Cannabis & Employment

This section provides information about cannabis use and employment. Differences in use patterns between employed and unemployed Australians, as well as those not in the labour force, are also examined.

The primary source of data used in this section is the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2014). The NDSHS is a triennial general population survey of Australians' awareness, attitudes and behaviours relating to alcohol and other drug use. It is the best data source available to provide a national population employment profile of Australians’ cannabis use.

Although the NDSHS does collect data regarding cannabis use from 12 and 13 year olds, only data from respondents aged 14 years and over is presented in the NDSHS report. Secondary analyses of the NDSHS conducted by NCETA were therefore also restricted to those aged 14 years or older.

What negative consequences does cannabis use have for Australian workplaces?

Cannabis use can impair:

  • short-term memory
  • cognition
  • balance and coordination
  • concentration
  • sensory perception
  • ability to perform complex tasks
  • alertness and reaction time.  

These effects can last between two and six hours and can negatively affect workplace safety, performance and productivity. Employees who use cannabis can present a potential danger at work, especially if the user is operating machinery or driving a vehicle.

Is the employment status of Australians related to cannabis use in the past 12 months?

Australians who are unemployed are the most likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months. Those not in the labour force are the least likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Employed: Self-employed or working for salary or wages.

Employment Status: Whether an individual is currently: a) employed; b) unemployed; or c) not in the labour force.

Not in the Labour Force: Engaged in home duties, volunteer/charity work, student, retiree/pensioner, other.

Unemployed: Not currently working and actively seeking employment.

In which industries are Australian employees more likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months?

The proportion of employed Australians who used cannabis in the past 12 months varies according to their industry of employment. Australians employed in hospitality are more likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months compared to those employed in other industries.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Employed: Self-employed or working for salary or wages.

Are employed men or women in Australia more likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months?

Employed Australian men are more likely than employed women to have used cannabis in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Employed: Self-employed or working for salary or wages.

Are younger or older Australian employees more likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months?

Younger employed Australians are more likely than older employees to have used cannabis in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Employed: Self-employed or working for salary or wages.

Are unemployed men or women in Australia more likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months?

Unemployed Australian men are more likely than unemployed women to have used cannabis in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Unemployed: Not currently working and actively seeking employment.

Are younger or older unemployed Australians more likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months?

Unemployed Australians aged 18-24 years are more likely than unemployed Australians in other age groups to have used cannabis in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Unemployed: Not currently working and actively seeking employment.

Among those not in the labour force, are men or women in Australia more likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months?

Among Australians not in the labour force, men are more likely than women to have used cannabis in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Not in the Labour Force: Engaged in home duties, volunteer/charity work, student, retiree/pensioner, other.

Among those not in the labour force, are younger or older Australians more likely to have used cannabis in the past 12 months?

Among Australians not in the labour force, 18-29 year olds are more likely than other age groups to have used cannabis in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Not in the Labour Force: Engaged in home duties, volunteer/charity work, student, retiree/pensioner, other.