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17 Dec 20

Dr Melissa Bone


Introducing the ‘Drug Policy Voices’ project

(Relevant to the CLRNN Drugs Regulation Project)


Dr Melissa Bone

co-investigator for the Drug Policy Voices project, committee member of the CLRNN, co-project lead for the CLRNN “drugs regulation project”


Drug policy is firmly on the global political agenda, over the past decade we have seen significant changes to cannabis policy worldwide, researchers exploring the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelics and there has been a growing recognition that the UN drug Conventions are not fit for purpose. In a UK context we have seen legal changes to the scheduling of cannabis for medical use, an increase in drug related deaths, the introduction of drug diversion schemes, the establishment of drug checking services at festivals and debates about the introduction of safe consumption facilities. However, those with experience of consuming substances are often left out of drug policy debates.


Dr Rebecca Askew (the project lead) and I aim to address this through the ‘Drug Policy Voices’ research project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ref: ES/R007225/1). This three-year project includes the voices of a variety of people with experience into debates about drug policy reform. We want to understand the experiences of people who use drugs and integrate their opinions and values into drug policy reform debates.


We launched our ‘Drug Policy Voices’ survey in January 2020 and we received over 1,300 responses. We were able to successfully target some of the typically ‘harder to reach groups’ including a statistically significant proportion of individuals who have been stopped and searched by the police, and/or individuals who have been in drug or alcohol treatment. Our survey collected data on demographics, substance use experiences and it asked key value-based questions on drug policy and drug policy reform.


We are currently writing the first of several academic articles on our survey findings, and if you would like to find out more information in the interim please do not hesitate to contact us (links below). You can also watch ‘An audience with Dr Rebecca Askew’, where Rebecca provides a clear overview of our initial findings so far:


We are now in the process of conceptualising creative research methods to further engage and amplify the voices of people who use drugs in drug policy debates, and we have decided to launch a series of ten podcasts to aid us in this endeavour.


The podcasts will function as an educational, informative tool as well as being an entertaining broadcast medium. We will have structured segments each month which will include ‘counter-story telling’, giving a voice to a range of people with drug experiences, to address the narratives, stigma and stereotypes associated with people who use drugs. We will also incorporate a segment where people who use drugs i.e. ‘experts through experience’ ask ‘experts in drug policy’ policy related questions. One of our key themes will be to explore how the criminal justice system impacts people who use drugs, so please get it touch with me ( if you would be interested in taking part in the ‘experts in criminal justice’ segment.


Our first podcast will be launched in January 2021. Please follow us on Instagram and twitter: @drugpolicyvoices for updates and you can find out more information about the project via our website: