The Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy is holding its annual conference in Perth. The top policy-making body on drugs Australia discussed yesterday about the creation of three national strategies to tackle alcohol abuse, and substance abuse, including cannabis and petrol sniffing.
The council comprises the federal, state and territory health ministers, and justice and police ministers. It has been reported that the conference would likely endorse a national strategy on the cannabis use broadly covering the prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.
Cannabis is one of the most widely used illicit drugs and concerns that it may trigger psychotic illness and schizophrenia prompted the council to develop a national cannabis strategy. There has been extensive government and community consultation in Australia on the creation of a national cannabis strategy since 2004.
Although there may have been some decline in the use of cannabis in recent years, it remains by far the most widely used illicit drug in Australia, with 750,000 Australians aged 14 years and over using the drug each week. At the same time, there have been changes in the way young people use cannabis, most particularly which part of the plant they use. Rather than the less potent cannabis leaf, the flowering head of the cannabis plant, its most potent part, is being used increasingly.
Very frequent use is also being reported among young people. Evidence suggests that heavy cannabis users are more likely to experience educational, social and employment difficulties, and long-term smoking of the drug may cause physical illnesses, as with smoking tobacco.
The state and federal ministers will also discuss a national alcohol strategy, tackling problems such as binge drinking, and a national inhalant strategy addressing issues such as petrol sniffing.