3 - Users Opinions of Drugs
were asked to subjectively 'rate' all drugs on a scale
of 0-10, whether they had ever used them or not. They
typically provided very strong positive ratings for cannabis,
and strong positives for mushrooms, LSD and ecstasy. The
strongest negative ratings were for the fictitious drug
'Bliss', solvents, and crack (Tables 3.1-3.5).
There was a
significant relationship between the frequency of use
of all drugs and the subjective ratings of those drugs.
Those who had never used any particular drug tended to
give it strong negative ratings. The greater the frequency
of use the higher the rating. The exceptions were heroin
and cocaine, where the very small number of daily users
provided lower ratings than regular but less than daily
users, possibly a reaction to dependence on the drugs
also asked to briefly describe their own best and worst
experiences of drugs. Many mentioned combinations of drugs,
and all explanations were in their own words, which we
have summarised and given quotes from (Tables 3.6-3.7).
Quotes are independent of the numbers of summarised responses
given - many gave no reasons for naming particular drugs.
Their reasons for choosing these experiences were often
to do with specific occasions or settings, so exact comparisons
with the ratings or other studies of positive/negative
feelings about drugs cannot easily be made.
The most common
best drug experiences were with LSD, cannabis, ecstasy
and mushrooms, in that order, alone or in combinations.
The worst were with LSD, alcohol, mushrooms and cannabis,
in that order. A large number gave LSD, or mushrooms,
as the cause of both best and worst experiences. The general
rating and the ratings by users, strongly positive in
both cases, indicate that opinion is not polarised over
these drugs, rather that users are willing to accept the
risk of a bad trip in the expectation of a pleasant one.
are comparable to those in the Release drugs and dance
survey - drugs which the respondents had taken were most
likely to be thought reasonable candidates for legalising
possession, with the shift in attitude greatest for cannabis
and LSD. Their respondents" favourite drugs to take
generally were cannabis (64%), ecstasy, amphetamines,
LSD, and mushrooms.
4 - Cannabis Use
cannabis use were the main subject of this survey, occupying
half the questionnaire. Every study known names cannabis
as the most commonly used illegal drug among those who
have ever used any, and among current drug users. In general
population studies those who have ever used the drug are
at best divided into a range of categories from 'Ever
used' to 'Regular user'. There is very little consistency
in the way these categories are defined, but regular usually
means more than once weekly.
We asked multiple
questions about levels of cannabis use, as controls. As
well as the range of eight average use levels in the questions
about all drugs, there were questions about spending and
subjective rating. Separate questions were also asked
about most recent use and purchase of cannabis, average
monthly use, purchase and spending, and how many joints
or pipes were filled and smoked per day. Different figures
for the amounts used and money spent came in response
to differently phrased questions, but they were generally
consistent and very closely correlated (r = 0.98). There
was a much lower correlation between purchase and use.
This may indicate that the question posed in 1984, on
how much was bought in the previous month, may have been
flawed. In a number of cases the amounts bought and used
do not closely match; factors causing this included the
use of home grown, families where only one person does
the buying, and social and/or commercial supply.
It was correctly
assumed that nearly all respondents would have used cannabis;
95% had done so within the previous week, so would be
classed as 'regular users' by most studies (Table 4.1).
15% had never tried any other illegal drug. Just over
2% had used it under 10 times; just over 1% had stopped
using. Because of the festival surroundings this is likely
to include some who use cannabis less frequently, who
considered this a special occasion. 42% gave "Now"
as their most recent use, i.e. while they were filling
in the survey form.
average cannabis consumption of the respondents was 24.8g
per month, around seven eighths of an ounce. They claimed
to buy 64.3g per month, just over two and a quarter ounces.
Two differently phrased questions were put about amounts
spent, and the overall average results correlated closely
at £68.60 per month. Differences may have been due
to different numbers of missing values, as several respondents
failed to complete the second side of the questionnaire.
For these tables
we merged the "daily" and "more than daily"
responses from Table 2.1 above, as 'daily'. The 'regular
but not weekly' and the 'weekly but not daily' were combined
as 'regular', and the 'used once' and 'used under 10 times'
as 'experimental'. 'Non users' included those who had
given up, who had not yet used the drug, and those who
had left the question blank.
use, purchase and spending on cannabis was by daily users
(Table 4.5). Their consumption averaged 34.8g per month,
Average spending was £94.20. The maximum accepted
personal consumption was 200-250g, or 7-9oz per month
reported spending the least per gram of cannabis used,
and buying the most compared with workers or students.
This may represent social or commercial supplying, smoking
other peoples, or homegrown use. Students used the least
and spent the most per gram on it (Table 4.6).
The most common
method of using cannabis is mixed with tobacco into 'joints'
or 'spliffs'. Although some people use 'spliffs' to mean
only neat herbal cannabis cigarettes, here the terms are
interchangeable. Some forensic scientists and civil servants
use the obsolete slang 'reefers', which we have succumbed
to where discussing comparable data.
reported 72.5% of use to be in joints (Tables 4.7-4.8).
Users claimed on average to roll 5 a day and smoke 6.
The most frequent users rolled an average 8 and smoked
10 joints per day. The difference could be accounted for
by the sharing of joints, which is very common. The number
they rolled may be the more reliable indicator of consumption.
Herbal cannabis is frequently smoked "neat"
without added tobacco, which accounts for about 5% of
reported consumption. Either variety can be smoked in
pipes (19%), or eaten by itself or in other food (4%).
