Weed More Acceptable Than Tobacco Among Aussies

Stephen Andrews
21 Jul 2022

Results from Australia's latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) reveal that cannabis use is now preferable to smoking tobacco. The data was compiled in 2019 by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare and released on Friday, July 15. The survey quizzed around 20,000 people aged 14 and above about their views on drugs.

The survey found that 20% of respondents favored the regular use of weed, outperforming 15% who said they supported tobacco. It's the first time a survey shows cannabis is more trending than tobacco in the Land Down Under. The findings align with the country's growing acceptance of weed and approval for higher penalties on tobacco use. The country has also seen a steady decline in tobacco smokers.

The NDSHS results show that 85% of Australians agree that the country should impose harsher measures against supplying minors with tobacco. A majority of correspondents also said the use of e-cigarettes should be restricted in public spaces as well.

When it comes to cannabis, a record two in five Australians said they support legal cannabis, a climb of 16% since the last decade. The majority in favor of legalization were respondents based in areas such as Sydney (60%), Melbourne (57%), and Brisbane (47%).

In most states and territories in Australia, cannabis remains illegal to use, possess or grow. A rare exception is the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) which contains the capital of Canberra, where in 2019, a bill was passed to allow for possession and growth of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. The bill went effective in January 2020 despite it conflicts with federal laws that prohibit marijuana.

According to the latest survey, 66% of Canberrans supported the legalization of cannabis for personal use. Moreover, 82% of correspondents in the ACT thought possession of weed should not be a criminal offence, which is close to the national 78% score on this question.

While Canberrans are at the forefront of cannabis reform in Australia, at the political level, the movement is supported by the Legalise Cannabis Party, formerly the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP). The micro party picked up between 2% and 7% of the Senate vote in the May federal election in most states, without using advertising during the campaign.

Data from the Australian Electoral Commission show that Legalise Cannabis was backed by approximately half a million supporters, the biggest number of primary votes since the party's foundation in 1993. Its platform includes policies like allowing Australians to homegrow for personal use, reducing the cost of medicinal marijuana, and changing drug driving laws

The Australian cannabis movement is also supported by initiatives such as the MardiGrass annual cannabis law reform rally and festival, scheduled to take place in September this year, to be hosted traditionally in the tiny village of Nimbin in northeast New South Wales. The beginnings of this annual cannabis rally and celebration also go back to the early 1990s.

Stephen Andrews