Even though the country federally legalized medical marijuana in 2016, there remains a significant stigma around weed in Australia. The access to medical marijuana is limited and highly regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
What’s more, there are different rules at the state and territory level. And any sort of recreational marijuana remains largely illegal.
This puritanical view of weed is what keeps the stigma alive throughout the country – despite the good it’s doing for those who are able to access it.
A Country In Need
Just as in the United States, patients in Australia use medical marijuana for managing chronic pain, nausea as a result of chemotherapy and cancer, and anxiety and depression.
Even so, Australians who wish to take medical marijuana are required to access it through special pathways. Furthermore, doctors are required to apply for the option to prescribe it. All of this rigamarole renders the leaf rather taboo.
As such, many Australians who reveal that they’re legally using medical marijuana face backlash from not just society at large, but at their jobs as well.
The Stigma Around Weed In Australia
Given that medical marijuana is completely legal, Australians felt it was safe to declare their use of medical marijuana to their employers. Such declarations have put some at risk of losing their jobs though.
A mechanic from New South Wales informed his employer that he was prescribed medical cannabis for anxiety and depression. This prompted discussions between the company’s HR department, his doctor and his union. His employer required him to do a drug test at work while considering next steps.
The mechanic passed the test, but was eventually laid off with two weeks’ pay. Eventually his employer said he either had to stop using marijuana or find another job.
Meanwhile, an electrician from western Victoria was prescribed medical marijuana for sleep three years ago. He let his employer know at that time. But a year ago, the company instituted a new policy that prohibited the use of THC.
He continues to take medical marijuana but is constantly worried that he will be drug tested and lose his job. And he needs to provide for his family.
It’s not all bad news though.
Are Attitudes Shifting?
It’s obvious that medical cannabis in Australia faces a stigma that’s not applied to other medications. And it IS medicine.
When an office worker shared with her employer that she was prescribed medical cannabis for anxiety and sleeping issues, she emphasized how the medication actually improves her productivity at work. She said she would lose her job if she couldn’t use marijuana. Fortunately her employer was more open-minded and allowed her to continue use.
For these folks, they believe that talking openly about how helpful marijuana is as a medication is the best way to break the stigma. And it could be working. Public support for legalization has doubled in six years.
The most liberal of the states is the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) which passed a bill in 2019 to legalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. ACT residents over the age of 18 can carry up to 50 grams of dry cannabis or 150 grams of wet material. They can also grow as many as two plants per person.
So yeah. Progress.
Is the Stigma Around Weed Affecting Your Business?
Perhaps the stigma around weed in Australia will lift. At least they’ve made medical marijuana federally legal – which is more than we can say for the United States.
So if you have a cannabis business that’s not getting the attention it needs because of the stigma that still exists here, contact us today.
We’ve been in the business of cannabis marketing for nearly a decade and we know what works.