Help inform harm reduction in the EDM space

We need your help!

Harm reduction group Energy Control – famous for their international and local drug testing services – have collaborated with Australia’s DanceWize to do some research into safer drug use practices. We will see how drug use patterns and safer use practices differ between Spain and Australia, countries with quite different policy settings.

If you have been to festivals or dance parties recently, please complete the survey and help harm reduction groups understand what’s really happening!

Rainbow Serpent Festival
Rainbow Serpent Festival

Call for papers: Drug Cryptomarkets




Guest editors:

Monica Barratt and Judith Aldridge

Cryptomarkets (or ‘dark net markets’) are digital platforms that use anonymising software (e.g. Tor) and cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin) to facilitate trade of goods and services. Their emergence has facilitated transnational access to a wide range of high-quality psychoactive substances. Cryptomarkets are similar to open markets (e.g. so-called street markets) in the sense that trades can occur between strangers; however, cryptomarkets also offer the advantage of relatively efficient inbuilt trust mechanisms such as rating systems and forum discussions.

We invite papers that critically examine and advance our knowledge of drug cryptomarkets. The extent and quality of the submitted abstracts will determine whether we publish a full issue or a themed cluster of papers.

Abstracts (not exceeding 350 words) are invited that address the following questions:

  • What are the scope and scale of cryptomarkets?
  • How are cryptomarkets located within other internet structures (dark web, deep web, etc.)?
  • How are the drug use and harm/benefit trajectories of cryptomarket users affected by these new supply modes, compared with conventional drug market configurations?
  • How do cryptomarkets respond to threats from scams and law enforcement efforts?
  • What challenges do cryptomarkets pose for drug policy?
  • How is sense of community understood and enacted within the cryptomarket environment?
  • What is the potential for harm reduction digital outreach in cryptomarket environments?
  • To what extent do cryptomarkets flatten hierarchical supply network chains? What are the implications of their effects on network structures for drug markets?
  • To what extent can new drug trends emerging from cryptomarkets complement existing drug trend monitoring systems?
  • What are the methodological and ethical issues that arise from researching cryptomarkets?
  • How can participatory research models be implemented successfully in this space?
  • Any other research questions not mentioned above that relate to the theme.

We anticipate a wide range of disciplinary approaches will be included in this volume, as the topic invites consideration from sociological, criminological, economic, historical, epidemiological and policy perspectives. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research are welcome. Papers must discuss the implications of their findings for drug policy.

We invite six types of contributions (NB: in rare circumstances word limits may be exceeded with permission from the editors):

  • Research papers: Research papers are usually based on original empirical analyses, but may also be discursive critical essays. These papers are usually between 3,000 and 5,000 words.
  • Research methods papers: These papers explore methodological innovations in the field and are usually between 3,000 and 5,000 words.
  • Commentary: These papers explore in depth a particular topic or issue for debate, and may also include evidence and analysis. The Editor may invite expert responses to commentaries for publication in the same issue. Commentaries are usually between 2,500 and 4,000 words.
  • Viewpoint: Short comments and opinion pieces of up to 1,200 words which raise an issue for discussion, or comprise a case report on an issue relevant to research, policy, or practice.
  • Policy or historical analysis: These are focused specifically around contemporary or historical analyses of policies and their impacts, and are usually between 3,000 and 5,000 words.
  • Review: These papers seek to review systematically a particular area of research, intervention, or policy. Reviews are usually between 4,000 and 8,000 words.

Abstracts should be emailed to and to by Friday 10 April 2015. The email subject heading should read “IJDP Special Issue”. The editors will inform authors by Friday 1 May whether to proceed to full submission. If selected, complete manuscripts will be due Friday 7 August. All manuscripts are subject to the normal IJDP peer review process. Accepted papers will be available online from late 2015 and the special issue or section will be published in print in early 2016.

For more information about the International Journal of Drug Policy, see:



Returning from leave to begin a new fellowship!

This week I have returned to work from maternity leave to start a new job at the University of NSW, specifically within the Drug Policy Modelling Program at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. I am starting my 4-year National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship. My topic of research continues my interests ‘Drugs, Internet, Society’ but with a specific focus on new/novel/emerging drugs, as these pose unique policy challenges both here and globally.

I’ll be part-time to begin with and I have a number of ongoing projects to complete as well, but I do hope to become more active again with my blogging and other social media outlets. I really value the interactivity and public conversations that these media allow. So, expect some more discussions over the coming months. 🙂

Farewell for a little while

There’s been a lot going on in the world of online drug markets and new synthetic drugs lately. I appreciate people are interested in my commentary on these matters. I wish I could respond to you all, but unfortunately I am unable to do so.

In 4 weeks time I will go on maternity leave, and will be taking quite a few months (perhaps even a year!) away from my job. I need some time in this last month to finish up the loose ends of my project work, and then I need to prepare for the impending arrival of our first child!

If you have a new request for me, please contact the National Drug Research Institute reception on +61892661600 or where our receptionist and media officers can assign other researchers to help you.

