Monday, May 5, 2008

Sell Cannabis at the Post Office!

Interesting news has come from the Nimbin MardiGrass. Dr. Alex Wodak, Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney Australia, has delivered a presentation advocating the full legalization of cannabis and using Australia Post as the delivery point to consumers.

The Northern Rivers Echo has good coverage here.

Dr Wodak has been the director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney since 1982. He is the president of both the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and the International Harm Reduction Association and has published more than 200 scientific papers.

Doctor Wodak's model makes good sense from whatever side you look at it.

Dr Alex Wodak believes the reason cannabis is a big issue in Australia is because it is in such high demand, with more than two million people consuming it.

“In 1997, $5 billion was spent by people buying cannabis, twice as much spent by wine consumers, and because it’s illicit, it’s not taxed,” Dr Wodak said.

“If we can tax and regulate cannabis, then we could have health warnings like we do on tobacco, like ‘smoking might cause schizophrenia’; advertise help lines, so if people want to stop or cut down they can ring this number; restrict the age of sale, like alcohol, and not sell to pregnant women. We could use some of the income from taxes to pay for better prevention and treatment programs.”

He goes on to say:

Dr Wodak said that if cannabis was legalised, it could ensure people were aware how much tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, they were consuming.

“At the moment there is no control over THC concentration and it’s a drug regulated by criminals and corrupt police,” he said.
“Inevitably where there is contact between black-market criminals and police there is rampant police corruption. If we want to get tough on police corruption and the cause of it, then logically the thing to do is to tax and regulate cannabis to take the black market away from corrupt police.”

Dr Wodak said there was still more research needed on the links between mental illness and marijuana use.
“A lot of people with mental health problems smoke a lot, but it’s a chicken and egg question,” he said. “There is no doubt some people with schizophrenia start to smoke more to try and control the symptoms.

“There will be continued debate in the psychiatric fields about what can precipitate severe mental illness.
“There is more support for the notion that cannabis use can exacerbate a pre-existing mental health condition. In public policy the onus of proof should be on maximum public safety.”

Check out the Nimbin Hemp Festival 'Mardi Grass' here.
Update: The Sydney Morning Herald has reported as well.