Dr. Alex Wodak, the director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, has called for legalising cannabis to regulate similarly to what happens in the alcohol and tobacco industries.
Addressing a function at the Australian Drug Law and a Civil Society symposium in Sydney, Dr. Wodak said: "In a few years time, we'll have more Australians smoking cannabis than we have smoking tobacco and by default that market is largely taken over by criminals."
Advertisement"Having a black market of that size is not good for anybody and inevitably big black markets can only survive if there's significant police corruption," he added.
Dr. Wodak, who also heads the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, said: "At the moment, we have no control over cannabis at all because the trade is run by criminals," he said from Lismore."
"By taxing and regulating it, we would start to have some influence over the way people use cannabis. Overall, the aim should be to try and reduce the harm. We could have warning labels on packets, we could have age restrictions - we could also have help-seeking information if you're trying to cut down or stop," he added.
He further highlighted that cannabis prohibition was expensive and ineffective, with surveys showing up to 2.5 million Australians will smoke cannabis in 2010.
"It's easier for most Australians to purchase cannabis than to buy a pizza - it's a readily available substance," Dr. Wodak said.