Sunday, 21st October 2018

MJ Atha Qualifications

Matthew J Atha - BSc MSc (Principal Consultant)


2nd MB, ChB, 1st LRCP, MRCS (Pre-clinical Medicine) Sheffield University 1979/80
Bachelor of Science (Psychology) 2(1) Hons Sheffield University 1983
Master of Science (Psychology) Research Thesis Birmingham University 1987
Bachelor of Letters (Law) 2 (2) Hons Wolverhampton University 1999

Expert Witness Certificate  Cardiff University / Bond Solon 2012

Research & Publications

Quantitative Assessment of Illicit Substance Use (Birmingham University) 1987 First surveys of illicit drug consumption (1982-1984) total 847 respondents, assessing levels of cannabis use, use of other drugs, demographic and other data. Validation of methodology aimed at regular consumers, pilot studies etc.

Cannabis Use in Britain appendix in Henman, Malyon & Lewis (Eds) Big Deal - The politics of the illicit drugs business. Pluto Press 1985. A brief summary of the main findings of the 1982 and 1984 surveys

Patterns of Cannabis Use. Research papers presented to UK Postgraduate Psychology Conference of the British Psychological Society 1985, and Society for the Study of Addiction annual conference 1986

Drug use at Pop Festivals: Edited 1984 Survey findings presented in the Annual Report of Festival Welfare Services 1985

Indian Hemp and the Dope Fiends of Old England: a sociopolitical history of cannabis and the British Empire 1840-1928 * In Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Centennial Volume, (SF: Last Gasp Press 1994) co-authored with Sean Blanchard

Regular Users - Self-reported drug consumption patterns and attitudes to drugs among 1333 regular cannabis users * Independent Drug Monitoring Unit 1997. £24.99 inc p&p. Co-authored with Sean Blanchard (research associate).

Types of Cannabis Available in the UK (1996) *- Ch. in The Case for Change - Release Publications (in press) - Review of physical characteristics, quality and prices of most common varieties of cannabis and cannabis resin.

Regular Users II - UK Drugs Market Analysis, purchasing patterns and prices. Atha MJ. Blanchard S & Davis S (1998) - in prep. - 1997 survey results inc. further data on price & purchasing behaviour.

IDMU submission to House of Lords Science & Technology Committee enquiry on Cannabis.* (publised in HoL paper 151-I), includes analysis of differences between medicinal and recreational cannabis users, literature reviews etc.

Internet publications: "*" Denotes articles reproduced in full or part on the IDMU website at
Other relevant experience.

*Uniquely qualified to comment on illicit drug consumption and valuation via original survey research providing extensive & quantitative information on drug prices & consumption patterns, derived from the accounts of drug users in non-threatening situations.

*Familiar with scientific, social science, political and subcultural literature concerning consumption and effects of cannabis and other illicit drugs, including reviews of most cannabis cultivation guides now available in the UK.

*Observed and interviewed informally drug users from all walks of life over the past 15-20 years, and is in regular contact with drugs squad officers, forensic scientists, Home Office.and other drugs researchers.

* Former voting member of the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse (SCODA), currently member of Addictions Forum, Society for the Study of Addiction and a founder member of the Expert Witness Institute.

*Receives notice of newly-published research papers on drugs and drug abuse from the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence (ISDD) and internet sources.

*Contributor to numerous press articles and books, television and radio programmes as a drugs expert, regularly briefs journalists, politicians (all parties) and other researchers (including ISDD referrals) on illicit drug issues, including recent UK reports for the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs & Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

* Speaker at conferences SCPS (HM Customs) on illicit drug trafficking, NAPO (Probation Officers), International Conference on Drug Policy Reform, Addictions Forum, other conferences of health/youth workers.

*Advised drugs squad officers and other professionals on good practice in evidence-gathering techniques in cases of alleged cannabis cultivation.

* Eighteen years experience as expert witness in criminal trials, has given evidence, advised or consulted on over 2000 Crown Court or Scottish Sherriff Court cases involving illicit drugs, including instruction from the CPS.

* Substantial experience of the issues involved in the supply of illicit drugs (e.g. paraphernalia, whether cannabis resin used or unused), and of the potential yields of cannabis plants grown in different situations.

*Experience of many forensic analysis techniques, including MS, NMR and IR spectroscopy, TLC, HPLC & GC chromatography, from work in a research laboratory with Fisons Pharmaceuticals Ltd, from subsequently reading chemistry as a first year degree option, and from experience in previous cases.

*Worked as a Welfare Rights adviser in Local Government and the voluntary sector, with experience & knowledge of the welfare benefits system and of low-income households.

*Listed on the UK Register of Expert Witnesses, a founder member of the Expert Witness Institute, practising associate of Academy of Experts.

*Specific experience and knowledge of scientific evidence concerning therapeutic uses of cannabis & cannabinoids, provided written evidence at invitation of House of Lords Cannabis enquiry, advisor to pharmaceutical company developing cannabinoid-derived medicinal products for clinical trials with a view to obtaining product licences.

*A deserved reputation for impartiality, a thorough analysis of the case and attention to detail, including reports with fully-referenced source material.
*"One-Stop Shop" Authoritative comment on most aspects of criminal drugs cases (consumption, forensic evidence, yield of plants, paraphernalia, valuations, effects etc) otherwise requiring instruction of several different experts.


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