There are a surprising number of Cannabis conferences in Australia
The Future Of Cannabis Conference is just one of what might be an unexpectedly large number of similar Australian events, organised by the community which takes an interest in the subject.
FACTOthers cannabis events include The International Conference On Cannabis which takes place in Sydney, again, on the 15th and 16th of November this year. and The Hemp Health and Innovation Symposium in Melbourne on the 8th and 9th of December.
This year’s ‘Future Of Cannabis’ event appears to have done little beyond confirming data points and opinions which have been stated elsewhere. It took place, however, at a time when discussions around Cannabis legalisation have taken on a more realistic feel.
The current Australian sentiment about recreational cannabis
Some points from the conference which jumped out at me:
FACT35% of Australian adults believe cannabis should be legalized for recreational use.
- This is in line with the 2013 Roy Morgan report we show on our home page which suggested that, in that year, about 33% of Australian wanted legal recreational cannabis. Given the margin of error in those reports, it would be hard to say that support had grown over the 2013 – 2018 period.
- Legalisation of Australian Recreational Pot may come in 2023 to 2025:
Experts at the conference believe that legalisation of recreational pot could take place in between 5 and 7 years – consistent with other estimates we’ve seen. Although, events elsewhere in the world show that, once a decision is made, those timeframes can be substantially reduced, given popular support and political will.
- The market for cannabis has strong economic benefits: Bloomberg believes that Cannabis will be legal in most European states by 2028 and the market will have grown to be worth $128 Billion. Australia stands to benefit to the tune of approximately $300 in tax revenues, should recreational cannabis be legalised.
91% of Australians support legalisation of medical cannabis
- Almost everyone supports medical cannabis:
91% of Australians now support the use of medical cannabis. It’s worth considering the demographic nature of the people who support cannabis legalisation, too. Those who use cannabis tend to be middle aged and affluent – exactly the sort of voter that political parties tend to woo.
- The number of cannabis prescriptions issued at this stage are limited:
According to news.com.au (source link above) – experts believe it’s only a matter of time until cannabis is available over the counter although, currently, it can only be prescribed for 6 conditions, and, as of the time of writing (August 2018), only slightly over 1000 Australians have received a prescription for the drug. On the face of it, this number seems low although experts at the conference suggest that Australia has progressed further in this regard than other countries who legalised marijuana for medical reasons.
Bringing it all together
What makes now such an interesting time in Australia is the overlap of public sentiment, corporate interest and the potential political ramifications of the interaction of those things.
As we’ve seen from the Sydney conference on cannabis, as well as in other places, public sentiment is leaning towards accepting cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use. The change will most certainly require a change in law and therefore government political pushing – a process which has shown at least some domestic progress in the last 12 months with the interest of the Greens in legalising cannabis. Perhaps most importantly, global corporate interests are now lobbying government towards the change.
In the background, there are fair questions about the risks associated with legalisation. If Australia is to legalise, it should be done with full consideration of the lessons learned overseas.
These things said, the best estimates surrounding potential dates for legalisation here are still several years hence. And, unfortunately, it must be said that the Future of Cannabis event received very little by way of real press coverage at the time, potentially belying a lack of focus and suggesting that, while the idea has growing support and an ever number of factors pushing towards legalisation, what’s really needed, is for the issue to become commonly discussed so that both sides of the debate can be reasonably examined.