POTTY PHILOSOPHY BROUGHT TO BOOK
IN THE laid back era of the mid-to late-20th century, when "thinkers" such as Dr Timothy Leary - hailed as the "Galileo of the Mind" by his woolly-headed tribe of followers - preached seductively of the need to "tune in, turn on and drop out", marijuana was hailed by its smoky devotees as the counter-culture herb of hope, as if somehow a shared joint could be used to blow open the doors to enlightenment.
In the 1970s, it seemed marijuana was everywhere. Its acrid scent wafted on the breeze at every party and laws to ban its sale and consumption were regarded as the epitome of authoritarian uncool. It was the Age of Aquarius, of hippies and trippies and everybody had their stash. Why not? Marijuana was fun, it was harmless. In the Cheech and Chong pot philosophy, everybody had to get stoned.
But that casual acceptance of marijuana as some sort of benign social indulgence was misguided. It is now known that marijuana smoke is at least as harmful to the lungs as that of tobacco, and that the psycho-active ingredient - Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC - can contribute to the development of psychosis and even schizophrenia.
Yet despite the accumulation of powerful evidence that marijuana is harmful to the health, thousands of Australians are regular users. So a watertight prohibition against its use is unlikely to be enforceable.
But Premier Morris Iemma's suggestion for a tightening of the present lax laws which allow users to be given only a slap over wrist the first time they are caught using the drug has merit. Mr Iemma is suggesting mandatory drug counselling sessions for anyone charged with minor marijuana possession or use.
The idea of directing vast police resources on what would be a futile campaign to rid the nation of marijuana would obviously be against the community's broader better interests.
But the duty of care we owe all citizens implies an obligation to inform people - and impressionable youngsters in particular - of the known dangers of marijuana.
The plan deserves our support.
Fri, 03 Feb 2006
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Copyright: 2006 News Limited