Cannabis self regulation in a harm reduction perspective

Research period



European Commission, DG Migration and Home Affairs




Mafalda PARDAL

In collaboration with: Tom Blickman (Transnational Institute), Xabier Arana (Universidad del Pais Vasco), Heino Stöver (Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences), Dirk Korf (Bonger Institute, University of Amsterdam), Vibeke Asmussen Frank (Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research / Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus University).

Key words

Harm reduction; prevention; cannabis use; self regulation; drug interventions; qualitative analysis


This research project is part of a larger study called ‘New Approaches in Harm Reduction Policies and Practices’ (NAHRPP) and forms a particular work package which is carried out by the Institute of Social Drug Research (ISD). The ISD is also involved in another work package of this project, namely the ‘comparative analysis of cannabis regulation models in Europe’.

Background and goals

The main objective of this project is aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of harm reduction strategies and the prevention of risky use behaviours among cannabis users through the development of a self-regulation model in drug interventions which can be implemented by public drug services and civil society stakeholders. This study is focused on innovating and enhancing the harm reduction and risk limitation approach on can­nabis use, and - as a related effect - on the reduction of the demand of cannabis on the illicit market and a reduc­tion of drug related offences. Furthermore, the goal of this study is to compare and evaluate approaches, best practices and tools as well as developing new operational models (including 2.0 web tools) aimed at supporting self-regulation and moderation of use. Lastly, this project aims to increase the collaboration between public drug services, users’ and civil society associations and stakeholders to promote a proactive, global approach to cannabis use.


A review of European research and scientific literature on evidence and best practices as well as qualitative research – focus groups and interviews – will be performed (in Belgium, Italy and Spain). Data gathering is focussed on innovative individual and group practices to self-regulate use and ways of risk reduction. Furthermore, applied strategies by users who followed an online counselling tool (developed on the basis of qualitative research findings on controlled/uncontrolled drug use) will be studied. Lastly, an European expert seminar will be organised to share findings from research and best practices in order to develop a self-regulation model.

Expected output

The out­comes of this study will be published in a scientific research report and several recommendations and guidelines. Furthermore, an European international experts' seminar will be held on cannabis use regulation models from a harm reduction perspective. Based on the research findings, this expert seminar and peer-to-peer evaluation, information and recommendations will be spread to the drug networks at regional, national and European level.