At least 200,000 Australian adults are believed to be dependent on cannabis, with around one in ten people who ever try the drug becoming dependent on it at some time in their lives.
The figures were released at the launch of the Australia's first National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC), funded by the federal government.
The Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, opened the Centre this week. The Centre is based at UNSW.
Cannabis continues to be the most popular illicit drug in Australia and around the world, with new figures showing that just over one third (33.5 per cent) of adult Australians have tried it.
NCPIC is the first centre in the world that combines research excellence on cannabis issues and treatment development with the capacity to translate that evidence into workforce training and community information provision.
As the number of Australians who have problematic cannabis use has increased, so has the number of people seeking treatment, particularly young people. Treatment rates for people seeking help with cannabis problems have more than tripled since 1992.
Fifty per cent of presentations to drug treatment among 10 to 19 year olds are related to cannabis, compared to 25 per cent for alcohol and 10 per cent for amphetamines.
"The Centre is unique in that it has been created to bridge the gap between research and practice," said Professor Jan Copeland, the Director of NCPIC.
"This approach will deliver direct benefit to the community in improving knowledge on cannabis-related information and providing high quality services," she said.
Services will include a free national information and helpline and web-based information and assistance.
"Evidence about cannabis-related health problems is unfolding like those of tobacco smoking did in the 1970s and beyond," said Professor Copeland. "Scientists are now turning their attention to this previously neglected drug."
The Australian Government is providing more than $12 million over three years for the Centre and its activities.