Sunday, October 05, 2008


This might constitute the background notes for Asterisked Assignment 11. Or maybe not, (see below).

I'm looking at an article from The Independent from last Friday. "The Big Question: Is it time the world forgot about cannabis in its war against drugs?" (McCarthy 2008). The Social Practice construct (per Fairclough) is that the possession, transmission, and cultivation of cannabis are all illegal activities in the UK and throughout most countries of the world. The circumstances of its historical illegality are singular, (Kendell).

The discourse practice of the McCarthy text is a background of mind-changes from The Independent newspaper. In 2007, (Owen) the newspaper apologized for its position, ten years earlier, of advocating the legalization of the drug. This change of mind mirrored the behaviour of the British government, which downgraded the drug from category B to category C, (which, in practical terms, meant that a possessor of the drug could not be arrested, and was likely to be dealt with by a caution), in 2004, and then reclassified it as Category B earlier this year (McCarthy).

[The discourse and social practice element could be expanded on; to say the least: the hegemonic situation with regard to cannabis could fill several volumes].

The reservation I have about using the McCarthy text for a CDA is that it might be seen as rather ambitious. I say this because the text given in the University's prepared materials is from the Daily Mail: EU enlargement 'brings HIV peril' . Analyzing a Daily Mail text on Europe and HIV for evidence of dodgy ideological content is like shooting fish in a barrel. Whereas the McCarthy text is, on first reading, a balanced and objective appraisal of the legalization debate. Perhaps that's why it would be a good idea to try it.

Fairclough, N. (1992a) Discourse and Social Change. London: Polity.

Kendell, R. E. (2003) Cannabis condemned: the proscription of Indian hemp. Addiction, 98, 143–151

McCarthy (2008),The Big Question: Is it time the world forgot about cannabis in its war against drugs? The Independent on Sunday [internet] 3rd October 2008. Available at: [Accessed at 5th October 2008].

Owen, J. (2007), Cannabis: an apology. The Independent [internet] 18th March. Available at: [Accessed at 5th October 2008].