New research shows most cannabis supplied by friends and acquaintances

A new study of Australian cannabis users has found that most obtain their cannabis through a ‘social supply’ market in which the supplier brokers, facilitates or sells drugs to friends and acquaintances for little or no financial gain.

The study into the Social Supply of Cannabis in Australia was funded by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund and conducted by a team headed by Professor Simon Lenton at the National Drug Research Institute. It recruited 200 cannabis users aged between 18 and 30 years from Perth, Melbourne and Armidale in northern New South Wales and explored the impact of supply routes on young users and their perceived notions of drug dealing.

The study revealed that the supply of cannabis typically occurs in a closed market, characterised by high levels of trust among consumers and suppliers who are already known to each other at the level of adjacent pairs or small group networks, with supply usually occurring in private settings.

Although most people who engaged in supply understood that their activities would be regarded as such in law, most did not consider themselves to be a ‘true dealer’ because they often saw their cannabis supply as ‘helping out friends’, often in reciprocal relationships, and mostly involving no or minimal profit. Further, many did not seem to engage with the fact that they were potentially exposing themselves to a serious criminal charge.

The bulletin summarising the study is available here: Lenton, S., Grigg, J., Scott, J.A. and Barratt, M.J. (2015). The social supply of cannabis among young people in Australia. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice, No 503, December 2015. Australian Institute of Criminology.

The full report of the study is available here: Grigg, J., Scott, J., Lenton, S. and Barratt, M.J. (2015). Social supply of cannabis in Australia. Monograph Series No. 59. National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF), Canberra. ISBN: 1449-7476.

Posted on: 1 Feb 2016

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