The Director of the alcohol and drug service at St Vincent's Hospital Dr Alex Wodak proposes selling cannabis in post offices to cut consumption. He made the proposal for taxed and legalised cannabis at the Mardi Grass festival in Nimbin on Sunday (!), but said he would be happy to express his opinion to the Federal Government.
I wonder what Australia has done to deserve such people. I also wonder why those doctors so concerned with the health problems of managing illicit drug use seek to employ measures that will definitely increase its use.
Cannabis use in Australia is falling as the recent National Drug Survey shows – among youth use has fallen by about 20% from 2004-2007.
This call is appallingly irresponsible. It would substantially reduce the user costs of consuming cannabis and given that the demand for cannabis certainly depends on price would encourage its use substantially Dr Wodak believes that such a move would substantially reduce consumption. How? If prices (inclusive of other costs) were less than illegal market prices then quantities demanded would be greater. If legal prices exceeded prices in illegal markets then there would be two sources of supply - illegal cheap cannabis and more expensive legal cannabis. How will this help reduce demand?
As I have written before, Wodak’s uncritical support for harm-minimisation at the expense of the most basic appreciation of the laws of supply and demand makes no sense.
Are not physicians supposed to ‘do no harm’. How is reducing the cost of a dangerous drug by decriminalising it going to help? Why pretend that current policies seeking to limit the use of cannabis are failing when they manifestly are succeeding.
Update: An updated version of this post is cross-posted at the ABC website.
Update: Here is Miranda Devine's view. Very similar to mine.