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Study Finds Australians Support Cannabis Use Over Smoking Tobacco

We’re all well aware that attitudes around cannabis are shifting around the world. Now, a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study analyzing 2019 data from Australia’s 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) sheds new light on just how much progress the Land Down Under has made surrounding cannabis perception, as well as beliefs around other substances.

NDSHS is a survey that examines the attitudes and perceptions in Australia about drug-related matters. It also measures public opinion on various substances.

In 2019, around 22,000 people were surveyed about their views on drugs. The results showed that 20% supported regular use of cannabis, a higher percentage than those who support smoking.

To add to this belief, the study found that more Australians supported stricter tobacco laws as cannabis use grows in acceptance. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), at 72%, supported restricting public use of electronic cigarettes. This is compared to the 61% who supported it in the Northern Territory.

In general, 85 percent of the respondents supported tighter enforcement laws to prevent minors from buying or selling tobacco. Respondents were opposed to raising tobacco taxes or increasing taxes on tobacco to finance health education. However, 18% and 17% supported these policies.

In contrast, the percentage of people who support legalization of cannabis in their communities has increased to 41% from 25% in 2010, and 25% in 2010. It was the first time in history that Australia saw more support for legalization than opposition (41% to 37%).

Australians also have loosened their penalties for cannabis possession in comparison to 2010. The 2010 survey showed that 34% thought possession of marijuana should be considered a crime, while 22% said it was. Respondents were asked whether they believe that penalties for the supply of cannabis should increase. 60% answered yes in 2010, while 44% did so in 2019. Respondents were asked whether they approved of adult cannabis use. The number rose from 8% approval in 2010, to 20% in 2019.

Though, nearly four in five (78%) of respondents said they still wouldn’t use cannabis, even if it was legal. It has increased from 5.3% to 9.5% between 2010 and 2019. Moreover, 11% would attempt cannabis if it was legal in Australia, compared to 7.5% of Tasmanian respondents.

Additionally, the study explores alcohol abuse and illegal drugs.

The most popular positions of Australians were for more harsh penalties for drunk driving, and stricter enforcement against minors supplying alcohol. This was supported by 84% of respondents and 79% respectively. The majority of respondents opposed raising the cost of alcohol. 47% said it should be increased and 40% supported.

However, in 2019, 45% of adults approved regular alcohol consumption by adults. This approval rate is higher than for any other drug. The approval level was highest than the disapproval for this drug.

Since 2010, support for the legalization other drugs has increased slightly. Support for cocaine legalization rose from 6.3% to 8% in 2010 and for ecstasy legalization rose from 6.8% up to 9.5% in nine years. The support for legalization of heroin (5.6%) and meth/amphetamines (4.6%) has remained about the same.

Nearly half of Australians (57%) supported the ability to permit people access to designated locations for testing drugs or pills. But support varied depending on location. The most popular support for small-sized drug users was to refer them to educational programs or receive treatment.

Cannabis was the only exception, as more than half (54%) of exponents supported “a caution/warning or no action,” with 24% supporting referral to treatment or education programs.

These findings were not all that are available. The NDSHS shared an interactive map with data to show how alcohol, tobacco and cannabis responses vary by region.

Looking ahead, the study notes, “The 2022 survey is currently in the field and will be completed in early December 2022. Households are randomly selected to complete the survey and have their say.”

Nine years have passed and a lot has happened. With the growth of the cannabis market worldwide showing no signs of slowing down in the near future, the attitudes towards cannabis in Australia will change as well. Keep it up.