An octogenarian who wants cannabis and ecstasy legalised and has campaigned for safe injecting rooms has been named Victorian of the Year.
Professor David Penington heads a committee advising the Victorian Government on its drug policies and was in charge of the Hawke government's national advisory committee on AIDS, which was largely responsible for the Grim Reaper campaign.
The 84-year-old also controversially proposed a system to allow Australians, aged 16 and over, access to cannabis and ecstasy provided they sign up to a national users' register.
Professor Penington said he was surprised to receive the honour of Victorian of the Year at an award ceremony in Melbourne."At the age of 84 I was really looking forward to genteel disappearance from the scene," he said.
But he said he would use his new title to continue his push for drug reform.
"The reality is that prohibition just hasn't worked for 100 years and the problems are getting worse," Professor Penington said.
"We've got to find better ways to handle illicit drugs."
Professor Penington recently set up the Penington Institute to assist local communities with the growing prevalence of the drug ice in regional Victoria.
"It involves police, it involves local organisations and families to educate young people about the damage that they're doing to their brains," he said.