medical marijuana laws have spread across the U.S. to all but a handful of states. Yet, eighty years of social stigma and federal prohibition creates dilemmas for patients who participate in state programs.

Michelle Newhart and William Dolphin's The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience (Routledge, 2018) takes the first comprehensive look at how patients negotiate incomplete medicalization and what their experiences reveal about our relationship with this controversial plant as it is incorporated into biomedicine. Is cannabis used similarly to other medicines? Drawing on interviews with midlife patients in Colorado, a state at the forefront of medical cannabis implementation, this book explores the practical decisions individuals confront about medical use, including whether cannabis will work for them; the risks of registering in a state program; and how to handle questions of supply, dosage, and routines of use.

Individual stories capture how patients redefine and reclaim cannabis use as legitimate―individually and collectively―and grapple with an inherently political identity. These experiences help illustrate how stigma, prejudice, and social change operate.

By positioning cannabis use within sociological models of medical behavior, Newhart and Dolphin provide a wide-reaching, theoretically informed analysis of the issue that expands established concepts and provides new insight on medical cannabis and how state programs work.

Lucas Richert is an associate professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He studies intoxicating substances and the pharmaceutical industry. He also examines the history of mental health.

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