Could Legalizing Weed Curb Alcohol-Related Violence

Legalizing marijuana could help reduce the harms of excessive teen drinking, suggests one of Australia's leading alcohol experts. Professor Robin Room, the head of Australia's Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, tells The Herald Sun that pot causes "substantially less" harm than alcohol and tobacco. And given that alcohol-related violence and hospital admissions show no signs of waning in the country, he says it's "time for a discussion" on new approaches to the problem. "It makes sense to legalize marijuana in a controlled market," he says. "The other drugs have nothing on alcohol when it comes to its clear association with violence." Room, who is a leading academic at Melbourne University, notes that marijuana is not harmless, but he argues that mixing alcohol with pot—instead of purely drinking—makes teens "less likely to become aggressive." Chief Commissioner Ken Lay of Victoria Police is firmly opposed to the idea, saying: "I see the harm that marijuana and other drugs do to the community every day of the week." Other alcohol control schemes proposed by Room include raising the legal drinking age, limiting sales to certain hours, creating a government monopoly to control sales, lowering blood-alcohol limits for drivers, and limiting the number of liquor stores by area.

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