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Self-reported drug consumption patterns

and attitudes towards drugs

among 1333 regular cannabis users.

M. J. Atha & S. Blanchard


A sample of 1333 regular cannabis users, recruited from a pop festival, snowball samples and direct mailing, completed anonymous questionnaires about their use of all drugs.

The majority were daily cannabis users (up to 250g per month, mean 24.8g per month, mean spending £68.60, 6 joints per day). Although most users had tried other drugs, particularly hallucinogens and amphetamine, such use was typically experimental or occasional. Very few individuals were regular users of cocaine, heroin or crack Three quarters had tried LSD, just over half had tried ecstasy.

Use of most drugs was highest in the 20-30 age group. Men were heavier users of most drugs than women. This difference was greater in older age groups. Users under 20 would have first tried cannabis around 3 years earlier than users over 30. Use of all drugs except alcohol was consistently lower among students than employed or unwaged respondents. Those users who drove reported a level of accidents no higher than the general population, however those with the highest accident rates were more likely to be heavier poly-drug users.

Users convicted for cannabis offences had lower than expected incomes allowing for age, and would currently use more drugs significantly more often than those with clean records. If the proportion convicted is typical, an estimate of regular users would be around 2.75 million, consuming over 800 metric tonnes of cannabis products in a market worth £3.5 billion per year.

Cannabis prices are stable throughout the UK, with little regional difference, or differences between inner city or rural areas. The average 'street' price (for 1/8oz deals) was £4 to £4.30 per gram, varying according to variety, with 'skunk' an average £6 per gram. Moroccan cannabis resin is the most common variety. Home grown material may account for up to 20% of total UK consumption.

Respondents gave highly positive subjective ratings to cannabis, LSD, mushrooms and ecstasy, and highly negative ratings to solvents, crack cocaine and heroin. Higher ratings were associated with increased levels of use. A majority of those who reported health problems from cannabis also reported benefits. LSD was credited with the highest number of both 'best' and 'worst' drug experiences.

Key words

UK, regular use, cannabis, questionnaire, attitudes of drug users, self-reported effects, frequency of use, consumption, patterns of drug use, costs of use (legal drugs, LSD, psilocybin, amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, crack, ecstasy), demographic variables (age, sex, employment status etc.), cannabis market, prices, routes of administration, paraphernalia, plant cultivation, drug subcultures, purity, drug offences, driving.

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