Negotiating Identities: Patterns of Self-presentations among Socially Integrated Cannabis Users

Abstract

Our aim is to analyze how stories on drug use, present life situation and earlier experiences structure cannabis users’ self-presentations—as
this is presented in interviews with young adults. The interviewees’ identity work takes place within a narrative terrain
including both a restrictive, official story about drugs and a liberal, subcultural story about cannabis. We identify four
dominant narratives about cannabis users: the burnt user, the irresponsible user, the responsible user and the cannabis prophet.
Some of these stories put the narrator at greater risk of condemnation, and the analysis shows how the interviewees negotiate
between the different stories. The ambiguous position of cannabis use makes it a rich, but also equivocal, resource for identity
work. Attentiveness to the individual’s present situation is essential for understanding how individuals make sense of their
past, as well as their expectations for the future.

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