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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 September 2019) . . Page.. 3782 ..

Ongoing and regular use of cannabis is associated with a number of negative long-term effects. Regular users of cannabis can become dependent and commonly reported symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, sleep difficulties, appetite disturbance and depression.

The AMA has warned that cannabis use can lead to a five-fold increase in psychosis amongst some users. Minister, what actions have you taken to reduce cannabis use amongst young adults in the ACT?

MR RATTENBURY: Mr Hanson of course has run this line of questioning in here before and, as I have indicated in this place, there are mixed views and there are different analyses on the impacts on people.

Mr Hanson: What about the AMA? The AIHW?

MR RATTENBURY: There are mixed views and I have read different reports and I have received different advice to that which Mr Hanson has. I have never denied in this place that, for some people, cannabis is clearly not good for them because of other conditions that exist for them and the like. This is an area—

Mr Hanson: On a point of order on relevance, the question was: what has the minister done to reduce cannabis use amongst young adults in the ACT? It is not about where the evidence may have come from. If he has not done anything to reduce it he should say so.

MADAM SPEAKER: You were interjecting within 30 seconds of the minister being on his feet. I will allow him to continue on the policy line to the question. Minister for Mental Health.

MR RATTENBURY: Thank you. The point I was coming to before I was interrupted several times by Mr Hanson simply was that there is information available from ACT Health and certainly through organisations like headspace which I have seen and which makes very clear to young people the risks involved in cannabis use.

I think an important part of having this conversation is to be factual, to present the information and to make young people aware of the potential risks of cannabis use rather than taking the approach that Mr Hanson wants to, which is to simply say, “Don’t do it because it’s bad.” I think we should have a mature, adult conversation with young people and make them very aware of the risks. I think this is the key to minimising the harm of drug use.

MR HANSON: Minister, are you aware of any individuals or organisations in Canberra that have been promoting cannabis use despite the evidence that it may cause long-term mental illness?

MR RATTENBURY: Not specifically, no.

MRS JONES: Minister, will reducing penalties for cannabis use lead to increased cannabis usage, as has happened in other jurisdictions overseas?

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