Inherent subjectivity

Because I live here in the Kootenays and continuously interact with residents, businesses, and communities who are being impacted by legalization, it is difficult, or impossible to remove myself, as the researcher, from the research. I am therefore both influenced by and influence the research. I therefore hold inherent subjectivity. I believe truth is relative and that it can change, depending on the context.

As an example, depending on which group I speak with, I learn different truths about the cannabis industry and how (they feel) it influences the local society and economy. While these truths may differ between institutions, they are very real to the group holding them. During early informal conversations, some prohibition era participants told me they have no interaction with organized crime in our rural area (i.e., it is not part of their business). While other people have pointed out organized crime has to exist in the illicit drug supply chain, except in some instances such as when a farmer supplies a consumer directly. Since the majority (somewhere around 80%) of the cannabis produced in the Kootenay region leaves the area, there is high probability organized crime is part of the supply chain at some point. I hear two truths: one that is generalizable to a larger area, and one that is locally specific.

A social constructionist paradigm supports the concept of Thoughtexchange for qualitatively gathering local resident’s thoughts, in order to understand patterns, and commonalities around legalization. I used a content analysis approach and created two summary (over arching) themes; Challenges and Opportunities. Within these broad categories, I identified and created new themes as they evolved, and coded subsequent thoughts accordingly. I sometimes changed the coding of a previous thought when more applicable themes surfaced. I reviewed all 251 thoughts five times (!), although admittedly, I grappled with several thoughts many more times trying to make the best categorization.