Media Release: Medical use is most common motivation for cannabis growers - study

‘Medical cannabis’ for their own use is reported as a motivation for almost three quarters of Australian small-scale cannabis growers, with many also growing for the medical use of others, according to preliminary research findings released today.

Researchers at Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) are conducting the Australian arm of the second international survey on cannabis cultivation, with colleagues from RMIT and UNSW, which is running in almost 20 countries.

The first international survey ran in 2012 and informed cannabis policy considerations in several countries, including the decision in Australia to decriminalise use and small-scale cultivation in the ACT. The second online survey is still open, and NDRI researchers are appealing to Australian cannabis growers to have their say by anonymously sharing their experiences, motivations and views on policy.

The survey – available at – aims to better understand patterns of domestic cannabis growing, and how they differ across borders, to inform local and global cannabis policy. While almost 7,000 growers have already completed the survey globally, researchers say more Australian growers are needed.

Early findings, based on 440 Australian responses to the question ‘Why do you grow cannabis?’, show:

  • Three quarters (74%) said ‘to provide myself with medical cannabis’ and one quarter (25%) said for other’s medical use;
  • Half (48%) said to avoid contact with criminals;
  • 60% grow to provide themselves with cannabis for recreational use;
    About half believe the cannabis they grow is healthier than the cannabis they can buy (54%) and because ‘the cannabis I grow will never contain adulterants’ (45%);
  • Very few reported they grew ‘so I can sell it’ (6%).

NDRI Professor Simon Lenton said providing themselves with ‘medical cannabis’ was the most common reason growers in Australia gave for cultivating cannabis. By contrast, ‘medical cannabis’ ranked sixth as a motivator overall across all countries.

“Growing for personal medical use appears much more common in Australia than most other countries and the proportion of Australian growers reporting medical use as a motivator substantially increased from the first survey, from 54% in 2012 to 74% this year,” Professor Lenton said.

“This likely reflects shifts in the policy landscape over the past decade, where new legal and medical regimes have brought medicinal cannabis to the forefront of discussion around public health policy.”

Cannabis growers can complete the anonymous survey here.
More information about the study can be found here, or follow the study on Facebook and Twitter

Contact and comment:

Dr Jodie Grigg, NDRI, Curtin University, Perth
(Questions on current 2020-21 study)

Mobile: 0411 572 131

Professor Simon Lenton, NDRI, Curtin University, Perth
(Questions on previous study findings and general cannabis policy)

Mobile: 0417 957 910

Dr Monica Barratt, Social and Global Studies Centre, RMIT University, Melbourne
Mobile: 0407 778 938

Media contact

Vic Rechichi
Mobile: 0414 682 055

Posted on: 19 Apr 2021

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