Australia Fair: Young and free?

“Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free,” proclaims Australia’s national anthem. But when it comes to drug usage, Australia is a land of slaves.

The United Nations’ annual drug report, released on June 26, places the country at the top of the charts of drug usage per capita. Australians rank first in ecstasy usage, third in methamphetamines, and fourth in cocaine. Aussies lead the global pack in using recreational drugs. Young lower-class Australians in particular are gorging on party drugs.

Australians’ use of prescribed drugs is also high. Australia ranked a close second behind the United States with 3.1 to 3.6 percent of 15-to-65-year-olds considered regular users. Pill-popping is especially prevalent in women.

Studies also show that more than 10 percent of the working population of Australia was using marijuana in 2010. Since that time, availability has increased, driving consumption rates even higher.

According to a National Council on Drugs report, one in eight deaths for Australians under age 25 is related to alcohol consumption. Twenty percent of Australians are drinking at levels that put them at risk of permanent harm from injury and disease. Sixty percent of all calls requesting police presence are alcohol related.

The report said that young Australians drink less frequently overall compared to some nations, but they binge drink far more. Nearly two thirds of the 19-to-25-year-olds said they drank specifically to become intoxicated.

With one in five young Australians ending up in a hospital because of alcohol-related incidents, and Australia now the global leader in drug usage, there is little cause for rejoicing at the sight of our “young and free” citizens.

Anglicans: Yes to female bishops

The Church of England voted on July 14 to allow women to become bishops. The legislation still needs the approval of Britain’s Parliament, which it will likely get on November 17. This decision could divide Anglicans and push traditionalists toward Rome.

Many in the Church of England are thrilled by the prospect of women bishops, but a significant number worry that the legislation does not adequately cater for those who believe that women bishops are unbiblical. Director of the conservative Reform group, Susie Leafe, said she is “very disappointed” by the result. “There is still at least a quarter of the church for whom this package does not provide for their theological convictions,” she said.

Some of those voting for the new measures admitted they were compromising their personal beliefs in order to conform to modern society. “I shall be voting in favor today,” Adrian Vincent said. “By doing so, I am betraying what I believe, I am betraying those who trusted in me.”

This result could send some who oppose female bishops to the Roman Catholic Church. The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a branch of the Catholic Church set up by Pope Benedict xvi to make it easier for defecting Anglicans to return to Rome, is renewing its efforts to reach out to Church of England members in the wake of the vote.

There is little evidence of a mass exodus yet, but it is still in its early stages.

Berkeley: the People’s Republic of Pot

On July 8, the city council of Berkeley, California, unanimously voted for an ordinance that requires dispensaries of medicinal marijuana to give 2 percent of their product to “very low-income” people.

According to the council, “very low-income” means any individual with an annual income below $32,000, or families of four making less than $46,000.

The drafters of the ordinance also specified that the free marijuana “shall be the same quality on average as medical cannabis that is dispensed to other [paying] members.”

The California Department of Public Health lists only 11 approved conditions that qualify an individual to receive medicinal marijuana. Among these are arthritis, anorexia and nausea. But it also includes “any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person’s ability to conduct one or more of major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person’s safety, physical or mental health.” That loophole gives a medicinal marijuana card to almost any creative marijuana-seeker.