The United Nations World Drug Report 2012 has found that Australian and New Zealanders consume more marijuana per capita than any other country.

It's just too easy

The findings of this report are unsurprising.The proliferation of cannabis among underage Australians is shocking. Marijuana is easier for a 16 year old to acquire than any other illegal substance. 

In Australia it is illegal for a person under 18 years to buy alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana unlike alcohol and cigarettes is not regulated, making it more accessible for underage persons. It’s not uncommon to hear of people as young as 14 smoking marijuana.

“There is always a friend of a friend or an older person you can get pot from,” says Annie. The first time Annie smoked pot was in Year 9 she was 15 years old. “We walked up to my friend’s dealer’s house in our school uniforms.” previously reported cannabis is globally the most used illicit substance.

Australian’s are punching above their weight with 9.1 to 14.6 percent of the population using cannabis compared to the world average of 2.6 to 5 per cent.

In Australia there are multiple reasons why marijuana has become the poison of choice for many of our teenagers.

Marijuana can be cheaper to purchase than alcohol or cigarettes. With the introduction of the alcopops tax and the rising cost of cigarettes, five teenagers can buy one “stick” or one gram of marijuana for $20. 

This relatively cheap and accessible drug has seen many of Annie’s friends smoke pot. Currently still in high school Annie says that about 25 percent of people in her year smoke pot regularly. 

For Annie and her friends they like the impacts weed has on them better than alcohol and other drugs. “Weed is more of a chill out. For me it’s only about getting giggly,” says Annie.

Dealers will either home deliver to kids or meet them in a convenient side street or alley. 

Even creating a bong to smoke the marijuana is easy. All it takes is a vitamin water bottle, a bit of hose and a cone piece. Cone pieces are easily purchased from tobacconist’s shops for around $4.

Buying any device which is used for the administration of prohibited drugs by smoking or inhaling is illegal. Yet cone pieces are easily bought in shops or in bulk on eBay. 

When questioning Annie she was not even aware that her buying a cone piece was illegal

“Heaps of my friends have bought cone pieces in their school uniforms,” 

“It’s pretty obvious what it’s being used for,” she said. 

Teenagers also undertake a hunting ritual known as “hose cutting”. Accompanied with scissors or an army knife they will attack suburban front lawns and steal hose cuttings.  “It’s better to get it from a random than your own home.” 

Teenagers who smoke Marijuana are doing so most weekends. In Annie’s experience she started smoking every day in the Year 10 holidays. 

Annie says that she wasn’t getting back to her normal self the next day. “I couldn’t put my sentences together. I started to freak out and I didn’t do it for a year.” 

After the self imposed hiatus she now smokes pot on the weekends. Annie is currently a Year 12 student undertaking her HSC. 

“Most of my friend’s parents have no idea what their kids get up to. My parents have no idea.  I think it’s a pretty hard thing for parents to pick up on.”

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    • MatLon says:

      06:23am | 29/06/12

      This article has just put forth a multitude of reasons for education/regulation/taxation.

      The drug war failed the moment it started, it’s over, the drugs won, they will always win. Humans have been using mind altering substances since the first caveman picked the first magic mushroom, it will never change.

      Drug use needs a scientific, un-sensationalised debate in this country devoid of moralising. Illicit and prescription drug use/abuse in this country has never been higher, yet we still roll out the same old ‘tough on drugs’ rhetoric which changes nothing, wastes police resources and tax payer money.

      Anyone who suggests we continue the same course we have for the last 50 years is dopier than any pothead.

    • jarred says:

      06:27am | 29/06/12

      This is exactly why we should legalize it, regulate it and tax it .
      We can’t stop people who want to smoke it from smoking it. After on hundred years of prohibition this seems obvious to all but our politicians.

    • Economist says:

      10:19am | 29/06/12

      It can be legalised tomorrow. Simply apply to the TGA, the application form, and provide scientifically proven evidence that it is safe and has no long-term effects. Simple. Why hasn’t it been done because there is no evidence.Is there a double standard with alcohol, yep.

