Institute for the Study of Psychoactive Substances

The Institute for the Study of Psychoactive Substances was established to expand our understanding, through anthropological research, of substances that specifically affect patterns of thought and behaviour in the individual and in society, and to promote cross-disciplinary models that contain a significant anthropological component; for instance, anthropology and forensic science, anthropology and ethnobotany, anthropology and psychiatry, anthropology and pharmacology.


Research and the distribution of information are the two principal functions of the Institute.


The principle research project currently being conducted by ISPS is C.R.I.S.P. (Cannabis Resin Impurities Survey Project).

C.R.I.S.P. combines social anthropology and chemical analysis to study the health implications of the consumption of commonly available, adulterated and contaminated, cannabis resin, known on the streets as ‘Soap Bar’.


Through D.I.G. (Drug Information Group) ISPS provides drug awareness teams as part of event support for music festivals. The teams circulate through an event audience as participant observers, distributing the bottled water and information leaflets that are also available at the advice and recuperation sites. Feedback from the team is analysed and reported to event organisers to assist in the development of future support strategies.


ISPS provides an Expert Witness service to the Law Courts in the United Kingdom and has been commissioned by Defence Lawyers and by the Crown Prosecution Service on more than 500 occasions. DOWNLOAD PDF LEAFLET


ISPS Director of Research is Neil M Montgomery MSc MSc (Research) FRSA FRAI. In relation to substances, his work has a particular focus on purity and dosage and in terms of behaviour his broad interest is in forms of consciousness.