The debate surrounding the legalisation of cannabis has always been one prone to fiery debate and controversy and given the nature of drugs to divide social opinion, the path to decriminalise cannabis here in Australia has been rife with obstacles. While American states have led the way in making cannabis-related products available to the public and change the deeply entrenched stigmas surrounding the drug, Australia has been much slower to adopt such changes. But while the ACT has since decriminalised cannabis, the quest to do so in Victoria has now seen an interesting (yet bizarre) argument come forward from Drug Free Australia.
In order to decriminalise cannabis, the state of Victoria has formed a committee to look into the use of the drug throughout the state. Part of their duties include accepting written submissions from the public and other submissions made during public hearings, along with conducting their own research. At a recent hearing, a submission put forward by research director of Drug Free Australia, Gary Christian, proved particularly problematic and controversial, playing into the fear-mongering that has surrounded the debate around cannabis as he suggested it turns violence into homicide.
Some of the astonishing claims made by Drug Free Australia include that cannabis can result in violence and aggression, ‘particularly inter-personal and domestic violence.’ Christian claimed, “A lot of the violence and aggression actually turns into homicide. This is a world-wide known phenomenon about cannabis. They kill the people that are closest to them.”
Christian claimed that weed users are also 16 times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident and boldly asserted that cannabis can cause autism, claims that also were not supported with any evidence to suggest as much.
It’s important to note that the claims made by Christian are not substantiated nor supported with relevant sources or research. He did not even draw on a study to back the claims. As many have been quick to note, though there has been no correlation to cannabis and violence, alcohol has been found to have a clear link with domestic violence and death, with numerous studies citing as much.
The World Health Organisation explained, “Alcohol consumption, especially at harmful and hazardous levels is a major contributor to the occurrence of intimate partner violence and links between the two are manifold.”
For more details on the submission and the issues surrounding Christian’s claims, watch the breakdown here.
Drug Free Australia has since contacted Men’s Health for comment. In an email, International Director Herschel Baker and Executive Director, Josephine Baxter, wrote: “It has become apparent to Drug Free Australia the urgent need to bring to your attention this very important research,” citing a study conducted by two Australian medical professionals, Dr Albert Stuart Reece and Professor Gary Kenneth Hulse.
The email continued, “Their research, clearly shows the connection of marijuana to Mental illness, Autism, Congenital anomalies x 62 and Pediatric cancer including testicular cancer. There is also research connecting Cannabis use with Coronavirus infection.” The study can be found here.