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Cannabis-related experiences and rate of cultivation: would they change under a policy of decriminalization?

Maddox, S. and Williams, S. (1998) Cannabis-related experiences and rate of cultivation: would they change under a policy of decriminalization? Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 5 (1). pp. 47-58.

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It has been argued by many involved in the treatment and prevention of drug-related problems that policies of prohibition have been largely ineffective, that they produce a range of health, social and economic harms, and may well have contributed to an increase in the use of some illicit drugs. Policy makers in some countries are considering the adoption of strategies which aim to reduce harm without necessarily eliminating drug use. One strategy has been to decriminalize some substances. In Australia, two States have decriminalized the use of cannabis, and other states are considering this move. Fifty-five cannabis users contacted through a Western Australian university completed an anonymous questionnaire which (i) explored their experiences as cannabis users under the current policy of prohibition where any use or possession is a criminal offence; and (ii) asked for their predictions about their cannabis-related behaviour under a theoretical system of cannabis policy based on the South Australian Cannabis Expiation Notice (CEN) system. Under a CEN system, personal use, possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal use is not a criminal offence and attracts a fine. Six key areas relating to cultivation of cannabis for personal use and minimizing harm associated with cannabis use were explored. The findings suggest that under a CEN-like system: cannabis users would probably cultivate significantly more of their personal-use cannabis; cannabis users' access to other illicit drugs, and use of other licit and illicit drugs, may be reduced; and use of the oral ingestion method of administration would probably increase. However, results suggest that under a CEN-like system: a black market for cannabis would probably still exist; consumption of cannabis by cannabis users, at least initially, may increase slightly; and the system would discriminate against the poorer segments of the population. This research provides some support for the introduction of an alternative model of cannabis policy to prohibition in States that operate like Western Australia. However, the CEN system is probably not the ideal system from a harm minimization perspective.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
Copyright: Informa Healthcare
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