Decriminilasing marijuana would dramatically cut down the use of the more dangerous drug ‘ice’ which has seen an explosion in its use around regional NSW this year, according to Nimbin’s HEMP Embassy.
The federal government’s new drug and alcohol advisory body set up to help local communities deal with the the crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’ scourge, met for the first time last Friday.
According to the latest data, the use of ice has doubled in the past four years, especially in country areas, and with it a spike in violent crime.
But Help End Marihuana Prohibition (HEMP) Embassy president Michael Balderstone says if police ‘backed off on cannabis they’d see a marked decrease in the use of ice’.
‘Cannabis is the trick for a lot of people who want to break a habit with other drugs, like ice,’ Mr Balderstone told Echonetdaily.
‘But the simple fact is they have common ground all these illegal drugs: the black market!
‘And pot is smelly and bulky and easy to get caught with, while ice is tiny and virtually odourless, much harder for police to detect,’ Mr Balderstone
‘It would be smart if NSW police backed off on all cannabis use before ice takes over even more of the black market where it is far far easier to conceal and supply.
‘We are continually hearing young people have a lot of trouble accessing cannabis while ice is always available.
Synthetic fake cannabis is also causing serious health issues and would not exist without prohibition.
‘The premier should consider sending some of his MPs on a fact finding mission to America where they can see for themselves they have everything to gain and nothing to be afraid of,’ he said.
Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs chair Kay Hull told media ice was a big problem in country areas and the federal government was needed to help solve it.
Ms Hull, former Member for Riverina, says the council plans to meet every two months, with the next meeting in Canberra in February to include ministers with portfolios associated with ‘any aspect of alcohol and drug misuse and abuse’.
She said the council would try to work out how to tackle the drug’s complex mental health and social impacts.
Meanwhile, in Victoria, an ice taskforce unveiled by new Labor premier Daniel Andrews has been given 100 days to develop an action plan to halt the carnage caused by the drug.
A magistrate, a deputy commissioner of police and a mental health expert will be part of the taskforce chaired by Mr Andrews, along with other community representatives.
Ice was linked to 32 murders in Victoria between 2012 and 2013, and the Coroners Court found that deaths where methamphetamine was present increased from 66 in 2006 to 166 last year, according to the ABC.
The ice action taskforce, a Labor government election commitment, will examine ways to reduce the demand, supply and harm of the drug.
‘Victoria Police says we can’t simply arrest our way out of this crisis,’ Mr Andrews said, ’we need to get to the heart of the problem and listen to the experts who see the effects of this tragedy every single day’.
Mr Balderstone also welcomed the state government’s announcement this week to conduct clinical trials for medical cannabis, but said premier Mike Baird ’has had a lot of trouble convincing his fellow Liberal and National Party MPs of this move because they no doubt still believe the reefer madness propaganda they’ve been spreading for decades’.
‘I wish they would take the time to read a little about what has happened in America in the last year or two,’ Mr Balderstone said.
‘Colorado hasn’t fallen apart; in fact early statistics from the states that have introduced medical cannabis have a lot of positive results coming in, like deaths from opioid medicines are down 25 per cent, as are crime figures, suicides, car accidents, alcohol use etc, etc. Even the police are agreeing over there it’s a win win win!’
Mr Balderstone said he hoped the NSW medical cannabis trials ‘will begin to allay peoples fears about cannabis and we can once again use the plants remarkable healing properties like our ancestors did for thousands of years, and up until less than a hundred years ago’.
‘It’s tragic they are considering importing the gear when we can grow such good pot here outdoors in the Aussie sun, but at least it’s a step forward and we look forward to seeing how it unfolds.
‘Meanwhile, the two million odd regular cannabis users will go on as criminals like they have for decades now.’