Cannabis debate lights up after US states change laws

LIKE all natural substances, marijuana has a position in the ecosystem, and like all intoxicants, the difference between use and abuse is delicate.

With recent reforms in the American states of Colorado and Washington State allowing recreational use of the drug, arguments for legalisation in Australia have been reignited.

A class one illegal drug in Australia, marijuana in its natural form is stigmatised as an anti-social, destructive and harmful drug.

In 2013, a parliamentary inquiry was held in NSW, scrutinising medical benefits.

Appetite stimulation, relief from nausea and alleviating moderate to severe pain are documented benefits of what is essentially one of nature's most controversial plants.

A local advocate for the legalisation of medicinal marijuana, Chris Keagan, is adamant patients deserve the right to decide the best therapy for their own bodies.

"Why are we turning patients into criminals here?" he asked.

"It is a very important right for people to have a choice, a choice in how they treat their body, especially when they are the sufferers of chronic disease and pain. Sanity needs to prevail."

A representative for state Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said state legislation was valid in imposing Australia's strictest drug laws.

"The harmful effects of cannabis are well documented and it's listed as a dangerous drug for good reason," the spokesperson said.

"We put these laws in place to send a strong message to people in the drug trade that they, and their deadly wares, are not welcome in Queensland."

The Queensland Police Service, which previously rejected applicants who admitted to marijuana use, has reconsidered its guidelines based on four criteria.

An applicant may still be considered, depending on classification of the drug, age at time of use, extent of use and how recent it was.

John Forsyth, of the Cannabis Association, says mixed messages are being conveyed.

"The government continues to perpetuate lies," he said. "No-one, spanning across the globe and over history, has ever died or overdosed from using cannabis.

"The most dangerous thing about cannabis is the legislation encompassing it."

Should marijuana be made legal?

This poll ended on 11 February 2014.

Current Results

Yes - it's just a natural plant

73%

People should be allowed to use it for medical reasons

19%

No. It is harmful to the health

4%

Marijuana is a dangerous drug

2%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



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