Furore over brochure on taking illegal drugs

A controversial brochure from a New South Wales Department of Health which offers advice to young people on the use of drugs such as cannabis, has caused a major furore.

Aimed at students in years 9 and 10, it has already been distributed among western Sydney high schools.

The intention of the brochure, "Choosing to use but wanna keep your head together", was to minimise the risk of taking illegal drugs - but it has caused an uproar because it has been regarded by many as implying tacit approval for drug experimentation.

The brochure was in the process of being distributed in schools and community facilities, and was aimed at teenagers thought to be at high risk of drug use and includes advice for students to wait until they turn 18 before experimenting with drugs, and then to "use only small amounts and not too often".

However the NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher has recalled the brochure and says its advice about what people should do if they take drugs is unacceptable.

The Health Minister says while much of the information in the brochure is focused on encouraging young people not to use drugs, there is a difference between harm minimisation and a message that suggests tacit approval.

She says any message to young people that implies experimenting with drugs is acceptable will not be tolerated.

The leaflet which was published by Sydney West Area Health Service has prompted a demand from the NSW government for the Department of Health to review all drug education material for young people.

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