Addicts need medical aid - legalise cannabis

Geoff Soma
Geoff Soma

LEGALISING cannabis may help to address a number of issues, according to Western Region Drug and Alcohol (WRAD) centre director Geoff Soma.

“The war on drugs hasn’t been that successful,” Mr Soma said.

“Reviewing the laws, which could include legalising small amounts of cannabis, is still worth doing.”

Mr Soma said the criminal justice system could do “more harm than good” to people battling an addiction.

“I think there has been a lot of really good work done recognising illegal drugs as a health problem,” he said.

“My opinion is based on trialling a number of different interventions to see whether it makes a difference.”

Mr Soma’s comments come after Greens leader Richard Di Natale called for full cannabis legalisation in Australia.

“Governments around the world are realising the prohibition of cannabis causes more harm than it prevents,” Mr Di Natale said.

Warrnambool’s Carmen Azzopardi, who suffers degenerative bone disease spinal stenosis, fully supports the legalisation of cannabis.

She is trying to give up the drug due to legal problems relating to her cannabis use, but said it was difficult because she suffered chronic pain.

“Most of the time I’m in pain and it just relaxes the muscles,” Ms Azzopardi said.

She said she had come to rely on cannabis for pain relief because she refused to take opiates.

“I would support legalising it 100 per cent,” Ms Azzopardi said.

However, Health Minister Greg Hunt has called on the Greens to withdraw the suggestion to legalise cannabis, arguing it risks the health of Australians.

“Marijuana is a gateway drug,” Mr Hunt said. 

“The risk of graduating to ice or to heroin from extended marijuana use is real and documented.

“We do not believe it is safe, responsible or something which should be allowed.”