“Professor Robin Room is right to be concerned about the harms of binge drinking (Herald Sun, 10/7/13), but legalising another poison is not the solution,” FamilyVoice research officer Ros Phillips said today. “Has he chosen to ignore the serious mental health and other risks linked to cannabis use?”
A new study by scientists from Melbourne and Wollongong universities last year showed significant brain damage in long-term cannabis users – especially those who started using in their teens, the age when binge drinking also begins. More recently, UK statistics show that hospital admissions for mental disorders linked to cannabis use have risen by half in four years. A British Medical Journal study has shown a clear link between regular teen cannabis use and increased rates of depression and anxiety.
“The combination of alcohol and marijuana is particularly harmful, since alcohol magnifies the negative effects of marijuana,” Ros Phillps said. “Binge-drinking and pot-smoking teens are more likely to experience psychotic symptoms, with the mindless violence that often accompanies such episodes.
“Legalising a new poison does not reduce the harms of an old one. Prof Room’s proposal would put Australia’s young people at greater risk. Hospitals already coping with alcohol-related admissions would then have to cope with more cannabis-related ones!”
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