    • Clayton says:

      02:33pm | 29/06/12

      don’t forget tobacco. The stuff I coughed up a few years after quiting confirmed that I would never smoke again.

    • Chris L says:

      04:24pm | 29/06/12

      Proving it has no long term effects is rather extraordinary. Cars spit out far more carcenogens. Fast food can have serious long term effects. Pretty much anything, in sufficient quantities, will hurt or kill you.

      The only thing that needs to be acknowledged is that prohibition not only fails to stop people using it (as it did with alcohol) but also encourages and assists crime (which is often funded by drug sales).


      06:30am | 29/06/12

      Hi Cassie,

      Is it the actual hardship of living in a great country such as Australia or our drug laws being too relaxed or the young generation looking for stress management or lastly we are simply failing at getting the right message to our children about drug and alcohol use!  That message should always be that any mind altering and habit forming drug use could be very harmful to their young bodies and minds. 

      Drug use at a very young age, just like smoking and drinking alcohol are generally the easy ways of coping with everyday stress and peer pressure.  I do have one question for parents though, “are they fully aware of the long term complications of such behavior”?  And “do they really know where their children happen to be and are they worried at all”? Experimenting with drug use may seem harmless fun and a hobby to pass the time, in the very beginning.  But the reality of this particular issue is quite serious indeed, especially when we look closely at the reasons why such young and healthy people turn to drugs instead of other ways of coping with stress.

      As parents, care givers and a society it is high time that we began to reconsider our priorities once again.  And teach the young generation to have a good time without the presence of so called harmless drugs!  So that they do have the chance to reach their true potential firstly and as a community try to find out the very reasons why the young generation is simply taking the easy way out instead of fighting for their future, ideals and goals. Kind regards to your editors.

    • Bertrand says:

      06:37am | 29/06/12

      “In Australia it is illegal for a person under 18 years to buy alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana unlike alcohol and cigarettes is not regulated, making it more accessible for underage persons.”

      Indeed. The arguments for a legalised and regulated system of production and distribution are myriad. This is one of them. A drug dealer has no qualms with breaking the law so will sell to children at whatever age. A properly licensed store owner who runs the risk of losing their business would be less likely to do so.

      Further, many kids are under the mistaken impression that cannabis consumption is not harmful. A legalised and regulated system that uses the funds raised from taxation to run serious health campaigns,similar to the anti-cigarette campaigns that helped reduce the number of cigarette smokers in Australia, makes more sense.

      But don’t let logic and common sense interfere in the discourse on drugs that exists at a political level in this country.

    • rat says:

      06:46am | 29/06/12

      Holy sh*t, teenagers smoke pot!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Who cares about the asylum seeker debate, this earth shattering revelation should take centre stage.

      “Marijuana unlike alcohol and cigarettes is not regulated, making it more accessible for underage persons. It’s not uncommon to hear of people as young as 14 smoking marijuana. “

      Because it IS uncommon for people as young as 14 to binge drink?

      How does this warrant an article? I’m sure any person on the street could have told you this tale as common knowledge even when acotrel was a lad.

    • Matchofbris says:

      06:53am | 29/06/12

      Can’t stand drugs, but prohibition obviously doesn’t work. In this context, it only seems to make marijuana more appealing - especially price wise, as the author has pointed out.

      Article itself is pretty poorly written.

    • Chris L says:

      04:28pm | 29/06/12

      Yeah, but the author is pretty so she gets a pass.

    • Trevor says:

      07:09am | 29/06/12

      Full legalisation is the only moral way forward on this issue. It would go a long way to fixing the economic mess we are in too.

    • Matchofbris says:

      09:02am | 29/06/12

      Can you imagine,the Government would just love to introduce the new High-As-A-Kite Tax (HAAK Tax). Weeeeeeeee!

    • Feral says:

      09:49am | 29/06/12

      They could also then introduce a “munchies” levy as an added Green initiative.

