NDRI Seminar: The social costs of cannabis use to Australia

Presented by Prof Steve Allsop, Dr Robert Tait and Mr Aqif Mukhtar, NDRI

Thursday 27 August 2020, 1pm - 2pm
Technology Park Function Centre - Seminar Room 3, Brodie Hall Drive, Bentley, WA (map)

***RSVP is essential – numbers capped to comply with restrictions***

Background: This presentation reports on the recent social cost study that aimed to quantify the overall social costs associated with cannabis use in Australia. It will also explore the challenges in conducting drug related social cost analyses.

Findings: We estimated that the total social cost of cannabis use was AU$4.5 billion in 2015/16. The largest cost area was criminal justice (e.g. police, courts, prisons and victims of crime) at AU$2.4 billion. The other major cost areas were health care costs (AU$714 million) and workplace costs (AU$560 million). Some costs were separated from the overall estimate due to their exploratory nature (harms to partners and resident children) or the controversy of including them (costs incurred by the drug-using individual.)

Conclusions: Cannabis-related problems impinge across society with impacts including on criminal justice costs, health, workplace productivity and accidents. In addition to the individual person using cannabis, those affected include partners, children and other family members, police and health services as well as the broader community. It is important to acknowledge the limitations inherent in social cost studies, in particular the difficulty of estimating costs from administrative data. Social cost studies involving drug use also need to contend with the extent of poly-drug use and the potential for drug substitution if the availability of a particular drug is changed. Nevertheless, the approach can identify high cost areas, allowing policy makers and researchers to develop and evaluate ways to reduce these costs.

RSVP to ndri@curtin.edu.au

Posted on: 7 Aug 2020

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