Almost three quarters of small-scale cannabis growers in Australia are doing so for their own medicinal use according to preliminary research findings from Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute (NDRI).
Of 440 Australian responses to the question ‘Why do you grow cannabis?’ 74% answered it was ‘to provide myself with medical cannabis’ while 25% said it was for medical use by someone else.
Meanwhile, 48% said they grow their own to avoid contact with criminals; 60% said they did so for their own recreational use; 54% believed the cannabis they grow is healthier than the cannabis they can buy; and 45% said ‘the cannabis I grow will never contain adulterants’.
Only 6% said they grow ‘so I can sell it’.
Along with colleagues from RMIT and UNSW, the team at NDRI are conducting the Australian arm of the second international survey on cannabis cultivation, which is running in almost 20 countries.
The first international survey ran in 2012 and informed cannabis policy considerations in several countries, including the decision in Australia to decriminalise use and small-scale cultivation in the ACT.
NDRI Professor Simon Lenton said providing medicinal cannabis for personal use was the most common reason growers in Australia gave for cultivating themselves. By contrast, medical cannabis ranked sixth as a motivator overall across all countries taking part in the survey.
He added: “Growing for personal medical use appears much more common in Australia than most other countries and the proportion of Australian growers reporting medical use as a motivator substantially increased from the first survey – from 54% in 2012 to 74% this year.”
“This likely reflects shifts in the policy landscape over the past decade, where new legal and medical regimes have brought medicinal cannabis to the forefront of discussion around public health policy.”
The second online survey is still open, and NDRI researchers are appealing to Australian cannabis growers to have their say by anonymously sharing their experiences, motivations and views on policy.
The survey aims to better understand patterns of domestic cannabis growing, and how they differ across borders, to inform local and global cannabis policy.
While almost 7,000 growers have already completed the survey globally, researchers say more Australian growers are needed. To participate, click here.