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Removing Federal Restrictions on Cannabis? Australians Want Less Drugs, Not More
Almost all Australians, according to the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey of 25,000 Australians, do NOT give approval to the use of the illicit drugs heroin (99%), cocaine (98%), speed/ice (99%), ecstasy (97%) and cannabis (86%).[i] It is safe to conclude from these statistics that Australians do not want increasing drug use, but less drug use.
Cannabis legalisation in the United States has increased drug use as well as social harms.
Colorado and Washington legalised cannabis in 2013. Comparing the two year average 2013/14[ii] with the pre-legalisation 2011/12, Colorado’s cannabis use was as follows:
Adult use increased by 63% in the first year after legalisation against increases of 21% nationally. In 2013/14 Colorado adults ranked #1 for cannabis use in the United States, up from #7 in 2011/12 and from #8 in 2005/6.
College-age use (ages 8-25) rose by 17% against increases of 2% nationally, within the first year of legalised cannabis use. In 2013/14 Colorado college-age students ranked #1 for cannabis use in the United States, up from #3 in 2011/12 and from #8 in 2005/6.
Adolescent use rose by 20% against decreases in other states of 4%, despite use of cannabis being illegal for all under the age of 21. In 2013/14 Colorado youth ranked #1 for cannabis use in the United States, up from #4 in 2011/12 and from #14 in 2005/6. In school year 2015/2016, 62 percent of all drug expulsions and suspensions were for marijuana violations.
Other social harms were:
Road fatalities related to cannabis use rose by 62% by 2015, from 71 to 115 persons since 2013 when recreational cannabis use was legalised.[iii]
Hospitalisations likely related to cannabis increased 32% in the two year average (2013-14) since Colorado legalised recreational marijuana compared to the two-year average prior to legalisation (2011-2012).[iv]
Cannabis legalisation has led to more drugs, not less drugs. Adult cannabis users in a state with medical cannabis laws in 2010 already stood at around 400,000.[vii] Under legalisation that had increased by an additional 200,000 by 2015. That is 200,000 more opened to increased risks of psychosis, depression, suicide, drugged driving, altered brain function and death from pulmonary and cardio-vascular conditions.[viii]
Drug Free Australia
[ii] https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHsaeShortTermCHG2015/NSDUHsaeShortTermCHG2015.htm see also “2011-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Model-Based Prevalence Estimates (50 States and the District of Columbia)” and graphs of stats at https://www.sheriffs.org/sites/default/files/2016%20FINAL%20Legalization%20of%20Marijuana%20in%20Colorado%20The%20Impact.pdf
[vii] Calculated from 8.86% of Colorado’s population in 2010 vs 12.45% of its increased population in 2014