    • Al says:

      07:33am | 29/06/12

      Of course even should cone pieces disappear it wouldn’t stop.
      They can be easily manufactured (from drink cans etc) and there is always the other option using cigerette papers.
      So many don’t seem to understand that by legalising it they would be better able to control who has access to it (such as young school children) just as they do for alchol and cigerettes and porn (all bad examples as of course they get their hands on these as well, but a least the government would be able to tax it and control the types sold, so that the THC component is regular and can be balanced against the anti-psychotic components, which high level THC containing varieties have in very low or entirely missing quantities). It may even save some of those poor suburban hoses….

    • Bongs101 says:

      03:44pm | 29/06/12

      Even easier than drink cans is just a bit of foil pushed into the hose with a hole at the bottom!

    • gobsmack says:

      07:50am | 29/06/12

      When I smoked marijuana I avoided the home made bongs.

      The smoke is carcinogenic enough without it passing through a plastic garden hose.

      Victoria recently banned the sale of bongs and other smoking paraphenalia.

    • ME says:

      08:12am | 29/06/12

      You’d have to be a pretty selective stoner who doesnt ‘share’ a pipe/bong. Altho yes, I have known many people to bring there own paraphenalia. They would get a few wierd looks as the bong went round, but still get stoned I guess. Would take a fairly independant teenager, maybe through parenta/adult education, to take that stance. We all are hopefully aware that as youth we tempt in a myriad of adventures, all with risks, that sometimes we dont see the real realities of addiction and health risks. In some ways, I wish I not only avoided sharing bongs, but also smoking them at all, for as long anyway, but admit I liked it. With legalisation, all causes have effects.

    • year of the dragon says:

      08:26am | 29/06/12

      I can just see you sitting around lecturing your mates about the cancer danger from the garden hose as you sucked toxic chemicals and mind and body altering drugs into your body. Some things never change. 

      In any case, spliffs are far more social (and convenient).

    • Inky says:

      08:39am | 29/06/12

      “Victoria recently banned the sale of bongs and other smoking paraphenalia. “

      They did? I haven’t walked past one in a month or two, but I’ve seen plenty of tobaconists with bongs lining the front window. How recently are we talking here?

    • Jeremy says:

      08:40am | 29/06/12

      I don’t always smoke, but when I do I roll up and watch movies with Brendan Fraser in them (or sit at the beach).

      I think paraphernalia got banned here in NSW too. I always understood that a bong was officially a ‘tobacco water-pipe’, but never understood the excuse for glass crack pipes?

    • gobsmack says:

      09:48am | 29/06/12

      The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Prohibition of Display and Sale of Cannabis Water Pipes) Act 2011 came into operation on 1 January 2012.

    • Blind Freddy says:

      10:19am | 29/06/12

      “Victoria recently banned the sale of bongs and other smoking paraphenalia”

      “I think paraphernalia got banned here in NSW too.”

      The Liberal nanny states? Qld next . . .

    • ME says:

      10:39am | 29/06/12

      Year of the Dragon - Nah, Im not a reformed educator. Just the same as I didnt sit around with ‘aware’ adults smoking a spliff, I actually dont sit around with youngens who smoke pot either. Not since about , oh I dont know, 17 years ago now.  Nice spin on that tho.

    • year of the dragon says:

      11:25am | 29/06/12

      ME says:10:39am | 29/06/12

      “Nah, Im not a reformed educator. Just the same as I didnt sit around with ‘aware’ adults smoking a spliff, I actually dont sit around with youngens who smoke pot either. Not since about , oh I dont know, 17 years ago now.  Nice spin on that tho.”

      Huh? A bit self-absorbed there mate.

      Given my reference to the “garden hose” I would have thought that it was very obvious that this comment was directed at gobsmack.

    • ME says:

      11:59am | 29/06/12

      Year of the Dragon - Chill. Kind of states the obvious but you are a tad critical there in assuming my self absorbedness. After all, it is your unconstructive comment in response to Gobsmack that set this whole cascade of ridiculous banter in the open.  Come on, be honest. What response looking for?

    • Chris L says:

      04:34pm | 29/06/12

      “In any case, spliffs are far more social (and convenient).” - Not if the person before you drools!

