New Poll Shows Australians Support Cannabis More Than Tobacco For The First Time In History
Attitudes around marijuana are changing all around the globe, which is fantastic news for people everywhere.
Now, even Down Under, more Australians are supporting cannabis compared to tobacco for the first time ever in history. The Australian government has made drug law reforms so that there is significantly less stigma around the drug, enabling more people to access the medicine that they need.
The results of a 2019 survey have just been released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, asking 20,000 people over the age of 14 about their opinion on drug. They found that 20% of participants said they support cannabis use, a five-percent increase more compared to those who support tobacco – a record-breaking change. Additionally, support for marijuana legalization increased 16% from 2010 while 41% supported legalization, and 37% were opposed to it.
Around 4 in 5 respondents said that they wouldn’t use cannabis even if it was legalized but the ratio of people who would use cannabis if it was legal jumped from 5.3% in 2010 up to 9.5% in 2019.
The data also revealed the support for marijuana legalization was highest among the major cities in Australia including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. The highest ratio of support was found in Canberra, where 66% of respondents favored legalization, not surprising given the liberal approach the Australian Capital Territory is known for when it comes to marijuana policy.
Similar findings were revealed in a survey whose results were published on December 2021. Researchers in Australia assessed the results of the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which takes place every 2-3 years. The last one, also conducted in 2019, found that support for marijuana legalization down under was at 41.1% in 2019, a large improvement from 25.5% back in 2013.
According to Don Weatherburn, a professor at the University of New South Wales’ National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, the increase in support can be attributed to the rise in marijuana consumption. “It’s gradually become more prevalent, probably because the law has become less draconian,” he disclosed to The Guardian. “Most states now have some form of cannabis cautioning scheme, which makes the drug somewhat less stigmatized than it had been back in the 80s and 90s,” he said.
“It’s also partly true that the people who first tried cannabis are now in positions of authority in and around government and major institutions,” he says.
Cannabis In Australia Today
Australia legalized medical marijuana at the federal level back in 2016. Since then, the cannabis industry as well as its culture has evolved and grown significantly. According to Prohibition Partners, the legal marijuana market in Oceania is seen to reach US $1.55 billion come 2024.
Recreational use is still a pipe dream, and the medical industry is strictly regulated. Despite this, the public continue to embrace the use of marijuana which is wonderful for breaking down the stigma. However, accessibility varies based on the states and territories as each gets to set their own rules, much like how state governments in the USA determine the legality and other rules surrounding accessibility for medical marijuana use, if any.
Getting access to medical marijuana in Australia is no easy feat, though: patients have to follow a complex set of steps to get prescriptions or legally access them, while doctors who want to write prescriptions for it have to make an application in order to do so. Patients who have one of several conditions can apply for MMJ prescriptions from their doctor, including those with pediatric or adult epilepsy, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy-induced nausea or vomiting. In addition, patients in palliative care may also apply though it’s a case to case basis.
Legal MMJ will fall under either approved or unapproved categories at the moment in Australia. Despite this, patients can access both types through a licensed medical practitioner. The approved MMJ products have already been registered by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, assessed for its safety, quality, and effectiveness. As of the time of writing, only 2 MMJ products have been approved in Australia: nabiximols, also known as Sativex, which contains a proprietary blend of CBD and THC for treating spasticity in patients with Multiple Sclerosis. The other is CBD under the Epidiolex brand, a laboratory-made CBD preparation which is used for treating epilepsy.
Patients who want to access the unapproved MMJ products have to go through the Special Access Scheme (SAS) or Authorised Prescriber Scheme (APS). In addition, there are other products available that can be consumed in a range of consumption methods such as vaporization, liquid capsules, oils, sprays, and topicals. But the Therapeutic Goods Administration still doesn’t approve smoking marijuana.
Some cannabis products can be obtained through certain pathways that enable patients to get a hold of marijuana from Europe or Canada. These may include raw flower for vaporization, sprays, liquids, and oils.
Over the past few years, Australia has seen growing support for marijuana legalization across all territories and states. It is wonderful that the government has stepped forward to decriminalize it while treating marijuana use as a health problem instead of one that is criminal. However, more reform is needed to make it more accessible to the public but while interest is growing, change is expected to be slower than most would hope.