|Greg Barns, president of Australian Lawyers Alliance said that cannabis use is primarily a health issue, and the state would save money by treating is as such|
One of the reasons cannabis use is so high in Tasmania is because it is illegal and not treated by authorities as a health issue, according to the Australian Lawyers Alliance.
Greg Barns, Alliance president and barrister based in Hobart, said decriminalizing the use, possession and sale of small amounts of marijuana would reduce its appeal to young people, reports Sally Glaetzer at The Mercury.
“Most kids want to try dope,” Barns said. “If it wasn’t illegal, it would be less attractive.”
Cannabis use should be treated as a health issue, Barns said, with “offenders” referred to a health or counseling service rather than the criminal justice system.
While that’s far from ideal — ideal being “it’s none of your damned business if I use cannabis” — it’s certainly an improvement over locking people in cages for weed.
According to Barns, instead of spending enormous amounts of police and court resources on cannabis-related offenses, money should be redirected to a service to provide lifestyle and health advice for cannabis users.
Barns said that cannabis use is primarily a health issue and the state would save money by treating it as such. He added that making the medical use of cannabis legal and allowing doctors to supply high-quality marijuana to patients for pain relief would “dim the supply of bad quality cannabis.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Association recently announced that cannabis is a “bigger long-term problem” than alcohol abuse among Tasmanian teenagers, reports Hannah Martin at The Mercury. AMA Tasmania spokesman Dr. Hamley Perry said teenagers are smoking pot to “self medicate” and cope with social pressures.
Tasmanian teens are smoking marijuana weekly or daily to suppress depression and anxiety, according to government figures.
According to the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, almost one in 10 Tasmanian youngsters between 12 and 17 recently took “illegal drugs,” with cannabis being the most popular. More than 150 students have been suspended from Tasmanian schools in the past three years for incidents involving “illegal drugs.”
Of Tasmanian teens who admitted using cannabis, 10 percent said they do so once a week or more.
Dr. Perry, of Moonah’s Hopkins St Medical Clinic, is evidently a devotee of the Reefer Madness school of thought. He claimed that the consequences of cannabis use are greater than those caused by the misuse of alcohol, and that a growing number of teens are self-medicating with marijuana.
Here’s Why Dr. Perry Is WRONG About Cannabis Being More Dangerous Than Alcohol
Dr. Perry’s claims are pretty interesting, especially in view of the fact that 1,194 family violence offenders and 552 victims reported being affected by alcohol in the latest Tasmanian government figures available [PDF]. Alcohol is reportedly a factor in 25 percent of fatal crashes and 90 percent of public assaults. And the good Dr. Perry tells us cannabis is worse than that!
Particularly sad and ironic is that, if Tasmanian teens take Dr. Perry’s advice and use alcohol rather than cannabis, they could become part of this grim statistic: Tasmania’s rate for deaths caused by alcohol consumption for young people from 15 to 24 years old is “the third highest of all jurisdictions,” according to the government, at 1.2 per 10,000 population.
From 1992 to 2002, an estimated six per 100,000 Tasmanians from 14 to 17 years old died as a result of injury or disease caused by alcohol consumption. Tasmania has the highest proportion of young people who drink alcohol at “risky” or “high risk” levels — 19.8 percent — which is well above the Australian average of 15.3 percent.