Dominion Post 22 Dec 08
A new breed of powerful cannabis and ballooning costs in treating its health effects have led to calls for urgent action, including drug education for primary school children.
The information, in a National Drug Intelligence Bureau report obtained by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act, shows that cannabis, the most widely used illicit drug, creates more than $30 million a year in hospital bills.
The report the first of its kind to use information from Customs, health and police officials warns that the drug is likely to become more harmful. The threat posed by high-potency “re-engineered” cannabis has been steadily increasing, it says.
Hospital costs jumped 50 per cent from $19.5 million in 2004 to $31 million in 2005. Of the 2062 hospital cases in 2005, 48 admissions cost between $100,000 and $370,000 each.
The report calls for further action to reduce supply and demand as communities have become “comfortable with high prevalence levels”. Included is a call to curb the “alarming” trend of teenagers to use cannabis by making drug education programmes an immediate priority in primary schools.