‘Trafficking’ or ‘personal use’: Do regular drug users understand Australian drug trafficking laws?

Date Commenced:
October 2012
Project Supporters:

Colonial Foundation Trust

Drug Type:
image - Dpmp15 280
Project Members
Project Main Description

Most Australian states and territories have adopted legal thresholds for drug trafficking, over which possession of an illicit drug is deemed ‘trafficking’ as opposed to ‘personal use’. Yet the extent to which regular drug users understand the laws and their implications has been subject to limited academic scrutiny. 

Rationale

Most Australian states and territories have adopted legal thresholds for drug trafficking, over which possession of an illicit drug is deemed ‘trafficking’ as opposed to ‘personal use’. Yet the extent to which regular drug users understand the laws and their implications has been subject to limited academic scrutiny.

Aims

This project will start to explore regular drug users’ levels of awareness and accuracy of knowledge about drug trafficking laws across Australia, taking into account different populations of users and different legal contexts.

Design and Method

User perceptions about legal thresholds for trafficking will be assessed firstly, amongst two national samples of Australian regular drug users: namely, participants in the 2012 Ecstasy and related Drug Reporting System (EDRS) and 2012 Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS). Perceptions knowledge will then be compared against the current drug trafficking laws and drug use behaviour. We will then assess perceptions of knowledge amongst a broader population of Australian police detainees, using the 2013 Drug Use and Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) survey.

Findings

In 2012 we completed analysis of the IDRS and EDRS samples. This revealed some clear gaps in knowledge. For example, amongst the IDRS sample of people who inject drugs regularly, most were aware that quantity possessed would affect charge received, but many either failed to nominate any specific quantity that would constitute an offence of supply or nominated a quantity that was larger than the actual quantity for supply. That said, our analysis also revealed levels of knowledge were higher in the EDRS sample, but still had some areas of clear gaps in knowledge. Across both samples poor legal knowledge was also associated with higher risk purchasing patterns.

Output

Papers:

Hughes, C.E., Ritter, A., Cowdery, N. & Sindicich, N. (2014) “Trafficking” or “personal use”:  Do people who regularly inject drugs understand Australian drug trafficking laws?  Drug and Alcohol Review. DOI: 10.1111/dar.12167

Posters and presentations: 

Hughes, C. (2012, November). 'Trafficking’ or 'personal use’: Do regular drug users understand Australian drug trafficking laws? APSAD Conference, Melbourne. 20th November.

Hughes, C., Ritter, A., Cowdery, N. (2013, September). Poster presentation: “Trafficking” or “personal use”: Do regular injecting drug users understand Australian drug trafficking laws? NDARC Annual Research Symposium, UNSW, Sydney. 4 September.

Benefits

This will start to provide insight into the extent to which there is a need to increase awareness of drug trafficking laws amongst all/particular populations of regular drug users.

Project Supporters

Colonial Foundation Trust

Project Research Area
Drug Type
Project Status
Completed
Year Completed
2014
Date Commenced
October 2012

Project Contacts

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