April 23, 2021


4:00 pm AEST



About this Event

VSURF aims to showcase early career researchers in the alcohol and other drugs field, providing them with an opportunity for a long-form presentation of their research. In April 2021, we are excited to be hosting Dr Anna Ross, coming to you all the way from the University of Edinburgh (virtually!), to present her recent work reflecting on identifying as a drug using drug researcher.

In 2015 I started a PhD in drug policy at the University of Edinburgh. It had been a long journey, and at the age of 34, with two small children I was looking at getting a steady career under my belt. However, the area of research, and my passion, is drugs policy, specifically why it is that people who use drugs are criminalised when there is so much evidence, and anecdotal experience, about the positive role they play in creating community, creativity, enhanced social enjoyment, therapy and relaxation. Having used drugs, both legal and illegal, since the age of 14, and having seen many aspects to drug use, I felt (and feel) passionately about the unjust laws that govern my behaviour. Yet this passion (and drug use) could also expose me to prejudice that would prevent me from getting a professional job, or be taken seriously as a professional in the drugs field.

This internal struggle became a paper that I presented to at the 2016 International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) in Sidney, Australia. There I presented a paper entitled ‘Getting Voices to the Policy Table: The role of drug consumers and experiential knowledge in measurements of drug related harm’. The paper created buzz of conversation between many of the participants, and inspired four of us to go off and investigate the topic in more detail.

At the ISSDP conference in 2017 the four authors conducted a workshop. In it we asked participants to deliberate on the risks and benefits of coming out about personal drug use in the context of research and teaching, ability to influence policy and public debates, and personal lives. The workshop was one the busiest of the conference, and attracted a range of academics. The themes stemming from this workshop became the basis of the 2020 article, and went some ways to breaking the silence on academic and drug researchers drug use. Although we do not explicitly ‘come out’ in our paper, we explore the implications of both coming out, and staying in.

The presentation will introduce the findings of our article, and discuss the wider issues around coming out as a drug user and drug researcher.



Anna Ross is specialist in drug policy stakeholder engagement, with her PhD focusing on the participation of stakeholders in the development of drug policy in Scotland. She is currently a Senior Teaching Fellow in the School of Health at the University of Edinburgh, and an Honorary Research Assistant for Drug Science. Anna completed her graduate studies in Law at the University of Edinburgh, followed by a Masters in Alcohol and Drugs Studies, and a PhD in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. She  has worked for the Scottish Government on developing safeguarding protocol for charities, and the UK Government as the Special Advisor to the Scottish Affairs Committees Inquiry into Problem Drug Use in Scotland. In addition she has been on a range of advisory committees in Scotland, and set up the Scottish Drug Policy Conversations: a multi-stakeholder deliberative group exploring drug policy issues in Scotland.

Anna Ross has over 20 years experiences of practitioner work with substance use, including cannabis, and identifies as a lived and living experienced researcher. She is passionate about the human rights based approaches to drug regulation, and the developing research around cannabis use for therapeutic and medicinal application, as well as the potential of psychedelic assisted therapy.

Event Details

Meeting ID: 860 526 70843
Day: Friday 23 April 2021
Time: 4pm AEST (Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane), 3:30pm ACST (Adelaide), 2pm AWST (Perth), 7am SCT (Edinburgh). Time and Date link here if you live elsewhere!

This talk is also co-hosted by RMIT’s HASH Network (HASH: Health, Arts, Social sciences and Humanities). HASH provides a space for people engaged in interdisciplinary research to share ideas, present their work and discuss pressing topics of research methods and theory, impact and engagement.

By Published On: April 12, 2021Categories: Events, Past Events

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