Recreational cannabis is illegal in Australia, but very easy to obtain online
Cannabis is a very popular drug. This is true around the globe, but especially so in Australia -- cannabis is by far the most widely used illicit drug in the country. Despite its illegality, a surprising number of Australians use marijuana. In 2013-14, there were 66,684 cannabis arrests in Australia.
Total marijuana arrests in Australian, 2013-14
In 2016-17, there were 77,549 national cannabis arrests, while the number of national cannabis seizures has also increased over the decade, from 41,661 in 2007–08 to 60,006 in 2016–17. Cannabis use doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, even with widespread knowledge of its illegality.
Purchasing the drug is quite simple in Australia. There are several options available, most of which come with a range of risks. Given its illegality, the current recreational cannabis market is an underground, black market, of which sales are generally conducted through street channels.
However, there is another way to purchase cannabis. Regular cannabis users report that cannabis is very easy to obtain, especially through online websites.
Australians are buying and selling cannabis online
Full disclosure: It is still illegal, at least for now, to buy either medicinal or recreational cannabis online in Australia. Still, an alarming number of consumers manage to obtain cannabis from online sellers.
Illegal cannabis is not sold just on street corners or in shady car parks; it is now just a mouse click away on the most popular websites. Online marijuana sellers sell the drug in coded ads on Craigslist and other classifieds sites in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and beyond. In August 2016, nearly 200 posts offering cannabis appeared in Melbourne-based Craigslist ads, 94 ads appeared in Sydney listings, and 130 ads were noticed in Brisbane listings.
Recently, a Facebook group called Vegetables Sydney was noticed for selling drugs in the name of vegetables, including cannabis as broccoli. Earlier in April 2018, the Australian police shut down a Facebook group known as Vegetables Australia for selling illegal cannabis. However, mirror pages for Vegetables Australia and other pages related to popular cities have surfaced on the social platform.
Although there are websites that actually go through with fulfilling cannabis orders, that isn’t always the case. There are many fake websites that promise to deliver high-quality marijuana to your doorstep. They only aim to scam you and take your money without sending anything.
Penalties for buying and selling cannabis online in Australia
Laws and penalties for selling and buying cannabis online vary in each Australian state and territory. For instance, in the Australian Capital Territory, buying and possessing up to 25 grams, or two non-hydroponic plants, leads to a fine of 100 Australian dollars (AUD).
In South Australia, buying a small quantity of marijuana is decriminalised, but growing cannabis attracts harsher penalties. In Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, buying and selling cannabis is a criminal offence.
In Western Australia, a person buying 10 grams or less of cannabis receives a Cannabis Intervention Requirement notice to attend a mandatory one-on-one counselling session. Quantities larger than this results in a fine of $2,000 AUD or two years in jail, or both. Selling cannabis online attracts fines of up to $10,000 AUD for sales to adults and jail for up to two years, or a fine of up to $24,000 AUD for selling to minors.
Buying synthetic cannabis online
Synthetic cannabis is also illegal in Australia, in every state and territory, for both online and offline sale. However, synthetic products are being illegally sold as an alternative to ‘real’ cannabis.
Marketed as a combination of legal plants and herbs, these products are sprayed with ‘synthetic cannabinoids’ or the chemicals made in a lab and designed to give the same ‘high’ as THC in real cannabis. But they can have more unpredictable effects and are significantly more harmful than recreational marijuana.
Legal cannabis costs when bought online vs black market cannabis in Canada/United States
In Canada, the price in the government-regulated cannabis market is a bit more than the national average per gram on the black market. The price is $8, plus $1 excise tax and $1.17 sales tax in the government’s legal online cannabis industry, whereas the drug costs $6.79 per gram in the black market. The government’s regulation and taxation system may burden their ability to completely dismantle the black market.
However, the quality of products obtained from the black market is unknown. In fact, there have been many cases of major illnesses and even deaths following the use of marijuana obtained from the illegal black market.
You can obtain legal and good quality cannabis in Australia only if you are a qualifying patient and only via an approved doctor. All other ways of getting marijuana in Australia are illegal, and perhaps even unsafe. However, cannabis use continues to grow, even with knowledge of its illegality and other risks. Given its popularity, several options for purchasing the drug are available. Transactions are generally street affairs, but one can also buy cannabis online in Australia.