The social supply of cannabis among young people in Australia

Cannabis is the most prolifically used illicit drug in Australia, however, there is a gap in our understanding concerning the social interactions and friendships formed around its supply and use.

Social supply of cannabis in Australia

Australian retail markets for most illicit drugs, including cannabis, are based significantly upon friendships and occur in closed settings. This has been described as ‘lounge room’, as opposed to ‘street’, dealing (Nicholas 2008). Similar observations have been made in other countries, and in the UK the term ‘social supply’ was coined to describe this aspect of the drug market where a supplier who is not considered to be a ‘drug dealer proper’ brokers, facilitates or sells drugs, for little or no financial gain, to friends and acquaintances (Hough et al. 2003). In this qualitative and quantitative study, a convenience sample of 200 cannabis users aged between 18 and 30 years were interviewed in Perth (n=80), Melbourne (n=80) and Armidale (NSW; n=40). They were recruited online and through the mainstream street press, flyers, and snowballing. Participants mostly described a closed market characterised by high levels of trust between consumers and suppliers already known to each other at the level of adjacent pairs or small group networks, typically selling in private. Their qualitative accounts of what happened last time they scored or obtained cannabis provided rich descriptions of the process of obtaining cannabis for these young users. Although participants often described their main cannabis supplier as ‘a friend’, roughly three-fifths reported this relationship was a friendship first and two-fifths reported it was a supply relationship first. Overall, 94 percent of the sample had ever supplied cannabis and 78 percent had done so in the past six months. Although most people who engaged in supply understood that their activities would be regarded as such in law, most did not consider themselves to be a dealer. The findings have implications for the policing of social supply drug markets, the public education of participants in the social supply market and how social supply offences are dealt with in law.

An evaluation of the impact of changes to cannabis law in WA - Summary of Year 1 findings

Plain English summary and implications for police prepared by Roger Nicholas.

Application of new DNA markers for forensic examination of Cannabis sativa seizures

Developmental validation of protocols and a genetic database

While Cannabis sativa has many industrial and therapeutic uses, drug varieties of C. sativa remain Australia?s most frequently used illicit drug. It is widely presumed that organised crime groups largely supply the domestic black market for C. sativa. However, law enforcement agencies are often unable to link producers operating in suspected syndicates or to determine whether crops of legalised fibre varieties are being used for the covert production of drug varieties of the plant.

An evaluation of the Standardised Field Sobriety Tests for the detection of impairment associated with cannabis with and without alcohol

Reports indicate that in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, 23.5% of drivers in fatal accidents had consumed drugs other than alcohol, and that 29.1% of drivers had a Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05% or higher. Alcohol has been detected in combination with drugs in almost 10% of cases. Cannabis was most prevalent among drugs other than alcohol detected in specimens (13.5%). The combination of drugs as an influence on road traffic accidents is becoming a growing concern and research has been conducted to identify how these drugs impair performance. In Victoria, Standardised Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) have been introduced as means of testing for impairment in drivers who have consumed drugs other than alcohol. The use of SFSTs, although designed for the detection of alcohol-intoxicated drivers (up to 0.08%), has been implemented in programs for the detection of drugs other than alcohol. The present study had several aims: to examine the effects of cannabis and cannabis together with alcohol on driving performance; to examine the effects of cannabis and alcohol on SFSTs performance; to examine the efficiency of SFSTs to predict driving performance associated with the administration of cannabis and alcohol; to examine any differences between the effects of cannabis and alcohol on performance in regular cannabis users and non-regular cannabis users; and to examine any differences between SFSTs ratings by researchers and SFSTs ratings by police officers in order to identify the inter-rater reliability of SFSTs.

The policing implications of cannabis, amphetamine & other illicit drug use in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities

Concerned about the likely impacts of heavy cannabis use in rural and remote communities and recognising the need to equip police with advice on ways to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the National Drug Law Enforcement Fund commissioned a 12-month national study. NDLERF tasked the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Criminology, to examine issues associated with the policing of cannabis, amphetamine and other illicit drug use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in rural and remote areas. This report summarises the findings from that study. The overall aims of the project were to: i) enhance the law enforcement sector's understanding of the extent and nature of illicit drug use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; ii) identify good policing practice to help prevent and to minimise the harms resulting from illicit drug use; and iii) produce guidelines on the implementation of good practice.

An evaluation of the impact of changes to cannabis law in WA - Summary of Year 1 findings

This is a summary report on the first phase of four of seven sub-studies of a larger project funded to evaluate the impact of changes to cannabis law in Western Australia on cannabis use, the drug market, law enforcement, knowledge and attitudes, and cannabis-related harms. The evaluation investigates: police implementation of the changes; drug market effects; impact on regular cannabis users, population prevalence, knowledge and attitudes regarding cannabis and the law; effect on school children; effect on apprehended cannabis users; and population impact on health problems associated with cannabis use.