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Cannabis damaging, says study



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 affects."


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 young age.


"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 other drugs.


"Long-term use can lead to both physical and psychological dependence."