Responding to articles in today’s Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, Dr Nils Braakmann of Newcastle University Business School, clarifies his provisional research findings, which are part of a working paper ‘Cannabis consumption, crime, anti-social behaviour and victimization – Evidence from the 2004 cannabis declassification in the UK’.
The research, which was recently presented at the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society, is still in the early stages and does not demonstrate an absolute increase in real-terms in cannabis consumption since declassification.
In fact, the increase presented is a relative increase between previous consumers and previous non-consumers, pre and post declassification, of between 18-26% depending on a number of social and demographic variables. This does not therefore represent an absolute increase in consumption and it is misleading to represent this research in this way.
This situation does, however, raise some interesting questions for educators. The difference between absolute and relative difference is significant in this case, and shows how important it is to understand these terms before we interpret them in any meaningful way.
I look forward to sharing the findings when the research is complete, at which point it would be appropriate to interpret the research in a social context.
Dr Nils Braakmann