    • Brett says:

      08:01am | 29/06/12

      How times have changed… Kids today, getting their hands on “a vitamin water bottle, a bit of hose and a cone piece” so that they can smoke drugs.  Terrible stuff.
      In my day we used an orange juice bottle (Orchy I believe was th preferred brand). Drinking be juice first was much better for us then some “vitamin water”.
      Legalize, regulate, tax.

    • Sancho says:

      12:17pm | 29/06/12

      Potato pipe too good for rich people, eh?

    • stoner age liberal says:

      03:31pm | 29/06/12

      We always liked Breaka Bottles here in queensland, the pastic was nicer and wouldnt split. Even just a coke can on its side with some holes punched through it. The can opening bit was good for making the holes.

    • Aidan says:

      08:30am | 29/06/12

      These kids are mad!!!

      Don’t they know that shit makes them eat people’s faces off?!?!

    • Chris L says:

      04:36pm | 29/06/12

      Not if you plan ahead and have some corn chips on hand.

    • Budz says:

      08:41am | 29/06/12

      Not only marijuana. I know back in Wagga it was common for the under 18’s to get ecstasy and have raves because they were too young to go to pubs too.

    • Sancho says:

      12:20pm | 29/06/12

      And that’s another reason for legalisation.

      How often does someone buy a case of beer and say to the cashier, “hey do you know where I can get some pills, too?”

      And when it does happen, how often does the cashier say “yes”?

    • youdy beaudy says:

      08:57am | 29/06/12

      It is a thing regarding correct parental guidance that is the problem and also a sociological issue. We go on about all this Socio political stuff on the media everyday and through it we don’t give a lot of future hope to our kids, so consequently they will try drugs and they have peer group pressure to deal with as well. I can’t believe that older people don’t know that. Children are the same from generation to generation. The kids need some hope for the future to be sure but it doesn’t seem to be there for them as they tend to promote negativity all the time in the media and in society generally.

      Then there is the problem of Pharma. drugs that doctors prescribe. Many millions on drugs which are deemed by the stroke of a pen legal with many of them prescribed treating causes and creating the break down of other organs of the body.

      Young people should be educated in that while their brains are growing and their nervous systems etc. they should avoid Alcohol and other Drugs completely. Older people should be allowed the legal use of Indian hemp as for them it has health benefits. It is a herb that has been used for thousands of years and is documented in the Chinese and Indian systems.

      As one wrote on here. You can’t stop the use of drugs, whatever type they are. We can’t be with our children 24 hours of the day can we. So unless we educate them in the right way there is always the possibility of drug use and that includes alcohol the worst of them all. Alcohol is a narcotic and is sold legally and you can buy and consume as much as you like as long as you don’t drive or cause problems for others. Australians are a race of Alcoholics mainly as are Europeans as well. We promote the use of this narcotic quite freely.

      Indian Hemp on the other hand is not narcotic, wears off its effects in a few hours and gives a tranquil effect. So, why not make the narcotic Alcohol illegal and tobacco too. Why not, because there is money to be made through excise, the tax that isn’t really a tax but an excise. Very convenient, that, don’t we think.

      So to finish this. Legalize for older people. You can make tea out of it for arthritis and fibromyalgia which are too diseases of the older ones and much suffering comes out of those illnesses for people. They are just a couple of illnesses where it can be of value to the elderly.

      Young people, stay away from drugs of any sort and let your life develop naturally as usage may leave your brain undeveloped and your future not good. It is a problem with the young but education and Parental guidance would be the key to success but we must remember that we all have free will.

    • bobby zimmerman says:

      09:21am | 29/06/12

      Everybody must get stoned!

    • Al B says:

      10:05am | 29/06/12

      An honest article ...finally someone gets to why some folks prefer cannabis to alcohol ...Its a nicer buzz and certainly has less impact on others when u measure it honestly. People dont choose weed because they are ‘druggos’. In fact i’d question to faculties of anyone who chooses to drink when they have access to something better.

