Cannabis in Australia

 Cannabis is the most widely used drug that is considered illicit and prohibited in Australia. It is estimated that around 750,000 Aussies consume marijuana on a weekly basis while 300,000 citizens smoke weed every day. Australia ranks as one of the highest in the world for marijuana usage frequency. Recreational marijuana is still widely restricted in Australia, but medical marijuana was legalized in 2016.

When looking at the history of marijuana in Australia, it was first brought to the country after Sir Joseph Banks requested for it. Cannabis had widespread use in Australia in the 19th century and it was popularly consumed by the members of the literati as an intoxicant.

Also, the author of the Australian novel “For the Term of his Natural Life,” Marcus Clarke, experimented with marijuana as something that would help with writing. Clarke was able to write a short story titled “Cannabis Indica” while he was under the influence of marijuana. Cannabis was later used as medicine for asthma, cough, bronchitis, hay fever, influenza, and shortness of breath.

Australia Bans Marijuana

By the 1920s during the Geneva Convention on Opium and Other Drugs, Australia faced the issue of marijuana in their country. Marijuana was then banned for recreational use and was restricted solely for medicinal and scientific purposes. In the 1930s, Australia enacted state and federal laws prohibiting the use of the drug because it was seen as a social problem. Despite many advertisements proclaiming that marijuana was an “evil sex drug,” it did not stop the increase in the demand for the drug.

Comeback in the 60s

In the 1960s, marijuana, heroin, and LSD were widely used in Australia due to the opposition of the Vietnam War. In 1964, it was found out that there was wild hemp growing in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales and it covered hundreds of acres. Authorities hoped to eradicate the wild hemp but groups of people, mainly surfers and hippies, frequently took trips to the area to look for the hemp before it was removed by authorities.

Australians Love Cannabis

Cannabis usage is most common among Australians who are in their 20s and 30s but it is also frequently used by those aged 14 and above. It was found out that one in five teenagers in Australia aged 14-19 has used cannabis. One gram of cannabis is priced at A$10-A$15 per gram.

The number of cannabis users in Australia continued to increase in the 1970s until the 1990s. By 2012, marijuana seeds are openly purchased in health food stores. Last year, Victoria became the first state in Australia to legalize marijuana for medical usage. However, doctors remain reluctant to prescribe marijuana-based medicines. Around 100,000 Australians are estimated to be using cannabis to treat medical conditions, but only 150 are doing it legally.

Doctors continue to say that medical marijuana should not be the first option but only a last resort. Medical cannabis advocate and United In Compassion founder Lucy Haslam said in a public statement that terminally ill patients are forced to get medical marijuana from the black market because doctors in Australia won’t prescribe it despite the legalization of the matter in Victoria.

Australia - A Cannabis-Friendly Place

Marijuana usage in Australia remains very popular to this day. Just like other countries, Australia is gearing towards the use of marijuana for the medical field. All in all, Australia continues to become a more cannabis-friendly place where it is more widely accepted.