The History of Marijuana in Australia

Australia has a history with marijuana that dates back to the 1770s, when the country was first colonized to grow cannabis. Some historians believe New South Wales, the first European settlement in Australia, was founded in order to grow massive amounts of hemp, mainly because of Sir Joseph Banks, a botanist who envisioned Australia as one big marijuana farm. Banks had a whole file of hemp that he kept for years as the main advisor on hemp in Australia and the other colonies, because he believed hemp was a vital resource that helped Britain grow and maintain a second empire. This demand for cannabis in Australia began to diminish by the 1920s, when fears of the psychedelic effects of the drug began to spread worldwide.

During the 1925 Geneva Convention, delegates added cannabis to the agenda in addition to opium and coca, “The meeting agreed to ban the recreational use of these three plant based drugs while not interfering with their medical and scientific use… After the meeting, the Commonwealth [of Australia] wrote to the states requesting them to prohibit recreational use of cannabis. The various states enacted legislation banning cannabis over the following years.” At the time that this went into effect, most of Australia’s population had never heard of cannabis, so Australia was simply just bowing to international pressure from the United States and League of Nations, but once a drug was prohibited, its use “skyrocketed”. This led to a widespread use of cannabis among young adults in the 1960s, because once a drug was prohibited, its use “skyrocketed”. Now, cannabis is one of the most commonly used illicit drugs in Australia.


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