The annual cost of cannabis use to Australian society is more than A$4.5 billion (£2.5bn), recent academic research has estimated.
The report, published by Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), revealed that over a twelve-month period, Australia’s two million cannabis users created a significant financial burden on workplaces, healthcare provision and the criminal justice system.
The researchers believe “lost quality of life” for users and their families, including harm caused to “those living with a person dependent on cannabis”, could be costing a further £6 billion.
In 2017 around ten per cent of all Australians aged 14 or older “reported that they used cannabis in the previous 12 months”. Over 150,000 of these were said to be ‘dependent on cannabis’.
The researchers said that although cannabis-related crime was “a major component” in the findings, cannabis consumption also imposed a “considerable” workplace cost and “cannabis disorders” increased the risk of hospital admission.
The study further revealed that around one in ten child protection cases was thought to be related to cannabis use, and 23 deaths were attributed to the drug, “predominantly from road traffic accidents”.
Professor Steve Allsop of the NDRI said: “I think it’s important to recognise that those costs don’t just impact on the individual user.”
The study’s findings bear close resemblance to many of the dangers associated with cannabis outlined in The Christian Institute publication Going soft on cannabis.
In it, the Institute outlines its evidence-based findings on areas such as: the risk of addiction, the damage caused to health, how cannabis users jeopardise road safety, and the devastating effects of the drug on families.