This article aims to discuss the use of the word “skunk” in contemporary discourse as short‐hand for premium quality, indoor‐grown cannabis. Skunk, as used in this way, is a contested term that many cannabis users reject. The purpose of the article is to draw attention to some practical implications of this semantic dispute for academic research and for policy development.
The authors draw on qualitative data generated during an online survey project examining UK cannabis markets. Findings discussed are contextualised by reference to use of the word skunk in public discourse through the media and policy documents.
The uncritical use of the word “skunk” by researchers, the media and others can pose problems, particularly where the use and implied meaning of the word is rejected (as it is amongst a segment of the cannabis using population). Attempts to acquire or disseminate knowledge, or to develop or enact policy about cannabis use and distribution in the UK may encounter significant problems if attention is not paid to this issue.
The article offers a view of the impact of the increased and uncritical public use of the word “skunk” on those who may be of particular concern to policy makers and academic researchers: those who are most involved with cannabis (e.g. heavier users, cannabis connoisseurs and cannabis growers).
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