As an overseas university student from China, I know very little about drugs. In China,the punishment is harsh, even using marijuana you will be arrested and detained. Also, we think drugs are distant from our lives. After I came to Australia, I found drugs are were popular in Australia. Especially marijuana. Zeng Chen reports
At the first party I’ve attended when I arrived in Australia I saw people smoke marijuana, they made pot and tobacco together like a normal cigarette. I was shocked by that scene. They passed marijuana from one to another after they smoked a puff. It seemed they enjoyed it and had a good time. After that time I realized drugs were not so distant from me after all.
A report from China News Service implies that Australia has become one of the world’s largest consumer of drugs. In other words,in Australian, a large number of people do marijuana. A statistics from an Australian Media shows there are more than 10% blue-and-white collar workers are addicted in marijuana.
The World drug report in 2014 indicates that in Australia the amount of users of cannabis are increasing annually. Moreover, among them, the amount of women are more than men.
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug with one in three Australians (34%) reporting use in their lifetime. Recent use of cannabis is most common among those aged 20–29 year
It seems unusual that although everyone says marijuana is illegal in Australia, it seems that everyone has used marijuana. I think this is a weird phenomenon and it is hard to understand people’s attitude toward marijuana. And that is what I want to figure out.
Background information of marijuana:
Marijuana’s scientific name is Cannabis sativa L. The earliest evidence of marijuana show it was used by human back in the neolithic age. It has also been used in some medical use. However, when marijuana was mentioned, people always think of illegal drugs.
I researched the side effects of marijuana and found it can damaged people’s health. It accelerate’s the speed of blood circulation. Typically your eyes become red as they congested and blood vessels expand. It will cause orthostatic hypotension and bronchitis. The inhalation has certain effects that cause cancer. Smoking too much may cause unconsciousness, anxiety depression and hostility. A person could become insane, paranoid, delusional. Excessive use will injure muscle movement and coordination. When one take it for a long time, a person could fall into a depression which causes mental problems. (Source: BaiduBaike Dama)
Moreover, cannabis is bad for pregnant women and unborn babies and cause all kinds of mental illness and cancer.
The first person I interviewed is a 30 years old male, an Australian citizen. He has used marijuana for 10 years until now. He says: “I admit marijuana may cause some problems and it is not a good thing, and I will give it up, but not now.”
He used to drive trucks, sometimes long journeys . When he was tired of driving he used marijuana to make himself comfortable. I asked him,”Don’t you think it is dangerous and crazy?” He answered “No,not at all,it is simply because I had did marijuana for many years, I can control it, it just allaying my tiredness and refreshing me.” He also indicates that although marijuana is not legal in Australia, “if you don’t smoke marijuana in front of the police, they will not arrest you. And also, the police will not search any one for marijuana.”
He says, “I am not making trouble, I just do my own thing, I will not hurt anybody due to marijuana, so police would not trouble for me. However, to be honest, I will not try any drugs except marijuana.”
He even showed me his tools for marijuana, it is just like a shisha. Water should be put in to the shisha to filter the smoke. He said “this tool is popular in Australia, if you buy marijuana from a drug dealer, he’ll sell you this with a big discount, this is pretty cheap.”
The second person I interviewed is a 29 years old musician. He has smoked marijuana for around 7 years. He indicated that he believes all the rock musicians would do marijuana, some of them do it for fun, but more of them do it for stimulating the inspiration
He said, “Sometimes, I find it creative and inspired after I did marijuana, I feel that’s easy for me to write some nice musics. I know marijuana will give me some negative feelings but, overall, it is good for my life. You know marijuana just causes mental addiction instead of physical, I don’t worry about not being able to quit smoking.”
He also said:” If you regard marijuana as a kind of drug, so alcohol is a drug,too. But I would rather not think them as drugs. Ice and heroin, for me, are drugs. And I will never try that. But marijuana is different for me, after I did it, I feel I was always in a peace mood, I become sensitive with colors, sound and surroundings. I feel my brain is powerful and qualified to a lot of works which I can not do before. I can recall many familiar melodies which I had forgot. Before the feeling of marijuana passed, I will still feel myself perfect.”
His attitude on marijuana is not negative. When I ask him why marijuana is so popular in Australia that it seems it is legal, he said:”If you are not causing problems, police would not arrest you due to marijuana. But you should remember police do not like drug dealers. They will arrest drug dealers. Police will not pull me over to search my car for marijuana. I think marijuana is better than alcohol, because marijuana makes me feel calm and peace, but alcohol will make people feel angry or make people irascible. So alcohol is more dangerous for public instead of marijuana.”
The third person I interviewed is a drug dealer. I know him from my friend who buys marijuana from him.
He indicated all the marijuana he has are not from overseas but was grown in Australia. He does not have a particular store to sell marijuana because it is definitely illegal. His trusted friends know he sell marijuana, they will buy marijuana from him and introduce some buyers to him.
This kind of trading is relatively safe comparing with the other kinds of drug trading. Buyers and sellers are relatively fixed and certain. That keeps the entire process is safe in case of emergency. If I buy marijuana from him, I don’t need to where the marijuana come from, I don’t need to know how he can get it. I just need to think about the price. Likewise, he will not tell me where he get the marijuana and the detail information. Because this trading is just happened between friends, and each of them is trusted, and the trading can be controlled.
I also interviewed three police officers. Two of them were on duty and one of them had retired. The two officers said:” We do arrest anyone who does drugs. But sorry,we are not allowed to answer your questions.” But the retired policeman implied that if one only smokes marijuana the police will not really arrest them, he said, “if we did, we have a lot of works to do.”
Indeed, he had tried marijuana as well. He showed me a statistics from internet: It is estimated that around one-third (33.5%) of Australians over the age of 14 years report using cannabis at some time in their lifetime.
After a noted rise in cannabis use in 1998 among those sampled by the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS), when 17.9 percent of respondents reported use in the past 12 months, there was a consistent decline in reported use to 12.9 percent in 2001, 11.3 percent in 2004 and 9.1 percent in 2007. Males (37%) are more likely to report having used cannabis than females (30%).
The last person I interviewed is a overseas student from China called Jason. Before he came to Australia he never tried cannabis. But after he came here he had used it for many times and he likes it very much.
“After I go back to China, I will never do it. My family and friends will not allow me to do this, but I am here, I can usually do it,” he said.
Now I think I am beginning to understand why marijuana is so popular in Australia. All in all, to some aspects,marijuana is not totally harmful for people. People will regard marijuana as a entertainment. People are rational enough to consider it and predict what is going to happen after they do marijuana.
It is hard for us to figure out the official attitude on marijuana. As we know, in the United States, several states has permitted to legally trade marijuana.
Because they know it is extremely hard to preclude marijuana trading and to stop people doing it. So they choice to make it legally and levy a heavy duty on that. However, in Australia it is still unlawful. It seems that many Australian also advocate cannabis to be legal in Australia as well.