As for my blog readers, I’m not sure how long I’ll be away – I might pop my head back in to write some ideas up, but can’t guarantee anything. Stay safe and be well. 🙂



Tripping on the Steps of Parliament House

Greg Kasarik will be tripping on the steps of Victoria’s parliament house tomorrow from midday to protest for the rights of all Victorians to legally use Transcendent Compounds for spiritual and religious purposes.

Greg is making an important stand for religious freedom. He is bringing the public’s attention to a lesser understood and acknowledged reason for using psychoactive substances – to gain personal and spiritual insight, and to better understand where we come from and why we are here.

The text below is lifted from Greg’s Facebook event:

At midday on Wednesday 28 November, in celebration of completing two weeks of Hunger Strike 2012, Greg Kasarik will be taking a tab of LSD on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House.

At the commencement of his Hunger Strike Greg had a last lunch of magic mushrooms.

Despite sending out a press release to the television and newspaper news outlets and forwarding a copy to the Premier’s office, cleverly entitled “Mystic Man to Munch Magic Mushrooms in Melbourne’s Marvellous Mall”, precisely nobody turned up.

No media. No Government and certainly no police. This (along with their heroic efforts at pretending we don’t exist: tells me that the Victorian Government knows they don’t have a leg to stand on and that they’d rather simply hope that we all went away.

This is not going to happen and to up the ante a bit, I will be re-enacting my odyssey in the Mall, but this time with a single tab of LSD.

Will anybody care? Will anybody notice? Will the police tazer me to death, or just tell me that my puppy and I can’t sit on the steps after all? Come along and find out!

This isn’t a rally, or anything, as I am doing this as a private citizen and Saasha is doing it as a private dog, but if several thousand people happen to drop by unexpectedly, I certainly won’t complain. 🙂 Feel free to invite anyone who might be interested.

I mean, what else is there to do now university is over for the year?

If you do decide to come along, I’d ask that you dress nicely, cover any tatts and do your best to look presentable in the public eye and behave politely at all times (even if the police do get aggressive). If anything does happen, you can guarantee that the media will be there to observe.

Read more about Greg’s hunger strike and how you can support him.

‘Backyard pot grown for health: survey’

Have you found my website after reading a story about a cannabis cultivation study that is still looking for participants?

If this is you, please go to

And if you are Australian, go straight to

Thanks to Melissa Jenkins of AAP for filing the story on interim results from the study, covered in:

Sky News

Daily Telegraph

Herald Sun

The Australian

The West

Adelaide Now


Last night Episode 4 of Enpsychedelia was released. Along with some other great content, it features an interview with me about the cannabis growers project and other musings on drug policy, the influence of research on government and collective action towards critically evaluating and reforming our drug laws.

You can listen here:

Thanks Nick Wallis for the opportunity. Hope to do it again and looking forward to the next installment.

Drugs and online/offline sociability

Wow it’s been months since I’ve posted. Never fear, I’ve been working away, launching projects and trying to finish off others. Looking forward to writing some dedicated blog posts soon.

In the meantime, an announcement that I’ll be presenting some work from my PhD at VSURF (the Victorian Substance Use Research Forum) next Friday, see below. I’m looking forward to it! 🙂

Date: Friday August 17, 4pm

Title: Drugs and online/offline sociability: Understanding anonymity in an era of media convergence

Presenter: Monica Barratt (NDRI, Curtin University)

Venue: Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, 54 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Abstract: Most research about illicit drugs and the internet treats the internet as a tool for consuming and sharing information, delivering interventions, and/or purchasing drugs. In contrast, this paper considers the internet as facilitating multiple ‘online places’ where social interaction occurs, relationships are made and maintained, identities are performed and meanings are negotiated. This paper draws on analyses from a qualitatively-driven mixed-method study of public internet forums where party drugs were discussed by Australians in 2007–08. It outlines the variety of ways that people who use party drugs managed the convergence of online and offline friendship networks and subsequent changes in their drug use practices. In a context of increased media convergence, online anonymity has become more difficult to realise, and new social-media interventions that rely on identified social networks cannot be as easily engaged by ‘hidden’ drug users. ‘Old’ pseudonymous media (e.g., internet forums) may still offer opportunities not afforded by new media forms in the current context of drug prohibition.

More Silk Road

Over the last 7 days, Silk Road has been in the Australian news media again, with an announcement last Friday by the AFP that they had arrested 20 people as part of an ongoing operation targeting drugs sent through the post.

Last week I really enjoyed being the guest on RRR’s Byte Into It, a weekly technology program. And earlier this week I was one of a number of experts involved in Hack’s story on drugs in the mail: they also interviewed representatives from the AFP, Customs and Australia Post, as well as Australians who had received drugs via post.

Listen to Byte Into It (16 May 2012)

Listen to Hack (21 May 2012)

Next week I’ll be presenting at the ISSDP conference (International Society for the Study of Drug Policy) in Canterbury, Kent, UK. I’m looking forward to being immersed in a more international perspective on drug policy issues as well as being able to meet face-to-face so many researchers that I’ve only ever read or emailed!