Most cannabis in Australia consumed by daily users – study

A new study estimates that 81% to 85% of all cannabis was consumed by the 16% of all Australian cannabis users who used it daily.

Weekly users and daily users together accounted for an estimated 98% of all cannabis consumed in Australia between 2007 and 2016, according to research published in the scientific journal Addiction.

This, the report states, argues against the common assumption that the pattern of consumption observed with alcohol in high-income countries – in which a minority of heavy drinkers account for most of the drinking – does not apply to cannabis.

The study also found that prevalence of past cannabis use in Australia increased from 8.9% in 2007 to 10.5% in 2016, and among all past year cannabis users in Australia, one in six was a daily user.

Lead author Dr Gary Chan, of the University of Queensland, said: “Our study shows that the population distribution of cannabis consumption is likely to be much like alcohol, in that daily users account for the majority of total consumption.

“This suggests that jurisdictions with legalised cannabis should discourage heavy cannabis use by taxing cannabis products, strengthening social norms that discourage heavy consumption, restricting marketing practices that target heavy users, and screening and intervening with the heaviest cannabis users in primary care medical settings.”

The study applied Monte Carlo simulation methods to four large nationally representative surveys of substance use in Australia to estimate the proportion of total cannabis consumed by daily cannabis users.  One thousand simulations were generated.

It was funded by the Department of Health, Australia.