New Zealand cannabis hospitalisations more than double in decade – Ministry of Health

By August 18, 2019 Recent News

NewsHub 14 August 2019
New Zealand’s cannabis-related hospitalisations have more than doubled in the past decade.

New statistics, collected by the Ministry of Health, show that in 2008 only 192 people were released from hospital with a primary cannabis diagnosis. However, by 2018, this had increased to 505.

Otago University Professor Joseph Boden, who has been appointed to New Zealand’s expert panel on cannabis, says the increase is probably due to a combination of factors.

“One is that people are more aware these days of the harms associated with cannabis, and may be more accurate in attributing their symptoms to their use of cannabis,” he told Newshub.

“Second is that [as] in overseas jurisdictions, cannabis use is becoming more normalised, so patients may be more willing to admit to it during a medical examination in the ED.

“Third is that there may be some error of measurement, such that patients say that they have used cannabis when they have in fact used synthetic cannabis.”

“The evidence shows the number of hospital admissions rise when recreational marijuana is legalised, in Colorado there was a threefold increase in emergency room visits,” says Paula Bennett, National’s spokesperson for drug reform.

“The increase is because of wider availability of recreational marijuana, combined with limited education on the harms it causes, and a natural willingness of people to try it once it becomes legal.

“We can’t rule out children getting their hands on marijuana mistakenly if edibles, drinks and lotions are available. They are marketed to appeal to younger people.”

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie says the fact remains there is no ‘safe drug’.

“These stats will only worsen if marijuana is legalised in New Zealand and the marijuana industry floods the market with highly potent cannabis concentrates – edibles, dabbing (smoking highly concentrated THC) and vaping – as they have in all other jurisdictions where dope has been allowed,” he told Newshub.

“This should sound the warning bell that marijuana is absolutely a health issue, which is why the law is so important for protecting public health and safety. A soft approach would be a disaster.”

“At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, why would we legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm? It’s patently obvious that legalisation will increase its use and harm. So-called ‘regulation’ doesn’t change the fact that drugs harm.”

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