You know that cripplingly irritating feeling you get when you realise that you yourself know more about cannabis than the vast majority of experts? When those who pretend to know what they are talking about try to tell you what to do, how cannabis works and why you’re in the wrong…even though you’re not?
Well you’re certainly not in the minority. You only have to read any of the nonsensical anti-pot ramblings of British MPs on any given day to know exactly what we’re talking about. But it seems that for the very first time, the reality of this ‘inverted expertise’ has been both brought out in the open and flagged as a topic worth discussing. At a recent conference at the University of York, a group of national experts was warned that heavy cannabis users seeking advice, assistance or treatment often have knowledge and expertise that goes exponentially further than that of those they turn to for advice.
Or in other words, those who are preaching like there’s no tomorrow and are supposedly experts on cannabis don’t know as much about the stuff as the average stoner. But then again, it’s hardly surprising.
These days, there’s very little stigma whatsoever about being a recreational cannabis smoker and nor is there any stigma whatsoever attached to quitting…if you see fit to do so. The UK health service offers a wide variety of options and resources for those wishing to quit, with studies having shown that the number of people actively looking to cut down or quit cannabis entirely has increased by more than 60% over the past decade.
The only problem being that according to results of this particular study – co-penned by researchers from the University of York and the University of Leeds – those that are providing advice and assistance are dangerously uneducated or misguided on the subject of cannabis use.
“There is this ‘inverted expertise’ around cannabis in which the users have all the up-to-date knowledge of the local markets and the service providers are lagging behind,” said Dr Mark Monaghan, lecturer in criminology and social policy at Loughborough University.
“This can have a significant knock-on effect for the kind of services they are providing. Cannabis users are quite knowledgeable in what is going on in terms of the market,”
“The providers are slightly lagging behind in terms of their knowledge base. Because they are lagging behind they don’t have intelligence on what the consumers are using; it creates this situation where they don’t really know what to do.”
His primary concern centred around the fact that those seeking to ‘improve’ things for the public in general really have absolutely no idea what’s going on at street-level or how cannabis culture has evolved over recent years. The UK gov’s attitudes to cannabis use may be painfully archaic, but this doesn’t mean cannabis culture and public attitudes in the UK have not changed considerably.
Not only this, but cannabis products and available methods for using cannabis are also evolving all the time – something those supposedly ‘in the know’ are far from up to speed with.
“We need to know what people are using and we need to offer them evidence-based treatments,” Monaghan added.
“Treatment across the sector is really variable. We do need more research on the changing nature of the cannabis market. We need to explore the reason why more people are presenting to treatment centres.”