Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Cannabis Resources on BBC

Anti-legalisation video
The BBC’s Learning Zone has a range of resources which include some on cannabis.

They have video clips which illustrate the arguments for and against legalising cannabis, the issues around use and abuse of the drug.

They give a number of ideas about how the clips can be used in the classroom – to set up a debate on the legal position of the drug, or:

as a trigger for a discussion about the reasons why people choose to break the law and smoke cannabis. Use in conjunction with other user testimonies. Compare and contrast with the social and emotional problems presented in the clip. See this BBC link for further information http://www.bbc.co.uk/switch/surgery/advice/drink_drugs/cannabis/.

Filed under: cannabis, resources

Cannabis Farms

The headline on today’s front page of the Metro catches the eye; Ten-year-olds in drugs hothouses.

The story reflects on the links between large scale production of the drug in this country and children being smuggled here from South East Asia and is part of a campaign that Crimestoppers are running as part of the National Tackling Drugs week.

Here’s a video that CrimeStoppers have put on YouTube outlining how they think people can identify cannabis factories in their communities.

Filed under: cannabis

Are adolescents who moderate their cannabis use at lower risk of later regular and dependent cannabis use?.

Via the SHEU a piece of research into whether young people who moderate their use of cannabis are at less risk of developing problematic use.

The researchers conclude:

While many young people have dynamic cannabis use patterns, a pattern of moderating adolescent cannabis use was associated with less risk of later problematic use than among those persisting, but risks were still elevated substantially compared with never-users.

Filed under: cannabis, research

Internet-based drug treatment interventions

Insight10-140pxHaving heard Teuvo Peltoniemi talk about the potential for the internet and ICT more generally in delivering treatment I was interested to see that the EMCDDA have a new report looking at the area.

They suggest:

offering treatment to drug users via the Internet could have a number of advantages: it could reach a group of young people whose pattern of drug use falls between experimental and problematic and who are currently not reached through any other channel.

They go on to suggest that it may prove to be a particularly attractive route for reaching young problematic cannabis users who may be reluctant to approach traditional treatment services, and note that:

currently in Europe, there is a general lack of services dedicated to young, socially integrated problem cannabis users.

The report looks at the Knowing Cannabis website’s self-help programme and say:

Available data for the Know Cannabis Self-help shows that only about 9 % actually completed the programme and participated for at least 28 days. This attrition rate is presumably due to the low threshold access at the beginning, as not even a valid e-mail address had to be entered, or a real name. One could expect higher retention rates for nonanonymous programmes, subject to a fee.

Nevertheless, the report argues we should see the programme as best practice “since other studies have shown the efficacy of similar self-help programmes for problem alcohol use”.

Filed under: cannabis, treatment

What’s the deal on quitting cannabis?

quitting-cannabisVia Drug World News I’ve come across an Australian resource for those trying to reduce or quit their use of cannabis.

It’s not aimed at young people specifically, as far as I can tell, but given that cannabis remains the most widely used illegal drug in the UK and the substance that most young people are seeking treatment for I thought it might be of interest to this audience.

The leaflet says:

Overcoming cannabis dependence or changing any behaviour is not an easy task, but it is not impossible. In fact, most people say that it was not as hard as they first feared. It takes commitment, effort and persistence. Try to have supportive, positive people around you, at least for the first 7 – 10 days.

If you have the desire to change, and work towards your goal in a careful and strategic way, it will work for you.

The leaflet asks the reader to make an assessment of their dependency on cannabis and then to look at strategies for changing their behaviour should the choose to do so.

Download it here.

Filed under: cannabis, International, resources

Parliamentary Questions

Charles Walker, the Conservative MP for Broxbourne, has put down a couple of questions to the DCSF.  On drug testing in schools he asks:

what support is available from his Department to schools which wish to introduce voluntary drug testing; and if he will make a statement.

In reply Sarah McCarthy-Fry says:

The Department’s guidance, Drugs: Guidance for Schools (DFES 2004) makes it clear that head teachers can introduce voluntary drug testing if they consider that such an approach is appropriate. It is essential that before a school takes the decision to introduce drug testing that it considers very carefully all of the factors outlined in the guidance, including whether such action will result in appropriate support for pupils most in need. In deciding whether to use this approach, schools are encouraged to consult with local partners, such as the police, who may be able to offer advice and support.

What she doesn’t say is that when they asked Sir Alan Steer to look at the idea of drug testing in schools last year he came back and said:

Random drug testing isn’t likely to be effective and the government shouldn’t run a pilot.

Mr Walker also asks if the government:

will commission research on the effect of cannabis use on academic outcomes; and if he will make a statement.

To which Beverley Hughes says:

We are committed to tackling all of the harms associated with cannabis use, including poor school performance or disengagement from education. Although there is no specific research currently planned on the effects of cannabis use on academic outcomes, we will keep this under review as part of our work in relation to developing a cross-Government drugs research strategy. Through delivery of the National Drugs Strategy we will continue to drive the sustained fall in cannabis use amongst young people that we have experienced since 2001.

