Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Drug Expert : Sell Cannabis At Australia Post Offices

Predicts Spliffs Will Replace Cigarettes

Hundreds of thousands of Australians will light up joints, or punch cones, this or next weekend. All of them will be breaking the law. A country originally settled for the purposes of growing industrial cannabis (hemp) two centuries ago, continues to criminalise adults who think that cannabis is a better way to unwind on Friday night than binge-drinking, and that it provides better mild pain relief than gut-burning pharmaceuticals.

But Alex Wodak, the director of alcohol and drug services at St Vincent's Hospital posits that 'cannabis use will replace cigarette consumption' in the next ten years, and it's time now for the government to get in first and make sure that criminal profiteering and police, corporate and political corruption doesn't run rampant in this new marketplace :

Cannabis would be sold legally in post offices in packets that warn against its effects under a proposal outlined by the head of a Sydney drug and alcohol clinic.

...Wodak said Australia needed to learn from the tobacco industry and the US Prohibition era in coming to terms with his belief that cannabis use would replace cigarette consumption over the next decade.

"The general principal is that it's not sustainable that we continue to give criminals and corrupt police a monopoly to sell a drug that is soon going to be consumed by more people than tobacco," he said.

"I don't want to see that [industry] fall into the hands of tobacco companies or rapacious businessmen."

Dr Wodak believed his idea could reduce cannabis consumption, based on comparisons between consumption in Amsterdam and San Francisco. He said regulated availability would also reduce people's exposure to other illicit drugs when buying the product. His model would make cannabis advertising illegal, ban political donations from the cannabis industry, and demand proof of age on purchase.

He chose Australia Post for distribution as it could be regulated and had branches across the country. "What I'm talking about is not pro-cannabis … it's about reducing cannabis harm."

A spokesman for the Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, said the proposal would not be considered.
Instead the federal government will back criminal records and jail sentences for Australians repeatedly caught smoking, eating or growing a weed.