Media Release 2 March 2016
Family First NZ is rejecting calls to decriminalise marijuana, and says that decriminalising marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people.
“It is ironic that at the same time as we ban synthetic cannabis, and tear the labelling off cigarette packets, price them out of existence, and ban them from being smoked within breathing space of any living creature, supporters of marijuana are peddling the same myths that we believed for far too long about tobacco – that marijuana is harmless.” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Supporters of decriminalisation would have us believe that cannabis is a gentle, harmless substance that gives users little more than a sense of mellow euphoria and hurts no one else. But the cannabis now in circulation is many times more powerful than that typically found in the early 1990s, with up to a 25-fold increase in the amount of the main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabidinol (THC). Naturally, growers want to sell marijuana with increased potency because it’s more addictive. With increased potency comes increased health risks, greater likelihood of addiction, and the potential gateway in to other and often more harmful drugs.”
“Drug use is both a criminal and a health issue. There is a false dichotomy that criminal sanctions haven’t worked so we should ditch them all together and we should focus only on education and health initiatives. We should maintain both. Policing burglary and theft also costs money – should we decriminalise that also because the ‘war on burglary’ is failing?” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Colorado is offering a disturbing preview of what may happen if we decriminalise marijuana. A 2014 government report have revealed a sharp increase in pot-related calls to poison control; seizures have quadrupled; deaths have been attributed to marijuana overdoses; neighbouring states are experiencing a surge in pot use; and advertising through every available medium blankets the State, desensitising people to the risks. Perhaps most troubling, the drug is infiltrating Colorado schools, which now have lists of young people waiting to get help. Teens who use pot face nearly twice the risk of addiction as adult users, and juvenile usage increases the brain damage associated with the drug.”
“Erroneous claims that drug use is a health issue and we are wasting time and resources focusing on the criminal aspect fail to understand that there has been a substantial decline in arrests for cannabis use in New Zealand over the past decade, and that police diversion and Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Courts have been increasingly used.”
“Decriminalising marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health and public safety, and about our young people. We will then start sending the message that marijuana isn’t that big a deal and that adults got the ‘say no to drugs’ message wrong,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“The grass is not always greener.”