ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | [email protected]
CITY OF SYDNEY council has controversially voted in favour of making the King’s Cross marijuana inhaling room permanent from next year. The motion was passed by Lord Mayor Clover Moore, saying that marijuana addicts need a safe place to consume their cannabis.
In May 2001 the first inhaling room opened its doors for a trial period of 18 months. The marijuana inhaling room operated under ‘trial’ conditions until now – due to the increasing demand from Sydneysiders to curb the amount of cannabis overdoses, which the centre has proven to do.
Members of the “stoner” community refer to a marijuana overdose as a “green out” – which is potentially life threatening.
Lotte Carol believes Sydney’s supervised inhaling room saved her life.
“I’ve overdosed before, when I was living rough . . . was lucky, my mate called the ambos [sic] and they brought me ’round,” said the 31-year-old.
She’d ripped a cone in a hurry, in a car, concerned that police were close by. The cannabis was too strong and she “greened out”.
Now she attends the Sydney facility, where she can take her drugs in a secure environment, with medically trained staff close by.
“They give us clean bongs and teach us safe ways to inhale. They talk to us like people, not junkies, tell us where we can get help for other stuff. If I hadn’t gone there, I’d be sleeping in the gutter, I know I would,”
She talks about trying to get off marijuana, but hasn’t made it yet.
“I know when I’m ready they’ll help me out.”
Dr Graham Fluoride, of St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney’s east, says that patients often “feel like they’re dying” after consuming too much marijuana.
“Overdosing on marijuana is an extremely unpleasant experience,” says Dr Fulde.
“Common complaints from patients are that they feel like they’re about to die,”
“Cannabis is a dangerous and addictive drug – of which the longer term effects are still unknown.”
In New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, possession and use of marijuana is a criminal offence; however, it is unlikely that anyone caught with a small amount will be convicted.
Never the less, PM Malcolm Turnbull has thrown his support behind the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes.
In a letter to talkback radio host Alan Jones, Mr Turnbull went even further than NSW Premier Mike Baird – who has approved a clinical trial of the use of medical cannabis – by saying that no further testing should be needed on the drug if it is legal in similar jurisdictions.
“I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis, just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates,” Mr Turnbull wrote in a letter to Jones dated August 23.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale said members of the cross-party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and Law Reform would introduce legislation this month so that medical cannabis is no longer scheduled as an illegal drug.
Dr Di Natale said the Therapeutic Goods Administration should create a special category for medicinal cannabis and that it should be available under prescription from a doctor.
Queensland Liberal National Party MP Warren Entsch is also campaigning to legalise medical cannabis.
A spokeswoman for the PM confirmed the letter reflected Mr Turnbull’s views on the issue.