After having taken some time off this month to welcome the arrival of my first child I figured I would use this blog post to post the article I had recently written for our INTREPID Newsletter about my recent trip to Denmark to present at the ISSDP Conference for those of you who didn’t get a chance to read the Newsletter.
Shortly after starting my PhD within Project 7 of the INTREPID Forensics Programme I joined the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) in order to stay up to date on the latest drug policy research and connect with a large network of fellow drug policy researchers from around the world. The combination of having a lovely supervisor and a generous travel budget as part of the INTREPID Forensics Programme meant that as an early career researchers I had the fortune of attending each of the ISSDP’s Annual Conferences over the past three years. My first attendance to an ISSDP conference as an INTREPID researcher saw me travel to Ghent followed by two joint ISSDP conferences in Auckland and Sydney last year.
This past May I attended the 2017 ISSDP Conference which took place in Aarhus, Denmark. Being my third attendance to the conference meant that I had the opportunity to reconnect with the many academics that I have had the opportunity to get to know of the past two and a half years as well as meeting many new people doing interesting research in this field.
Given that the focus of the conference was international drug policy and that the UK’s decision to impose a blanket ban on psychoactive substances through the enactment of the Psychoactive Substance Act 2016 (PSA 2016) was highly publicized within drug policy circles; the conference organisers organised a session dedicated to New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) which is the focus of my current PhD research. I had the opportunity to present the paper that I had written for the conference during this session which discussed the initial impact that the PSA 2016 was having on the UK’s online “legal high” market.
Given the interest in the PSA 2016 amongst drug policy researchers my session also included presentations by fellow UK criminology researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University who presented their research on the impact that the PSA 2016 was having on Manchester’s vulnerable homeless population. Our presentations were therefore able to nicely complement one another with my presentation showing the impact that the legislation was having on NPS retailers while the other presentation looked at the impact of the legislation on consumers. Both presentations concluded that while the legislation was clearly impacting the sale of NPS through online retailers as well as high street “head shops” the legislation had done very little to reduce use of the products within the most vulnerable and marginalised sections of the population such homeless/rough sleepers as well as inmates.
As in previous years I enjoyed my time at the ISSDP Conference and brief stay in Aarhus. The opportunities to travel and present at such big international academic conferences is only possible thanks to the generous opportunities made available through the INTREPID Forensics Programme. These experiences have without a doubt helped accelerate my ability to establish myself as an early career researcher within this field by enabling me to present my research to a wider audience as well as establish a strong network of fellow researchers that will hopefully lead to future research collaborations as I progress in my career as a researcher. I hope to be able to continue to attend future ISSDP conferences once my time within the INTREPID Forensics Programme has come to an end.