Legalise marijuana to deter teen binge drinking?

Legalise marijuana to deter teen binge drinking?

A leading alcohol researcher has controversially called for marijuana to be legalised to reduce the harm of teenage binge drinking.

Professor Robin Room, director of the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, said teenagers are more likely to avoid harm if they use marijuana instead of drinking or bingeing on alcohol.

"If you ask what the intrinsic harms of these different substances are, then alcohol comes out very high on the list," Prof Room said.

"We'd be better off having cannabis available on a restricted basis.

"The size of the harms from that (Cannabis) are relatively small compared to what you see and the size of the harms of alcohol."

He proposes marijuana should be legalised under strict controls, suggesting its sale be restricted to regulated sellers and not available at supermarkets.

"I think if you had a legal and regulated market then the government would have much better control over what is happening," he said.

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Prof Room, a Melbourne University academic, said teenagers would likely land themselves in less trouble using cannabis, arguing alcohol induces violence and aggression.

He said the majority of violence on the streets is alcohol-related and has called on the government to apply tighter controls to regulate the industry in terms of sales and marketing.

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