Seeking Funding for PhD researching women, cannabis and menopause.
I have been excepted on an Anthropology PhD at Kent University. Unfortunately, but not unsurprising, the SeNNS funding was not forthcoming meaning I need to seek other avenues to fund this project. I am open to suggestions.
Drawing on medical anthropology, sociology and human geography this interdisciplinary PhD aims to reveal the role cannabis plays in female health and wellbeing in the 21st century. More specifically, how women are using cannabis to medicate the symptoms of peri menopause and menopause.
Discoveries in the pharmacology of phytocannabinoids (the active chemicals abundant in female cannabis flowers) over the past 70 years and how they interact with human physiology have revealed a wealth of therapeutic benefits. However, the commercialisation of the human-cannabis relationship is far outpacing any research into the behaviours, beliefs, rituals and values associated to that relationship. Qualitative research into the cultivation and consumption of this ubiquitous plant medicine remains largely unrepresented in this fast changing landscape.
We know some animal and plant species have shared the billing in the evolutionary story of humanity over the last tens of thousands of years. It is likely that cannabis is one such co-evolutionary species. Recognising the agency and autonomy of another species in relationship with humans is the beginning point of any mutispecies, more-than-human story. Whilst it is likely that women having been using cannabis to medicate the symptoms of menstruation and menopause for thousands of years it is only now with global policy reforms governing access to cannabis that this vital relationship is slowly revealing itself in public discourse. Women are beginning to speak out about how cannabis helps with the often debilitating symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause. It is essential that their voices are amplified to inform health practices and provide guidance for a range of health practitioners and policy makers in this new and burgeoning field of medicine.
This research will ask the fundamental questions
- Do women who use cannabis for peri-menopause and menopause perceive the plant as having its own agency?
- Has their relationship with cannabis changed either physically or emotionally over their life course?
- How does the relationship differ between a region where cannabis is more politically and socially acceptable (Canada) with a region where it is not (UK)
I will draw on my ethnographic training and experience to collect qualitative data from a small cohort of women based in two locations — UK and Canada.
I have chosen the two locations purposefully. Recreational and medical use of cannabis in Canada was legalised in 2018. In contrast, the current UK government holds steadfast in its rejection of a shift towards more liberal policy reforms governing our relationship with cannabis. However, the rise in popularity of the cannabinoid Cannabidiol (CBD) has provided a socially acceptable entry point into discussions about cannabis use in the UK.
My methods will include participant observation, unstructured and semi structured interviews, and a survey. These methods are the most suitable as they will reveal the subjective lived experience of my participants through their own narratives. These narratives will provide a rich understanding of the role cannabis plays in their health and wellbeing practices. The shared knowledge from this project could unlock the potential for longitudinal studies looking at the relationship between cannabis use and a whole variety of health and wellbeing practices . Furthermore, this research could offer a very real perspective on the agency a plant like cannabis exerts in its shared existence with humans on this planet.