Global Drug Survey

Readers may wish to participate in the Global Drug Survey, if you haven’t before. The goal this year is to have over 120,000 participants, in order to have really good information about drug use worldwide.

What makes this survey of particular interest is that this is an independent organization that doesn’t have prohibition as its mission.

To quote them:

Global Drug Survey seeks to become the largest most credible source of current drug use data trends in the world.

Accepting that the hidden masses of those who use substances are not the focus of government research or public health interventions, we seek to inform the wider drug using populations about their use of substances in a way that is meaningful, relevant and useful.

We strongly support harm reduction and accept that pleasure drives the majority of drug use, which for most people most of the time is not a source of distress or harm in their lives.

We acknowledge that drugs can be harmful but that the risk of harm can be significantly mitigated by the adoption of common sense risk reduction strategies.

We seek to limit the harm drugs may cause individuals and their communities by being honest, open and transparent about drug use and sharing our findings with the public without government or funder interference.

That’s something I can get behind.

I’ve taken the survey, and it seems incredibly comprehensive.

You can see findings from previous surveys here.

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17 Responses to Global Drug Survey

  1. Freeman says:


    These guys are asking the right questions, and have the right focus.

    This conclusion from the 2014 GDS results goes straight to the point of what is so horribly wrong with the positions and strategies proposed by the so-called policy experts:

    The significance of these finding for governments need to be taken in conjunction with the predominant finding from Global Drug Survey’s hypothetical questions about how reducing the criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of drugs would impact upon people’s drug using behaviours, for more on this see our recent blog post.

    The overwhelming finding across countries was not that a reduction in criminal penalties would encourage hoards of non-drug users to try drugs or for current drug users to increase their use. Instead it was that people who use drugs would be more open with their family and friends about their use and more likely to seek help or advice about the use and associated health harms.

    Government drug policy should not be caught up in a polarized debate about legalization but instead should consider crafting a public health policy that optimizes the health and well-being of all its citizens. The first step is to treat people who drugs as rationale adults who wish to be informed and have a strong desire to preserve their health and happiness and contribute to their society as much as the person next to them.

    If changing drug laws reduces societal harms and promotes health among those who drugs and leads to a happier, more productive society with less discrimination and compounded deprivation of the most vulnerable then surely change is worth considering with objectivity and evidence. Any other outcome would appear to be made by someone who was off their heads on drugs!

    (emphasis and link mine)

  2. Will says:

    “We strongly support harm reduction and accept that pleasure drives the majority of drug use, which for most people most of the time is not a source of distress or harm in their lives.

    We acknowledge that drugs can be harmful but that the risk of harm can be significantly mitigated by the adoption of common sense risk reduction strategies.”


    The above sentences are entirely too pragmatic for the vast majority of our elected officials — and that special coterie of “social policy experts” (the Kleimans, the Caulkins, the Sabets) — to wrap their heads around. Where are the hair-on-fire words normally associated with drugs — “epidemics”, “ruined lives” (and communities), the “Children”, etc.? How are the crazed bureaucratic loons supposed to be reached if those behind this survey don’t talk like — well — crazed bureaucratic loons?

    I look forward to taking this survey. Even if it doesn’t cause me to peer out the window suspiciously, looking for unseen dangers that have never existed…

  3. Richard M. Bongworth says:

    Croatia, from March cannabis in pharmacies

    The new legislation allows for the use of products containing THC, if prescribed by your doctor to certain diseases

  4. Will says:

    Since mentions of Frederick Douglass are popping up all over the place (born and died in the month of February), here’s one of my favorite quotes of his. It certainly pertains to the drug war, and a whole lot more of course;

    “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” ~ Frederick Douglass

  5. darkcycle says:

    Gonna hike off topic here for a minute. Real policy people weigh in on BOTEC’s funny numbers. They are still at it. Marky and Co. are blowing it big time yet again:
    Of course, he might have just asked us, since so far we’ve been prescient. And he…well, lets just say he’s been disappointing.

