Australia: Cannabis support is more favorable than smoking tobacco

Regular cannabis use now more accepted by Australians than smoking, study finds

The National Household Survey conducted as part of the Drugs Strategy reveals growing Australian support for tougher penalties for supplying cigarettes to minors and a crackdown on e-cigarettes

Regular cannabis use has become more accepted than smoking tobacco, according to the latest National Household Drug Strategy Survey (NDSHS). The 2019 data, compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and released on Friday, surveyed around 20000 people aged 14 and over about their attitudes towards drugs. She revealed that, for the first time, 20% of respondents supported the regular use of cannabis, compared to 15% for tobacco.

As cannabis has become more widely acceptable, more Australians have come out in favor of tougher smoking penalties, matching the drop in the number of smokers nationally.

Around 85% of Australians favor tougher law enforcement against supplying tobacco to minors, while around seven in ten think the use of e-cigarettes or e-cigarettes should be restricted in public places .

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Support was highest in the ACT, with 72% in favor of restricting the use of e-cigarettes, compared to 61% in the Northern Territory. At the same time, a record two in five Australians now support the legalization of cannabis, an increase of 16% over the past decade.

In some areas, including Sydney, support for cannabis legalization has reached 60%. In Melbourne, 57% of respondents believe the drug should be legalized for personal use, while 47% of Brisbane residents support its legalization.

In the ACT, where the drug has been decriminalized since 2020, some 66% of Canberrans support its legalization for personal use.

These findings follow a growing global trend towards the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. Some 19 US states have legalized the drug, joining a string of countries including Canada, Spain and Uruguay.

They also tracked the surge in support for marijuana legalization at the polls. The micro-party Legalize Cannabis garnered between 2 and 7 percent of the Senate vote in the May federal election in most states and the Northern Territory, although he did no advertising during the campaign.

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Jarryd Bartle, associate lecturer at RMIT and drug policy consultant, said the reforms that have taken place in the United States and around the world are likely linked to the growing trend of support for cannabis legalization in Australia.

"It was a demonstration that a legalization model could work here," he said.

“Legalise Cannabis' achievement of a significant proportion of the vote is another indication that there is – particularly among young Australians – a trend in support of legalisation. There is evidence that legalization does not lead to an increase in the number of regular cannabis users, nor does it encourage those under the age of 18 to obtain cannabis…these are good signs in favor of the legalization. »

All states and territories currently practice some form of decriminalization, but the differences vary in terms of the amount considered personal use and the penalties offered. South Australia was the first state to decriminalize minor cannabis offenses in 1987, introducing the option of paying a fine instead of receiving a criminal charge. Decriminalization is, however, distinct from legalization.

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