Australian Prof. Robin Room: Marijuana Does Less Social Harm Than Alcohol Or Tobacco

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The director of Australia’s leading alcohol research center is advocating for marijuana to be legalized in order to reduce the harm done from drinking. According to Professor Robin Room, the director of the Center for Alcohol Policy Research, marijuana should be legalized under strict controls because it causes less social damage than drinking.

"It makes sense to legalize marijuana in a controlled market," he said. "We are in a situation where we need to look ahead. I think we need to have the discussion and it makes a lot of sense in terms of, among others, cutting down government costs to have a fairly highly controlled legal [cannabis] market and, while we are at it, tighten up the legal market of alcohol in the same way we tightened up the market of tobacco."

Room’s research is funded by the Department of Human Services. According to the professor, it would be better if teens did not use either substance, but if they have to, they are less likely to get in trouble smoking marijuana, the Marijuana Policy Project reported.

"Cannabis is not without harm but it's substantially less than alcohol and tobacco in terms of social harm," he said. "If you are adding the cannabis to an equal amount of alcohol, then in some ways you'd be probably less likely to be aggressive but it's a bad idea to add it on if you want to drive a car."

Room is not advocating for full-blown legalization, but he does think that using "state sellers" and "state stores" to regulate the sale of marijuana would make sense. Room said he was aware that many people would be "surprised" and even "bothered" by his opinion, but he claimed the statistics back him up.

Sources: Marijuana Policy Project, The Herald Sun