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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
In this issue
Article Type: In this issue From: Drugs and Alcohol Today, Volume 12, Issue 4
Three years ago we reported on the Rototom Sunsplash Festival (Klein, 2009), a lively music event held in Osoppo in northern Italy. Sadly, this internationally acclaimed music festival has fallen victim to harassment by police and officialdom. Peter Cohen, in “The prosecution of the Rototom: Italian Voodoo” attributes this to a creeping irrationality. Mobilising massive public resources to shut down a thriving festival that has drawn thousands of visitors from all over Europe does seem strangely at odds with official economic policy.
Given the priority accorded by senior police officers to combating cannabis markets in many countries, it is not surprising that users are increasingly resorting to home cultivation. The paper by Monica Barrat et al. “Understanding global patterns of domestic cannabis cultivation” introduces an ongoing research project into cannabis cultivation across three continents. It raises interesting issues about motivation, the relationship with criminal organisations – or not – and the validity of research instruments across different cultural contexts. One interesting issue is how to gain the confidence of informants engaged in criminal activity using web-based questionnaires.
On the theme of cannabis, Gary Potter and Caroline Chatwin explore “The problem with skunk” as a term for high THC strength cannabis strains. The term is strongly contested among cannabis users and has in many situations become simply a synonym for herbal cannabis. Citing, inter alia, findings from web-based research, they track the informed discussion within cannabis-affiliated communities, and warn that the undifferentiated us of the term leads “to confusion in knowledge accumulation, obfuscation in public debate, and impediments to policy formulation”.
Confusion also reigns in the classification of new and old synthetic substances, according to Bernd Werse and Cornelia Morgenstern’s “How to handle ‘legal highs’? Findings from a German online survey and considerations on drug policy issues”. The most prevalent legal high were synthetic forms of cannabis, followed by a range of substances including so-called “research chemicals” with as yet unknown health effects. The authors conclude that so-called legal highs are a substitute for illicit drugs and that user willingness to switch to little known alternatives is directly related to the degree of repression.
A systematic review of literature by Rebekah Brennan and Marie Claire Van Hout on a “no longer” legal high explores some of the dilemmas involved in criminalising substances unsuccessfully. Mephedrone’s popularity it seems, continues to rise demonstrating “the failure of legislative control to curb its lifespan within the dynamic global drug scene”. As little is known either about product consistency or health effects the authors recommend pharmacovigilence!
Klein, A. (2009), “Festival report”, Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 35–6