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Pike, Brigid (2009) International conference on drug policy. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 30, Summer 2009, pp. 2-3.

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The third annual conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) was held in Vienna between 2 and 4 March 2009. Scholars, analysts and researchers from around the world met to hear some 50 papers on the following themes:

  • Cannabis, including production, markets and policy
  • Politics, values and science in drug policy formation
  • Policy analytic frameworks including harm reduction
  • Policy assessment including cross-national comparisons
  • Public expenditure on the drugs issue and the cost of drug use
  • Statistical modelling and microsimulation
On the third day there were two half-day workshops on compiling a drug-harm index and on modelling.
 The variety of the conference programme is illustrated by the following quotations taken from the presentations of  a selection of contributors:
  • Law enforcement agencies can make a substantial contribution to reducing drug-related harms, for example by seeking to eliminate 'noxious' dealing, which is defined as including additional elements such as violence, corruption, terror or environmental damage. While such action may not reduce the size of the drug market, it will reduce the amount of collateral damage. Similarly, ensuring that children and other dependants of those arrested for drug-related offences are not exposed to dangers or risks as a consequence of the arrest will also help to contain the extent of the harm inflicted. (Jonathan Caulkins, USA)
  • There are at least two important and ignored topics in the literature on the social cost of illegal drugs. First, social cost ignores human suffering associated with drugs. Second, it does not focus on friends and family of the drug user. These failures result in an under-estimation of the overall size of the cost of drug use and, in turn, lead to an under-prioritisation of the issue of human suffering. (Hans Olav Melburg, Norway)
  • If states do decide to make cannabis legally available, it is recommended that a system of strict government-controlled regulation be employed, with controls on price, quality, potency and availability along with good public education about the harms of cannabis use and bans or restrictions on advertising and promotion. The effects of any changes need to be closely monitored and inform prompt revision of the changes if indicated. (Peter Reuter, USA)
  • A study of how Australian policy-makers obtain advice on policy development shows that research evidence is but one bit-player in the overall decision-making process. This finding suggests that 'evidence-informed' policy may be a more accurate description of the way that research findings influence policy than the more usual term 'evidence-based' policy. (Alison Ritter, Australia)
  • Benefits are to be gained from combining research into illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco. (Robin Room, Australia)
  • The drugs problem is a complex constellation of issues and difficulties associated with the production, distribution and consumption of illegal drugs. Viewing it as a governance problem may open up more effective ways of tackling the various dimensions, drawing on a number of different social science perspectives on governance to develop new and integrated approaches. (Toby Seddon, UK)
  • Diversified oral substitution is not able to eradicate risk behaviours or to attract those morphine users who are not able or not willing to stop injecting. For those users, programmes offering injectable preparations of substances for substitution seem to constitute the more adequate option. (Alfred Springer, Austria)
Further information on the conference, and on the two preceding annual conferences, is available on the website of the ISSDP www.issdp.org.
Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 30, Summer 2009
Page Range
pp. 2-3
Health Research Board
Issue 30, Summer 2009
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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