Marijuana Markets in the Czech Republic and in the U.S. – different low level drug policy approaches and harms

Speaker: Vendula Belackova (Charles University in Prague, First Faculty of Medicine, Centre for Addictology, Czech Republic)

The presentation aims at assessing the impact of different drug policy approaches, comparing drug policy change at one locale and a different drug policy approach overseas. Both policy evaluation and cross-cultural aspects are included in the analysis. Methods: In 2009, 108 semi-structured interviews were collected in North-Central Florida, US, where a restrictive approach with respect to marijuana supply reduction policy can be found, and in the Czech Republic, EU, where a relaxation in marijuana related laws, inexactly referred to as „legalisation“, took place. A quantitative dataset of NSDUH for the U.S. and a comparable general population survey in the Czech republic were analysed in order to identify differences in marijuana market patterns; Outcomes: (i) Comparison of marijuana markets patterns and harm under different drug policy frameworks with the use of comparative qualitative and quantitative datasets; (ii) description of patterns and processes governing marijuana markets and social acquisitions of marijuana on a retail level; (iii) design of evidence-based drug policy recommendations; (iv) impact of low level police enforcement on marijuana market patterns and user culture. Grant support: Foundation Open Society Institute (OSI – ZUG)

CV: Vendula Běláčková graduated in Economic Policy in 2007 (Prague University of Economics, Faculty of Economic Policy and Public Administration) with a focus on economic perspectives of drug issues, such as illegal drug market analysis, social costs of drug use and analysis of effectiveness of drug policies and services. She is expanding this topic within her work at the Center for Addictology and her PhD. studies at the University of Economics. In 2008 she also graduated in Addictology (1st Faculty of Medicine, Charles University), and in Media Studies (Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, subsequently a Bc. in Journalism at the same faculty). Her research interests thus overlap into media representations of drug issues, and into drugs in the area of web 2.0. Between the years 2003 and 2006, she also worked for Hospodářské noviny(economic news), a quality economic daily. In the course of the academic year 2008/2009 she was engaged as a Fulbright visiting research scholar at Florida State University, College of Social Sciences, Florida, U.S.