Recreational cannabis use and identity formation: a collective memory work study

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Until quite recently, cannabis was the most widely used illicit drug globally. Using collective memory work, this study focuses on experiences of cannabis use as part of young persons’ deviant leisure repertoire and explores its role in identity formation processes. The study included a group process of analyzing our own memories of early experience of cannabis use, as well as analysis of the group research meetings themselves. Three themes emerged from the analysis: 1. The construction of cannabis as both cool and dangerous; 2. Smoking cannabis for the first time as a rite of passage; 3. Cannabis smoking as an extraterritorial space that allows exploration and identity formation in adolescence/early adulthood. A fourth theme that emerged from the analysis of the group meetings is cannabis use as part of identity work in adulthood. The study demonstrates that the label “cannabis user” has had an important role in our identity formation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)325-341
Number of pages17
JournalWorld Leisure Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Cannabis use
  • collective memory work
  • deviant leisure
  • identity formation
  • purple leisure

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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