    • Freeman says:

      OMG dc, that BOTEC report is whack! Everything Dr. MacRae critiques is verifiably f*cked up. Basic math throughout the document is incomprehensibly errant. Check out the chart on page 2 and see if you can figure out how the totals column math works, then note that even in the “Best Estimate” rows where the individuals do actually add up to the totals, the market shares for medical and illicit come to 36.09 and 29.32 respectively by everyone else’s math, not 37 and 28 as reported, and too far away to dismiss as rounding errors. AND THAT’S THE ONLY MATH ON THE CHART THAT EVEN COMES CLOSE TO MAKING SENSE! The rest of it is incomprehensible nonsense. And they’re so proud of that errant chart that they repeat it on page 30.

      There are (k)Lieman droppings throughout, of course (he’s the lead author — who else?), like this little LOL-gem:

      According to a RAND report titled “What America’s Users
      Spend on Illegal Drugs 2000-2010” [WAUSID] (Kilmer et al., 2014), the national
      average price-per-gram of cannabis was $7.11. That may be taken to be a reasonable
      estimate for the price of cannabis in Washington’s illicit market and medical
      market.17 18

      17 On one hand, one might expect Washington’s black market cannabis to be cheaper than the
      national average, due to an abundance of producers and retailers operating at economies of scale; on
      the other hand, one might expect it to be more expensive, since Washington has more potent
      cannabis than average. These two considerations work in opposite directions, and so the net effect is
      assumed to be neutral.
      18 In the first draft of the BOTEC report, this figure was taken to represent all cannabis sold in
      Washington; the new methodology represents an added layer of complexity.

      Whoo Hoo! Watch yer wallets, Washingtonians, BOTEC’s adding fancy new layers of complexity to the report your taxes are paying for, and this is going to really goose the bill, what with it being so very complex and all! I mean, it’s indescribably complex to take a wild-ass national-average guess one of your RAND cohorts excreted from last decade’s wild-ass guesses, apply that directly to the specific market you’re purporting to analyze today while waving your hands over the negligible complexity of doing so accurately by declaring an assumption that disparate market influences evenly cancel each other out, and then — get this — add a whole new layer of mind-bending complexity by splitting out the legal part of the market that you can get some solid numbers on and reporting that as a separate estimate. Now let’s see if the result of this uber-complex genius analysis based on solid scientifically-derived numbers passes the giggle test here on the couch:

      This yields a reasonable range of $5.26 to $7.36 for the price-per-gram (pre-tax) of cannabis on the I-502 market.

      You don’t want to know how they derived those figures. Suffice it to say they didn’t bother to simply ASK THE POT SHOPS WHAT’S THE GOING PER-GRAM PRICE. Nope, too simple. Gotta goose the bill with some complexity, doncha know.

      And of course, as Dr. MacRae points out, he f*cks that up again when applying it to the projected annual market by lazily and sloppily gathering a SINGLE DATA POINT and ludicrously extrapolating it to represent the whole (guess he just can’t handle all that complex complexity):

      Point #3) – Multiplying the level of recreational sales that occurred in October 2015 by 12 is not a reasonable way to estimate the expected annual size of a market that is still in it’s infancy

      aside from the fact that Oct’15 saw diminished sales in the face of Oregon beginning to offer tax-free Cannabis on Oct 1, our recreational market is far from saturation in it’s 19th month of existence.

      And of course, as always our friendly dr. silent-k and company can always be counted on to match their intellectual courage to their legendary analytical prowess and mad cipherin’ skilz. Dr. MacRae in response to a comment asking if he’d contacted BOTEC for a response:

      I contacted BOTEC early last month … and have had no response whatsoever from them.

    • Freeman says:

      I stopped by the StraightAnalytics blog last night and dropped a little comment there. I went over a little bit of history we’ve experienced in our dealings with BOTEC and Dr. silent-k, gave him some idea of what to expect, and concluded with this:

      I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that our distinguished gentleman from BOTEC thinks medical marijuana is a fraudulent sham. You got it right, Dr. MacRae; this dangerous group puts its greed and prejudices well before the needs of vulnerable patients, the rights of their fellow citizens, and their own responsibility to deliver honest and accurate analysis to the public that pays way too much for it.

      Thank you, Dr. MacRae, for being one more voice speaking out against blatant propaganda and deliberately misleading misinformation peddled by self-alleged “experts”.

