By ALEX MITCHELL
March 20, 2006
The Age (AU)
A NSW Health Department report to be released today
proves the devastating impact of cannabis abuse on the
mental and physical health of chronic abusers.
Announcing a Government offensive to curb cannabis
use, Health Minister John Hatzistergos said: "This
report should silence the apologists for the so-called
soft drug market.
"Using cannabis is self-inflicted destruction of the
mind and the body.
"Anyone who thinks cannabis is a soft drug should come
to visit a psychiatric unit to see its devastating
Announcing the site of the state's fourth cannabis
clinic to treat chronic users, Mr Hatzistergos said
abuse of the nation's most widely used illicit drug
could lead to psychosis, depression, anxiety and
increased suicide risk; detrimental effects on the
cardiovascular, respiratory and immune systems;
premature ageing of the brain responsible for
short-term memory; and slow brain development at a
"With the incidence of mental illness among cannabis
users on the rise, it is now more important than ever
to take action," he said.
"Cannabis is also often part of a wider pattern of
substance abuse, including cigarettes, alcohol and
"Long-term use can lead to both physical and