Around 1 to 2% of respondents consumed 50% or more of
their cannabis in food or drink, and around 25% eat or
drink their cannabis on occasions. Other methods include
heating between hot knives, on the end of a pin, or inside
a bottle or bucket. The use of joints is higher than in
our 1984 survey, use of pipes is lower, and use of hot
knives is much lower.
unpublished Home Office data suggests that the average
amount of herbal cannabis in what they refer to as a reefer
is approximately 200mg, and approximately 140mg for cannabis
resin. These and other reports have shown a very wide
range of amounts of cannabis in a joint, from a few milligrams
to over one gram, with a significant minority containing
over 300mg . Most of these reports only analysed joints
rolled with tobacco. The Chepstow Forensic Science laboratory
found that of 107 unsmoked reefers analysed, five contained
cannabis only, four of these containing between 451mg
and 483mg of herbal cannabis.
the reported monthly cannabis use by the total number
of pipes and joints smoked, it is possible to make a crude
estimate of the average amounts of cannabis in joints
(Table 4.9). The mean amount was 162mg, with 10.6% of
the estimates being over 300mg, 3.3% over 500mg, and 1.7%
over 750mg. When the results were weighted to take account
of non-daily users, the average estimated content rose
to 196mg. These distributions are broadly consistent with
the forensic laboratory data.
of cannabis is very common, 60% of respondents had grown
at least some of their own cannabis at some time. Half
of those had grown less than 5 plants on the most recent
occasion, and the average grown was 19 plants, with daily
users (who grew) averaging 23 plants, whereas experimental
users (who grew) averaged 5.5 plants. Most of this home
growing would be to attain self-sufficiency, rather than
intended for profit, where harvests would be larger and
A large majority
(75%) of growers did so indoors, 77% using sunlight either
exclusively or in combination with lights. High-intensity
discharge lights, such as metal halide or high pressure
sodium, had been used by one grower in six (17%). One
in three growers (35%) had used "pedigree" seeds such
as 'Skunk' or 'Northern Lights' either exclusively or
in combination. Those who grew more were more likely to
have tried combinations of seed sources and growing methods.
The more cannabis
they bought and used in general, the more likely respondents
were to have grown their own, and the more plants they
had grown. Those who had grown 10 or more plants were
significantly heavier users (average 37g/month) than non-growers
(20g). Those who had never grown any also reported buying
less and spending less on cannabis than growers. However,
they spent more per gram (Tables
previous cannabis consumption surveys (1982 and 1984)
of 240 and 607 regular cannabis users respectively found
that the "average" (mean) cannabis usage was just over
one ounce per month (29.3 & 29.9g). Both surveys showed
very similar patterns, with a large number of relatively
moderate users (median usage was 14g/month), but a smaller
number of heavy and very heavy users (mean use for 'more
than daily' users was 65.8g), with a maximum usage of
150g, or just over 6 ounces, per month. Users of imported
herbal cannabis had a higher mean consumption (57.1g/month)
than users of resin. The results of the current survey
suggest a slight decrease in average consumption since
1984, although there are a larger number of very heavy
1973 study of reefer contents quoted regular use by three
groups of experimental subjects of (a) 2g to 6g of cannabis
per day (mean 3.8g), (b) 0.1g to 1g per day (mean 0.3g),
and (c) 0.3g to 8.3g per day (mean 2.8g), with some users
smoking 10-20 reefers per day. The heaviest user in his
study consumed 252g per month, consistent with the heaviest
reported users from these surveys.
Woodward, for the BBC"s Drugwatch TV special, conducted
a survey of drug users in 1984. The "cannabis only"
users spent an average £12 per week, representing
3.8g to 5.9g per week at 1984 prices. The heaviest 8%,
spending up to £30 per week, used 9.6g to 15.8g per
week at 1984 prices. However, these did not include the
"cannabis plus other drugs" users, who spent
up to £200 per week in total, a significant proportion
of which may have been on cannabis by heavy users who
occasionally used other drugs (i.e. the common pattern
in our surveys). The Drugwatch study was targeted towards
problem users of (mainly) class A drugs. The overall response
rate is not stated, (3000 questionnaires were distributed)
although the "cannabis only" group constituted
only 3% of the total sample.
study of cannabis use in 100 attenders at a drug and alcohol
clinic in South Wales found average use of 10.5g per week
with the heaviest user reporting 70g per week at a cost
of £250. McBride calculated, on the basis of responses
to questions about the number of joints per eighth or
sixteenth ounce, that users would consume 350mg of cannabis
resin, or 620g herbal cannabis, in a joint. Those who
did not use tobacco would consume about 27% more cannabis
or resin per joint or pipe than those who used a mix,
although there was no difference in the overall cannabis
usage between these two groups.
levels found in the UK. market, restricted by the high
unit cost of cannabis, are considerably lower than in
countries where use of cannabis is traditional. Where
plentiful supplies are cultivated locally, the amount
consumed can exceed 2oz (56g) per day . The singer Bob
Marley was reported to smoke over an ounce per day Looking
at the dosage of THC to which smokers were exposed, Rubin,
Bowman & Pihl, and Beaubrun found THC dosages of 60
to 420 mg/day, equivalent to smoking 2 to 14 grams per
day with 3% THC. Stephanis et al found that hashish users
in Greece used an average of 7.48g per day, equivalent
to the heaviest UK users.