      Want to reduce the harm done by alcohol? Legalise more of the competition. On balance we’d be so far better off is beyond ridiculous. But the raids continue LOL.

    • Gerry W says:

      10:53am | 29/06/12

      Easy to pick the brain dead druggies here.

    • miloinacup says:

      11:59am | 29/06/12

      Care to name names, Gerry W?

    • Bertrand says:

      12:24pm | 29/06/12

      I would suggest the brain dead one is the person unable to see past the stereotypes and misinformation in order to develop an opinion on drug control strategies that reflects reality.

    • stonerage liberal says:

      03:38pm | 29/06/12

      So Gerry, got a trade qualification, how about a tertiary degree, kept a job for lots of years, manage to cope with opsocial situations? I am curious as to your own how you correlate (lets not even talk causation) druggy and brain dead together and what your criterion would be because most of my first thoughts fail when applied to myself

    • Peter Thornton says:

      12:09pm | 29/06/12

      There are two sides to this argument: #1 the already legal recreational drugs such as alcohol, nicotine & much of pharmacology are responsible for so many problems in our society why bother introducing another? Or # 2 There are so many existing problems in our society caused by the already legal recreational drugs what difference does it make if we legalise one more?
      It’s not hard.

    • Sancho says:

      12:29pm | 29/06/12

      For convenience, I’m going to C/P from a comment I made on another blog:

      1. Tobacco is not only a harmful drug in itself, but encourages cannabis abuse. Cannabis users who mix their pot with tobacco smoke far more pot than those who don’t, because, unlike many drugs, once you’re stoned off your gourd you don’t get any higher by consuming more.

      Mixed with tobacco, however, the smoker keeps coming back for the nicotine hit and consuming more cannabis in the process.

      So, from that point of view, tobacco is still as harmful as ever, and cannabis use is actually preferable.

      2. Apart from being convenient, cannabis is smoked because it’s the most cost-effective way of consuming something that grows on trees but is very expensive. If prices became more reasonable, many users would eat it instead, which may offset the respiratory disease burden.

      3. A recurring theme of these discussions is an assumption that legal access to drugs will result in an outbreak of crippling addictions.

      Legalisation would certainly increase the number of addicts, but from the population of people who are prone to addiction, who are already using the legal alternatives.

      It’s well established that the most severe drug addicts are opportunistic: heroin might be their drug of choice, but if they can’t get that, they’ll take speed, or alcohol if that’s what’s left.

      That’s why there’s been such an outbreak of methamphetamine use. It’s a horrible drug that no user would preference, but it’s cheap and easy to make and therefore widely available.

      For those reasons, we don’t know how many people would, for example, wean themselves off a ravaging alcohol dependence onto a much safer pattern of opioid or cannabis use.

      The other assumption in that vein is that it’s necessarily crippling and degrading, as though everyone who likes a joint in front of the telly or an oxycodone with their strong black is headed inexorably toward rehab, but there’s no evidence to support those assumptions.

      4. Regarding the farming and environmental effects of cannabis, commercial crops are far more likely to be indoor hydroponic affairs than outdoor plantations, which comes with hazards, but not strictly those of outdoor farming.

      5. I don’t care much for the argument that modern societies aren’t obedient enough to authority to be allowed access to mood-altering drugs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant.

      I would say, though, that the human weakness for drug addiction is greatly overstated, and that access to cannabis and opioids won’t lead to otherwise happy, productive people turning their lives over to drugs.

      Research into pain management addressed the concerns of hospital patients that using morphine for pain during treatment would turn into opioid dependence, and found it to be completely false.

      Neurologically, emotional pain is the same as physical pain, and heroin addicts are simply doing for their brains what a doctor does for a patient in agony. There’s no inherently addictive quality to drugs, and I say that as someone who TRIED to become a cigarette smoker as an adolescent, but couldn’t get into it.

      So, it’s great that there’s some discussion happening about the legality of drugs, but it still rests greatly on uninformed assumptions people make about drugs and drug users.

