Pubdate: Fri, 27 Aug 1999
Date: 08/27/1999
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Author: Peter Watney

PETER CLACK appears to agree with Dave Rugendyke's preference for
harsher penalties for cannabis use and possession and for an
abandonment of the on-the-spot fines (CT, August 21, p.C2).

Perhaps they should both read Department of Health and Aged Care
Monograph Series No. 36 of May 1998, ' Infringement versus conviction'
, which reports worse social outcomes for Western Australia with its
harsher penalties than for South Australia with its infringement notices.

As for Peter Clack's statement that 9.1 per cent are dependent on
cannabis, it is ludicrous, irresponsible and unsourced. 9.1 per cent
of Australia's population is some 1.7 million people. It may be
possible that 1.7 million Australians have tried the weed, but
dependency, by whatever definition, would have produced more than the
half-a-per-cent-odd emergency-room statistics recorded.

He also repeats the myth that cannabis is a pathway to heroin. There
is absolutely no evidence that this is the case, and there is
considerable evidence that it is not. There is reason to believe that
any correlation between cannabis and heroin results from common
dealers and thus from the prohibition that is intended to control abuse.

The Dutch have successfully broken the nexus between heroin and
cannabis use, and as a result have less abuse of either drug.