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Cannabis reform: It's time for change

Australians are increasingly in favour of moving towards a regulated cannabis market for adult use. Our outdated approach of criminalising cannabis is not only out of step with community sentiment, but it is causing real harm. In poll after poll, the upward trend is clearwe are ready for change.

Join us as we seek a pathway for cannabis regulation that works for the community, not against the community.

The results outlined on this page draw on recent research commissioned by Penington Institute and conducted in late 2023 by RedBridge Group with a Victorianonly sample. The research was designed to better understand the nature of community perspectives on cannabis and how we might address the harms of our current approach to managing cannabis. 

The pressure is mounting.

A clear majority (54%) of Victorians are now rallying behind the introduction of a regulated cannabis market for adult use. This is almost twice as many people as resist change and is the highest level of support for regulation rather than criminalisation seen in an independent survey.

The current approach allows revenue to continue to flow through to criminals. A carefully regulated market would disrupt the flow of profits to the criminal market, protect people from dangerous products, and provide greater opportunity for those struggling to seek advice and support.

We know that all sorts of people use cannabis. It’s time to stop criminalising them by pushing for careful regulation that will draw these consumers away from uncontrolled products in the criminal market to safe, regulated products, while prioritising community health and safety. 

>> Download a copy of the research now.

>> Share your story with us.

Only 21% of Victorians think that our current laws work well to prevent harms from drugs. ​

Time for sensible policy reform.

People across the community have voiced their concern that current laws don’t work well to prevent harms to the community from drugs. They can see that criminalisation fails to protect people and in fact causes greater harms.

“When it comes to cannabis laws, Australia is long overdue for reform. Data shows that the current prohibition approach is not just failing, it is causing real harm”

People are particularly concerned about the impacts on young people and that if we do nothing, our situation will only worsenThere is overwhelming and growing support for a new direction, one that helps us all to better protect our community and our young people share your story or thoughts with us to join the conversation. 

Understanding relative harms.

Australians see the error in the way we have determined what is legal or illegal, and rightly place the risk of harm to community at the centre of the conversation. The community regard cannabis as significantly less harmful than other illicit drugs, and much less harmful than alcohol. The community can see that our current approach to managing cannabis is resulting in more harm than good.

“As a community, we have enormous goodwill toward our young people: their education, care and protection. But the criminalisation of cannabis sits in striking contract to that kind of care and support. It alienates young people and fails to support their wellbeing.”

66% of Victorians believe that we need to focus more on education about drugs for young people, rather than punishment through the criminal justice system.

A better way.

An overwhelming majority of Australians see the sense in approaching the management of drugs with a focus on education over a criminalisation. The community is clearly calling for new approaches to drug management that shows respects them and supports individual agency. Regulating cannabis can offer opportunities for us to ensure that the community has the information and resources it needs to allow people to make responsible choices, reducing overall harm to individuals and communities alike.

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>> Donate to support our work on cannabis regulation.

It's time for change but what happens next?

As an independent public health not-for-profit, Penington Institute supports changes to drug policy that work to improve public health and safety outcomes and reduce other harms to the community. For cannabis, we’re embarking on a project to develop a model for a regulated adult-use cannabis market. 

If you would like to be involved, there are several ways: share your story with us, donate to support our work, help us get the message out about cannabis reform by sharing this page, or contact us for anything else. 

“A Penington Institute style evidence-based approach to law reform is essential to make meaningful reductions in crime, fairer and more equitable laws and improved community safety and confidence in government.”

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