    • Al B says:

      12:40pm | 29/06/12

      Thanks for posting it ...i agree on the cost effective aspect. Baking is very expensive, i tend to use already vaporized weed for mine but that takes a while to build.a stash… Using actual weed in brownies, well if i could grow…

      Other thing im finding with these synthetic herbal blends (lol) is i am smoking jays again as they taste awful in the vape. Id take the original option more if there was an open commercial market. And happy to pay some taxes too.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      03:36pm | 29/06/12

      Excellent post Sancho. Are you the same guy from Orgazmo? Don’t answer that, I’m going to assume you are and go with it.

    • Sancho says:

      03:47pm | 29/06/12

      Those synthetic things are terrible, terrible concoctions. It’s like the moonshine people drank during prohibition.

      Legalisation ensures quality control.

    • Sancho says:

      03:54pm | 29/06/12

      I’m not a porn performer despite being highly qualified.

    • Al B says:

      04:15pm | 29/06/12

      Yes sancho agree, with synthetics its volunteer guinea piggism ...not for human consumption. There is risk to all substances, cannabis has a much better knowledge base that these new variants. But under this prohibtionist system, its where the market will go.

    • renold says:

      02:26pm | 29/06/12

      Just follow the lead of The Netherlands and you find there be less pot puffers, less petty crime, hence less victims and Government makes money out of it.

    • Sancho says:

      03:51pm | 29/06/12

      I challenge you to find even one person who has committed crime to fund a cannabis habit.  This is exactly the lack of nuance and easy conflation of radically different drugs that prevents any meaningful debate.

    • Up in smoke says:

      04:19pm | 29/06/12

      Sancho…you’re stoned…yes?

    • renold says:

      04:55pm | 29/06/12

      @ Sancho
      I was actually in the Military Police in The Netherlands and stationed in Amsterdam when changes regarding cannabis were introduced.

      There was a dramatic decline in petty crime and hence less victims of petty crime

    • italy 2 germany 1 says:

      04:05pm | 29/06/12

      australia and new zealand should legalise marijuana, cannabis, and marijuana cultivation. They are good for lots of things and uses!
      you can make clothes out of these substances! you can stop colds!
      marijuana is good for you! its better than tobacco and alcohol. And its Green.
      smoking is a health hazard anyway.
      if you want thev votes of the Greens, then legalise marijuana, canninbis and marijuana cultivation.

    • Baike says:

      09:15pm | 29/06/12

      Cassie, you need to put down the bong and study harder at UTS. This article reads like someone copy/pasted a series of dot points from a medical statistics journal and interspersed them with quotes from “Annie”.

    • James says:

      10:30pm | 29/06/12

      “In Australia it is illegal for a person under 18 years to buy alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana unlike alcohol and cigarettes is not regulated, making it more accessible for underage persons.”

      Then by your logic regualting (thus leagalising) marijuana would increase the amount of teenagers taking it. A poorly researched article with very little factual information. I am all for legalisation of marijuana, but your article fails to convince me this will deter teens.

    • thomas vesely says:

      10:36pm | 29/06/12

      OK, i have legalised it !!
      now enjoy…........

    • stephen says:

      11:03pm | 29/06/12

      Smoking the stuff is probably a political act in that it is a form of rebellion and the young want to belong to a wave of like-minded dudes and when they get older, they know that sex is fun, so is drugs, so are clothes in fancy colours, but then they remember all this stuff as dogma and it was only a smoke like transport to adulthood.

      Adulthood is the objective, and the use of a drug is infantile and this is why I am so against legalized drugs : it makes the user childlike and give him/her an innocence, a new personality which they feel will renew them.

      The antidote is a new sense of individualism, (this is ironic, and will not lead to nazism) in that the emphasis on intelligence is wrong, and school testing in any form is bad, and the smart do not always get ahead, and it is OK for any person to fail.
      It’s OK, really.

    • Paul Pot says:

      05:21pm | 31/10/12

      If Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana on Nov 6 I wonder will we finally start to talk rationally about legalizing drugs?

    • louis vuitton bags says:

      11:12am | 30/11/12

      Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. A great read. I’ll definitely be back.


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