Here I take up calls to engage in developing an “ethnobiology of us,” in which Western biota-cultural relations are centered. When Western-influenced scholars study extinct and extant cultures of cannabis cultivation, trade, and consumption in celebratory, reverential, or mundane contexts, it is crucial for appropriate self-reflective positionality to appreciate the power, persistence, and remarkable idiosyncrasy of the western socioecological worldview of cannabis. In humancannabis relations, I argue this is essential, as the Western worldview carries profound hegemonic weight, influencing preconceptions of scholars and global societies. A prevailing Western notion is that close contact with cannabis is socially legitimate only for a privileged few and otherwise harshly criminalized and stigmatized. Constructed scarcity and inequitable accessibility of this traditional and widely cultivated species and its products are ubiquitous, including near-total invisibility of wild and cultivated plots.
Drawing upon my own memories and reflections navigating multiple cannabis-related cultural frames, spanning from disgust to fear and curiosity to reverence, I will chronicle the cannabis and the various cultural frames in which it was embedded, which I have passively or actively encountered throughout my life, including in my training and practice as a geographer and medical doctor. The thematic arc has been shifting from alienating to allying with cannabis, yet, at the same time, being ever-vigilant of the official marginality of that alliance and related structural violence. To adapt to that social marginalization, I have come to accept various logics that connect cannabis with the body, stretching from spiritual and cosmological, cultural-traditional, and pharmacological-biochemical.