A new survey has found 41.1% of Australians believe cannabis should be legalized, representing a significant rise in support from 2013 when 25.5% of respondents backed the reforms, the Guardian reports. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey also found an increase in the number of Australians who had used cannabis at some point in their lives from 33.5% in 2001 to 38.1% in 2019.
Don Weatherburn, a professor at the University of NSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and a co-author of the analysis, suggested that cannabis use in the nation has “gradually become more prevalent, probably because the law has become less draconian.”
“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. … 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.” — Weatherburn to the Guardian
Weatherburn added that the survey also found that citizens of Australia have shifting attitudes toward criminal justice and drugs, supporting “treatment and education” over “prison and punitive sanctions.”
“Even though people are not supporting the legalization of these drugs,” he said in the report, “they are supporting a different kind of approach to the traditional imprisonment, high fines, [and] supervised orders.”
Separately, a University of South Australia study published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters in August found cannabis use in Australia spiked during coronavirus-related lockdowns last year.
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