Cannabis and hemp have come a long way in the past few years as the smoke begins to clear from the myths and stigmas about the plant. With the recent legalisation of medical cannabis and hemp in Australia, the industry has begun to boom, and experts predict it to be worth a whopping $5 billion per year eventually.
For the first time, Australia is getting an Industry Awards for Cannabis to honour Australian cannabis and hemp pioneers and professionals deserving recognition for industry innovation and social progression. As Australia finally takes marijuana mainstream, and as punishment gives way to praise, these awards give long-overdue recognition to contributions made by individuals and organisations in the cannabis industry.
In the same way that the wine and beer industries have a vast and thriving culture (from home brewers and boutique wineries, to Oktoberfest and whisky bars) it’s high-time cannabis comes out of the shadows of prohibition to become a celebrated billion dollar industry – as it should have always been. Experts have been saying for years that cannabis is much less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes (which are easily available and cheap) but cannabis is criminalised.
Taking a lead from places such as the USA and Canada (where craft cannabis and medical marijuana have been booming for years) more than 84 percent of Australians now support medical cannabis and 73 percent don’t think possessing cannabis should be a crime.2 We know that Australians love cannabis, both for recreation and wellness, and just like the alcohol prohibition of the 1920’s, cannabis is being welcomed back into the public sphere.
The Cannabis Industry Awards come at the perfect time to prove the legitimacy of the industry and highlight the companies leading the way for innovation and social progression. Interestingly, the Cannabis Industry Awards have a novel approach to the awards: They are also celebrating the long-time activists and carers who have done most of the leg-work over the years for legalisation.
“We were worried that the decades of hard work and persecution on activists was going to be lost to big business” says the founder of the Awards and cannabis Entrepreneur, Benjamin Jesse.
“This is a historical time in our industry to turn the shame of prohibition on its head and be proud of those who have been key parts of this revolution.”
Split into Community and Business halves, the awards recognise the contribution made both by companies and activists in pushing the industry forward. This naturally growing medicine has been surrounded by superstition and scandal for decades, but is now finally starting to be celebrated around the world.
“There are a total of 42 award categories each year which are open to everyone,” says Benjamin. “The Awards recognise the medical, recreational, and ancillary sectors and endeavour to represent our wonderfully complex and vibrant industry to the rest of Australia – and indeed to the world!”
When compared to alcohol, which caused a total of 5,797 deaths in Australia in 2018, cannabis caused exactly zero deaths. That’s none, nada, and it never has. Not to mention the 150,000 hospitalisations attributed to alcohol every year! It’s easy to see why the alcohol industry is declining, and cannabis is booming. Cannabis is the most widely used drug in the country, with 12 percent of Australians reporting having used it in the past year.
At the moment, the black market is worth at least $4.5 billion a year — all of which goes into the pockets of criminals and organised gangs, the Oceania Cannabis Report found.
“It has been predicted that the cannabis industry will eventually be twice the size of the beer industry in Australia,” says Benjamin. “And we think that is worth celebrating!”
Winners will be announced on the 1st of August.