Luckily for us we don’t have to wait for government research as there’s some about already.  Susan Greenfield made a number of references to the accademic literature in her piece for the TES a few years ago (which provoked some debate on this blog), and the JRF also have a very pertinent paper on this subject.

Update – I’ve done a bit more digging and see that Mr Walker is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cannabis and Children.

Filed under: cannabis, Parliament, random drug testing

Cannabis: Throwing the first stone

Steve Rolles, of Transform, writes in The Journal, a paper aimed at students in Edinburgh, writes about drug education:

The problem with drugs education historically, and the cannabis issue in particular, is that it has evolved in the context of a highly emotive public debate, with the drugs issue subsumed within law and order populism, and generally characterised by “tough on drugs” political posturing, opportunism, and moralising, rather than public health principles and evidence of effectiveness.

Now read on.

Filed under: cannabis, drug education

Coping with the cannabis fall-out

Dr Mark Porter gives advice to parents in The Times:

It’s only natural for parents to become anxious at the mere suggestion that their offspring may be dabbling with cannabis, but these days sensible parents should assume that they are. If your teenager hasn’t tried cannabis, and one in four admits to having done so by 15, I’ll wager that he or she is mixing with others who have. So how worried should you be?

Now read on.

Filed under: cannabis, parents

The Brain Crasher Party

The government’s public health campaign, Frank, have a new advert aimed at 11-18 year olds.

The Guardian in their coverage say:

While it is not the first anti-cannabis advert to appear on British television, it is the first to specifically target 11-14 year-old “dabblers and contemplaters”, children considering smoking the drug without awareness of any consequent problems. It is also aimed at slightly older peers who may have already tried the drug.

They go on to review the advert which I’ve embedded (above) saying:

no one is expecting Jamesian subtlety in a 40-second government health ad – but neon signs above people’s heads? Really? Sometimes you just gotta love the government for trying. But alas, suggestion and allusion aren’t optional extras in successful advertising – they are its defining feature…

The result is a dismal, deadening literalness that I suspect won’t even cause its target demographic to lift an eyebrow, never mind a phone.

Filed under: advertising, cannabis, Frank

ACPO Guidance on Cannabis Possession for Personal Use

untitled1In the light of the change in classification for cannabis, the police have changed their guidance on dealing with cases of possession for personal use.

Should you be interested you can download the document from here.

In describing aggravating circumstances where officers may want to escalate the way they deal with the offences the guidance outlines a number of examples.

  1. Smoking in a public place (in which they include in the street and in a youth club).
  2. Where there is a locally identified policing problem which “may include a disorder ‘hotspot’ in an area (public park, local shops, public house, near schools or where young people frequent) that generates frequent calls for service to deal with anti-social behaviour.”
  3. To protect young people.
  4. For persistent offenders.

The guidance asks officers when escalating the action they’re taking to have a number of questions in their mind:

  • What impact will the decision to issue a Cannabis Warning or PND have on the offender?
  • Does this person understand the seriousness of this offence?
  • Will this person benefit from this course of action?
  • Will this person take any heed of a Cannabis Warning or PND Notice?
  • Is there any evidence of previous convictions or offending behaviour that may show that they have little regard for the law?

Where the offender is 17 years old or younger the guidance is explicit:

Young People aged 17 years of age, or under, cannot be given a Cannabis Warning or a PND for possession of cannabis.

If there are local partnership agreements (Local Education Authority) in place, these will take precedence over these guidelines. The ACPO Guidance for Policing Drugs in Schools – ‘Joining Forces’ – offers further advice on this aspect of responding to cannabis possession.

This is fleshed out in the FAQ chapter:

Can I give a person who is 17 years old, or under, a Cannabis Warning or a PND?

No. Section 65 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 requires that such young people be considered for a reprimand, final warning or prosecution. However, that does not mean officers have to arrest at the time in order to seize the cannabis. The officer could decide to take the young person home to the protection of their parent or guardian. Taking this action would not prevent a later warning or reprimand being given or a prosecution being started, at a later date.

However, if that is not possible and the officer has no reasonable alternative, then the officer should have no difficulty justifying that an arrest is necessary in such cases.

Do I still have to arrest a person that is 17 years old or under?

There is no longer a recommendation that such young people must be arrested. The officer will have to justify that an arrest is necessary. However it is recognised that very often an arrest will be necessary to obtain the admission/evidence required for the final warning scheme. If this were necessary the officer would be justified in making an arrest.

What if a 17 year old and a 19 year old are smoking cannabis together?

The officer must look at the circumstances of each individual. It must be decided in each individual case that the action taken is both necessary and proportionate. Officers may have to deal with them differently i.e. Arrest one (17 years) and warn the other (19 years)

If the age difference was greater, say a 16 and 21 year old, it could also be decided that the 16 year old has been unduly influenced by the 21 year old, and arrest both.

Filed under: cannabis, police

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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July 2021