“Political Cannabis” or “Medicinal Cannabis?”: An Australian News Framing Analysis

Hannah Adler, Monique Lewis


This study investigates the framing of medicinal cannabis (MC) in 300 Australian online news stories published on ABC Online News and News.com.au from 2014–2021. Using the theoretical frameworks of countervailing powers and biocommunicability, we find that Australian online news reports about MC have privileged the voices of patients, familial caregivers, and politicians, over those from medicine or science. Cannabis is most frequently framed as a legitimate therapeutic option, with positive anecdotal evidence to support its use, while carrying strong support from political elites. MC is positioned as an issue that is not just health specific, but also cultural, economic, and, largely, political, promulgating cannabis as an issue of public importance. Overall, it was found that in these news stories, patients and caregivers were given power and influence to heroize and legitimize MC, with support from political elites to frame the viability of cannabis as a medicine.


medicinal cannabis, countervailing powers, biocommunicability, news reporting, health communication

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