cross posted at mLaw


Could pot smoking curb binge drinking?

The head of the governmental office in Australia that is charged with researching the dangerous legal drug alcohol, Australia’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, recently called for legalizing cannabis in Australia as a mechanism to countervail the national scourge of binge drinking.

The agency’s director, Professor Robin Room, told the Australian national newspaper The Herald Sun that legalized cannabis would certainly curtail incidents where teens are injured as a consequence of binge drinking. In addition, Room said that legalizing cannabis for personal consumption would ensure that otherwise normal well-adjusted teens are not permanently stigmatized throughout their adult lives by a drug arrest that would negatively affect education and employment opportunities.

Room suggested that cannabis be sold legally in Australia for personal consumption, in a market that is controlled by the government, where sales can be effectively tracked, where the legal product is not sold in supermarkets and where advertising the product would not be allowed.

Room told the Herald Sun that, while “Cannabis is not without harm,” its dangers are “substantially less than alcohol and tobacco in terms of social harm.”

Because of alcohol’s association with loss of physical coordination and senseless aggression and violence, Room said that Australian teens would be “better off” tempering their intake of alcohol with cannabis. “If you are adding the cannabis to an equal amount of alcohol, then in some ways you’d be probably less likely to be aggressive but it’s a bad idea to add it on if you want to drive a car,” professor Room told the Herald Sun.

Director Room also recommended creating a government controlled monopoly for the sale of alcohol, limiting the number of liquor stores in areas and devising tax policies that would increase the cost of liquor in the effort to limit purchases by Australian teens. Australia is in the midst of an epidemic of social problems caused by binge drinking that range from increased incidents of violence to an up-surge in alcohol related hospital admissions.

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