Friday, May 05, 2006




The Australian National Council on Drugs (NACD) has published a booklet designed to educate the almost two million people who have consumed cannabis in the past year.

The NACD claims some 300,000 Australians use cannabis each day, with the majority of users aimed between 20 and 29 years old.

In total, more than 1 in 4 Australians have used cannabis at some point in their life. Regardless of the extraordinary consumption, and widespread general use, the Australian government still insists on maintaining a Zero Tolerance approach, preferring criminalisation instead of education aimed at lowering usage.

"It's quite clear from studies that you can become dependent on cannabis and that it can lead to mental health issues as well," said NACD executive director, Gino Vumbaca.

"A lot of people have grown up with the idea that cannabis is a soft drug, but long term studies show that those who use it long term seem more likely to suffer high anxiety and mental illness like depression."

The booklet published by the NACD aims to provide just the facts to users and the families of users, instead of taking a moral stance, as so much of the Federal Health Department's usual propaganda on the issue tends to do.

The NACD is pushing for federal and state governments to do more to widen the availability of treatment for cannabis addiction, and make it more affordable.

Gino Vumbaca said one in 10 people who seek help for drug problems cite cannabis as their main drug problem.

"Rather than criminalise people - and occasionally you hear calls [that] people be locked for cannabis use - send a tough message," he said.

"What we're saying is what we should be doing for people is actually providing them with accessible and affordable and available treatment for cannabis use."

(Source : The Melbourne Age and ABC News)

You can download a PDF of the NACD booklet by clicking here.


The annual Mardi Grass Festival kicks off in Nimbin, in Northern New South Wales, this weekend, and festival organisers are concerned about just how hard police are going to crack down on dope 'appreciators', who are usually allowed to smoke dope in public and roll joints for competitive reasons during the festival.

The festival began as a rally to push cannabis law reform in 1993, but has quickly grown to become one of the key cultural festivals in New South Wales, even if some of the elderly hippy particpants are embarrassing to high flying baby boomers back in Sydney.

The organisers told ABC Radio they are "paranoid" about how police will respond to dope-related celebrations and activity over the next three days.

"You know, we've always lived under this shadow of being criminals, there's plenty of paranoia and talk, you know, 'we're being set up, they're going to give us a hard time'," said one of the organisers.

How easy would it be to make people attending a cannabis festival paranoid?

Another organisers told the Northern Rivers Echo, “We ask all protesters to show their usual good natured tolerance of police and anyone blowing smoke in their face or not respecting the law in their presence will obviously get into trouble.”


“(Nimbin) is a peaceful and magical little corner of the world – we will make our message about the ridiculous cannabis laws, and the damage they are doing to our community, heard through laughter and song.”

This is the 14th annual MardiGrass Festival and will run through to Sunday night. There will be an official opening ceremony, a Harvest Ball, live music and the usually confused, but entertaining, Hemp Olympix (including the joint rolling comp), along with cannabis issue forums. The closer comes on Sunday afternoon with the Rally for Cannabis Law Reform.

Apparently the organisers are aiming to set a world record for the most joints lit in one location....obviously memory loss problems have removed the visage of hundreds of thousands of dope smokers at the Woodstock Festival setting a record unlikely to be ever beaten.

Some people just need a good reason to flare up, you know, like they're achieving something.

Find out more about the events of the Nimbin MardiGrass festival at the official site.

Note : The headline figure of "thousands of kilos of cannabis" consumed each week in Australia was reached by guess-timating that each of the 300,000 daily users of cannabis would consume half to one gram of cannabis in a 24 hour period, adding the casual users consumption of a few grams worth a month. 300,000 users, and hundreds of thousands more casual users could easily consume thousands of kilos worth of cannabis per week. Which puts into perspective the police busts of ten kilos here, a hundred kilos there.

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