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#054: Delving into digital drugs with Dr Monica Barratt

By Jordan Michaelides

Dr Monica Barratt ( @monicabarratt ) is a social scientist at Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, based out of the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Monica’s research concerns the social and public health implications of internet technologies for people who use illicit drugs, and the impacts of legislative responses to drugs.

She is particularly interested in how we respond to the emergence of novel drug trends (like the Silk Road) and how these trends are enabled by digital technologies. This has allowed Monica to engage hard-to-reach networks behind the Dark Web, in conversations about research and policy.

Drug policy, and the use of psychoactive drugs, has fascinated me since I developed a generalised anxiety disorder in my early 20s. In other episodes we’ve engaged psychologist Dr Stephen Bright, and criminologist Dr James Martin. By including a sociological perspective, we can all better understand the mechanics and implications of using such drugs in society.

This is another meaty episode where we focus on the topic of drug policy, prohibition and the current social commentary around it – especially in the digital space.

In this episode we covered:

  • Silk Road and the media
  • Positive outcomes of the darknet
  • Case of Preston Bridge
  • How Ross Ulbricht was caught & his court case
  • Early career and how she got started
  • The internet’s role in the growth of new drugs
  • How the internet is used today
  • Censorship, human intelligence & human error
  • Drug use and how humans have evolved
  • The future of drug policy
  • Her experience reaching hard-to-reach networks
  • Max Keiser and RT

Listen to the episode

Watch the episode: 

SHOW NOTES:

02:11 – Introduction
05:06 – Her work and career highlights
08:48 – Silk Road and the media
12:08 – Positive outcomes of the darknet
17:46 – Case of Preston Bridge
19:37 – How Ross Ulbricht was caught
21:46 – Early career and how she got started
29:37 – The internet’s role in the growth of new drugs
31:35 – How the internet is used today
37:40 – Censorship, human intelligence & human error
42:31 – 2015 Drug policy alliance conference
46:10 – Drug use and how humans have evolved
50:17 – The Ross Ulbricht court case
55:05 – The future of drug policy
01:04:44 – Changes in perception
01:16:34 – Her experience reaching hard-to-reach networks
01:29:47 – Research participants
01:32:31 – Morning & evening rituals
01:34:23 – Favourite books and docos
01:37:27 – Max Keiser and RT

Links: