A Review of Australian public opinion surveys on illicit drugsA strong trend since the 1998 NDSHS (National Drug Strategy Household
Survey) has been a hardening in attitudes towards cannabis, a review from Australia revealed. The review, published by National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in December 2008, analysed a range of illicit drug opinion surveys conducted in the country.
Cannabis is now more associated with “a drug problem”, is a greater concern to the general community, its use is approved of less than in 1998, and there is also less support for cannabis legalisation and decriminalisation, it is pointed out in the review.
In 2004, 25 per cent of Australians approved use of cannabis compared to 10 per cent in 2007.
The strongest support for legalisation of cannabis was observed around
1998 and since then the support has been declining down to 19 per cent in 2007.
Certainly there has been an increased interest in the link between cannabis and mental health, with new evidence showing the link between cannabis use and disorders such as schizophrenia; It is possible that an increased research and policy focus on cannabis and mental health has affected public opinion on this matter, says Pr Ritter from the Drug Policy Modelling Program at the University of New South Wales, one of the authors of the review.
The change in attitudes to the cannabis legalisation has not resulted in support for increased penalties. The majority of the Australians would like to see increased spending for education and treatment.
Source: ECAD Newsletter, 26. Jan. 2009