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Prevalence and Issues Relating to Cannabis Use among Prison Inmates: Key Findings from Australian Research Since 2001

NCJ Number
Jason Payne; Sarah Macgregor; Hayley McDonald
Date Published
February 2013
6 pages
This research brief presents information on the prevalence and issues related to cannabis use among prison inmates in Australia.
The brief presents a consolidation of research findings from studies conducted in Australian prisons since 2000. Key findings from the research include the following: the majority of inmates have used cannabis at least once in their life, with lifetime use estimates ranging from 81 percent to 88 percent; the prevalence of lifetime cannabis among prisoners use varies by gender, however this finding was not consistent cross all studies; the national study examined the juvenile detainee population and found that the results suggest higher rates of lifetime cannabis use when compared with adult prisoners. Additionally the studies found that the majority of prisoners who had used cannabis in the months leading up to their imprisonment did so at least once a day; approximately one-in-three prisoners reported using cannabis while in custody; two in every five prisoners released from custody expected to use cannabis upon their release and the expectation of post-release drug use was a significant predictor of re-incarceration; and around half of all male prisoners released from custody reported using cannabis after being released. The brief also contains detailed overviews of the studies included in the research. These studies include the Drug Use Careers of Offenders Study (2001-2005); the Survey of prisoners in NSW (2007-08); the Post-Release Experience of Prisoners in Queensland (PREP-Q) (2006); the NSW Inmate Health Survey (2009); the Health of Prisoner Evaluation (HoPE) Pilot Project (2009); and the Health of Australia's Prisoners - National Prisoner Health Survey (2010). 7 references