Cannabis campaigners say New Zealand is lagging behind the rest of the world

By January 30, 2018 Recent News

Stuff 28 January 2018
Family First Comment: Rest of the world??? Dream on. Couple of countries and states – who are now paying the price, as this article highlights!

While Labour’s arrangement with the Greens promises a referendum by the 2020 election to decide whether the personal use of cannabis should be legal, pro-marijuana activists believe New Zealand is at risk of falling way behind and want the Government to act sooner.

Canada is set to become the second country in the world to legalise the consumption and sale of cannabis for personal use, after Uruguay made the move last year. California has just become the sixth US state to allow the sale of cannabis products for recreational use.

But as the effects of legalisation are starting to be felt, there are some concerning trends emerging.

A recent 2017 review outlining the impact of legalisation of cannabis in Colorado revealed an increase in cannabis-related traffic deaths and road accidents; cannabis-related emergency visits and hospitalisations; accidental cannabis poisoning in children; and an increase in cannabis use in overall population.

The state has also seen an eight per cent rise in homelessness since 2013, a year after the state backed legalisation, fuelling speculation over whether the looser rules are to blame.

Perhaps the most significant benefit to the state is tax, which received $198.5 million in revenue last year from cannabis sales of $1.3 billion. The industry also added over 18,000 new full-time jobs in 2015 and spurred $2.4 billion in economic activity.

Bob McCoskrie, of Christian lobby group Family First NZ, says legalising cannabis is “the wrong path” because there are just too many health risks.

Their website, Say No to Dope, aims at informing families about the attempts and harms to legalise cannabis, and to help them speak up in the public debate. But the group supports the government’s current legislation around medicinal cannabis and any further research around non-smoked forms.

“Families simply don’t want marijuana plants being grown next door by dope dealers in view of the children, tinnie houses on street corners and pot shops in local shopping areas, or marijuana being disguised as lollies and edibles as has happened overseas,” he says.

“There is a false dichotomy that criminal sanctions apparently 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, theft and the drug P also costs money – should we decriminalise these also because the ‘war on burglary’ or the ‘war on P’ is failing?”