Leader of the Australian Sex Party, Fiona Patten (pictured) says legalising marijuana in Australia is the most effective and immediate way of reducing alcohol-fuelled violence on our city streets.
“Too much alcohol makes people aggressive. Too much marijuana puts them to sleep,” said Ms Patten, who wants to see Dutch-style marijuana cafes in problem areas like Sydney’s Kings Cross.
“Opening legal marijuana cafes like Amsterdam would lead to more restaurants, galleries, tea and coffee houses and a more diverse range of late night venues,” she said. “You don’t see alcohol-fuelled violence on the streets of Amsterdam late at night”.
Quoting the latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey (2010) in a press release, Ms Patten said 10.3% of Australians over the age of 14 had used cannabis in the past 12 months and 35.4% had used cannabis at some time in their life.
“Most of these people will tell legislators that marijuana made them less violent than if they had used alcohol,” she said. “Many of those who go out and binge on alcohol for a night would swap for marijuana if it was legal”.
She also said legalising marijuana has the added advantage of raising millions of dollars in taxes for national drug and alcohol education programs.
“Most consumers of cannabis are not problematic users and but for the few who are, the financial burden of their problem is borne by the rest of the non-cannabis smoking community,” she said. “If the product is taxed, then the cannabis smoking community pays for those who need help – freeing up of vital healthcare money for elsewhere.”
Patten, who formed the Australian Sex Party in 2009 and has twice failed to win a Senate seat in Federal Parliament, is a vocal advocate for drug law reform and believes drug addiction should be treated as a health issue.
She told Australian Women Online in August 2013, a trip to Portugal, a country renowned for its progressive approach to drugs policy, was influential in shaping her thinking on this issue. “They’ve legalised drug use, improved treatment facilities, and it’s the one place where drug use amongst 13 to 17 year olds is actually going down.”