  6. Servetus says:

    The Global Drug Survey beats the drug survey given to me long ago by my high school. At least the GDS appears to gather useful drug taking information, whereas the only thing the idiot administration at my HS seemed concerned about was the heretical act of drug taking itself. For example, a typically vague question from my high school survey: “Have you used aerosol sprays?” Answer: “Yes”, but no space or opportunity is given to note that I’m only using it as a deodorant, etc. Schools need to switch to the GDS if they expect to obtain relevant and useful drug taking information. Otherwise, they’re not saying know to drugs.

    • DdC says:

      It’s thorough. The designer drugs or most of the RAVE drugs I passed on doing. I’ve never heard of many of the later listed initialed ones. Some I’ve heard Deadheads mention. The other white powders including acid and booze have been long past the 12 month option. There were quite a few options for lsd at the time. Blotter, or various tablets from Orange Sunshine to Vitamin C, Purple haze and microdot. Big dif between the 90’s measured pure doses and sunshine. Older daze yes/no choices were listed that included about everything at the time. MDA, mescaline, snortable cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, shrooms, hash, hash oil, kynd bud and working dope “bush”. Hope that doesn’t mean the compacted cheap Mexican street pot. I’d rather not toke or clean out old bowls first.

      I’ve tried all of the various cannabis products since civilization hit a few years ago. Haven’t tried Rick Simpson’s oil. Licking bullfrogs or the 60’s trippy brainwrecks STP, DMT or Cobra venom. Or Ayahuasca or Ibogaine. The shatter, concentrates and edibles are nice. I enjoy a hit of a camel straight after toking to subdue coughing. I’ve always thought mixing tobacco with Ganja or smoking it in a Ganja bowl was sacrilegious, if I was religious, which I’m not. Outside of preaching to those who are, how wrong they have been with prohibition.

      The only real downer was listing synthetic crap spice, salts , etc., as cannabis. There is no connection to cannabis. As bad as calling it marijuana. Glad they progressed on that.

  7. Tony Aroma says:

    Took the survey. Makes me feel kind of old and out of touch. I didn’t even know what 99% of those drugs were. Very thorough!

  8. DdC says:

    The Drink That Kills 184,000 People Every Year
    Well, move over cigarettes and beer, because there’s a new killer in town. And it’s much more widely available, and is likely within arms-reach of you at this very moment. According to a new study from Tufts University, sugary drinks — including our beloved soda pops and fruit juices — kill an astounding number of people around the world every year. Up to 184,000, in fact.

    Cannabis still what? No, really? Zero? They sell the killer drinks to kids, at sporting events and even in schools. Reality is a terrible thing to waste…

  9. It seemed painless and anonymous enough, but I agree with Tony. I guess I need to beef up at Erowid on synthetics and hallucinogens.

  10. Windy says:

    Thought everyone on the couch would want to know about this group:

    Sick of our countries way they are handling cannabis laws? Want to change it? Join us to change cannabis laws, we are creating an organization similar to the NRA to continue fighting for your rights far into the future by keeping unfair taxes and other laws from being implemented that would be unjustified. Please support us! We will stand up in office for your rights!

  11. Servetus says:

    Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health is out about the impact of marijuana legalization on use trends. Since such information tends to get distorted or misquoted by politicians and prohibitionists, here is a current summary:

    February 3, 2016 – …over the past decade, marijuana use has increased significantly among adults aged 18 to 25 and those aged 26 years and older. These trends appear to have begun before 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana.

    Meanwhile, marijuana use by youth aged 12 to 17 has not increased significantly. However, young people’s perceptions of the risks of using marijuana have decreased, suggesting that they may be more likely to start using marijuana in the future.

    Studies have consistently shown that the potency of marijuana is increasing. Data from California suggest that marijuana is more widely available, and that more drivers are testing positive for it.

    Initial reports from Colorado and Washington State provide evidence on the effects of legalization. In Denver, marijuana-related hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and calls to poison control centers have all increased. At the same time, arrests for marijuana use/possession and admissions to substance use disorder treatment programs have decreased.

    I’m especially encouraged by the reduction in marijuana admissions to rehab. The industry and its scions have good reasons to be worried.

    AAAS Press Release:

    Published Study Abstract (paywall for article):

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