Giles Newton-Howes: Is medical cannabis a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

By July 27, 2018 Recent News

NZ Herald 27 July 2018
Family First Comment: Excellent analysis…
“The link between legislation of cannabis for medical uses and a growth in drug use disorder is great. With increasing use of cannabis in the community, the mental health problems directly related to use are likely to increase. These are well documented and include psychosis, anxiety disorders, cognitive problems and as mentioned above, addiction.”

As the debate over legalising medical cannabis burns on, the arguments for potential benefits need to be weighed against the arguments for potential risks, particularly to mental health and society’s view of the drug generally.

The use of cannabis as a medicine has a long tradition with a wide variety of ailments identified as potentially being ameliorated by it. There is also growing interest in its use for largely neuropsychiatric conditions, such as spasticity and seizures.

Although there may be benefits in the use of cannabis and cannabis-based products, there is also a potential negative impact on mental health, both in terms of individual use and how society sees cannabis more generally. This is important as cannabis is widely used in New Zealand, despite our current prohibitionist stance.

Cannabis is generally used for its pleasurable psychoactive effects, although there is a clear overlap between those who report use for pleasure and for “medical” purposes.

Use in New Zealand is high by international standards and it is interesting to see that in the United States, where legislation on legal use of cannabis varies by state, there appears to be increasing rates of addiction problems where cannabis is legally allowed as medicine.