Rhetorical and regulatory boundary-work: The case of medical cannabis policy-making in Israel

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Recent studies have explored how professionals draw boundaries to reach workable solutions in conflictual and contested areas. Yet they neglected to explore the relationships and dynamics between how boundaries are demarcated in rhetoric and in policy. This article examines these relationships empirically through the case of medical cannabis (MC) policy-making in Israel. Drawing on interviews with key stakeholders in the MC policy field, formal policy documents, and observations of MC conferences, this article sheds light on the dynamics between rhetorical boundary-work and what we term regulatory boundary-work, namely setting rules and regulations to demarcate boundaries in actual practice. Results show how certain definitions of and rationales for a discursive separation between “medical” and “recreational” cannabis and between cannabis “medicalization” and “legalization” prevailed and were translated into formal policy, as well as how stakeholders’ reactions to this boundary-work produced policy changes and the shifting of boundaries. Both rhetorical and regulatory boundary-works emerge as ongoing contested processes of negotiation, which are linked in a pattern of reciprocal influence. These processes are dominated by certain actors who have greater power to determine how and why specific boundaries should be drawn instead of others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Boundary-work
  • Israel
  • Legalization
  • Medical cannabis policy
  • Medicalization
  • Qualitative research methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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