Teetotal bikie-supporting lawyer wants marijuana legalised

ACCORDING to Rockhampton solicitor Doug Winning, possession of marijuana in non-commercial quantities, for personal use could represent up to one in 10 cases heard in the magistrate's court.

Two US states have now legalised the drug and in December Uruguay became the first country to pass laws making it legal.

Peru is expected to follow suit and the Danish city of Copenhagen is proposing a three-year trial in attempt to reduce organised crime and improve life for users.

"Marijuana users move in the drug community; some on the fringe, some in the middle," said Mr Winning.

"If you legalise the use of cannabis, you take those users out of the subculture and they are more likely to become potential witnesses to more serious Schedule 1 drugs."

Mr Winning doesn't drink alcohol or use drugs and said he wouldn't encourage anyone to use either.

"But from a community perspective, I think it should be legalised."

It has been well documented that US President Barack Obama smoked cannabis when he was young.

"I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life," Mr Obama told United Press International.

But he maintains it is no more dangerous than alcohol.

Mr Winning said he agreed 100% with President Obama's comments, but it was difficult to legislate.

"There are a lot of questions we don't have the answers to, but criminalising a young person for the rest of their lives for smoking a joint is very artificial," he said.

"I'm in favour of a sensible approach to its use and the legal system in relation to it.

"We're over-regulated as a society. We need practical solutions rather than criminalising everyday behaviour."

In the meantime, one of the world's largest drug policy experiments is being closely monitored.

Portugal considered the two ways to take back control of a growing problem: crack down on the suppliers, or punish the users, and opted for decriminalisation.

After 13 years, the programs instigator, João Goulão said they hadn't found a miracle cure to drug use, but that decriminalisation hadn't made the problem worse.

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