Beware the influence of vested interests’ input into the cannabis debate

By January 9, 2020 Recent News

Stuff co.nz 9 January 2020
Family First Comment: Superb article  warning of financial conflicts of interest by those arguing for legalisation of cannabis…
“In the ongoing public discussion of New Zealand’s decision on cannabis it is valuable to hear all perspectives, but when these reflect only major corporate vested interests it would be reasonable to expect an indication of this from the publisher.”
Media – take note.

OPINION: David Clement of the Toronto Consumer Center writes of mistakes he believes Canada made in recent legalisation of recreational cannabis use, warning New Zealand not to do the same.

He writes of the need to create a “more consumer friendly regulatory regime”. The gist of his recommendations is to allow the sale of higher potency products, keep prices low, and allow the marketing of cannabis.

It was not surprising to find on the Consumer Center website acknowledgement of funding from Facebook (a social media platform selling data on individuals’ characteristics to enable marketing to them) and from two cannabis corporations. It is certainly possible to infer the influence of these funders on Clement’s arguments.

Clement argues against a ban on cannabis advertising because it is inconsistent with our liberal approach to alcohol marketing, an argument we will expect to hear often from the cannabis corporations and their public relations surrogates.

However, this inconsistency is also an issue for those concerned with health and wellbeing. There is a certain irony in our Government saying there should be no marketing of cannabis because research shows the adverse impacts of alcohol marketing, yet successive New Zealand governments have failed to regulate alcohol marketing even in the face of costs from alcohol harm of $7 billion every year.

Marketing these products and keeping the price low, as Clement advocates, will increase the amount sold and correspondingly increase the number of people with cannabis-use disorder and cannabis-related motor vehicle crashes.

In the ongoing public discussion of New Zealand’s decision on cannabis it is valuable to hear all perspectives, but when these reflect only major corporate vested interests it would be reasonable to expect an indication of this from the publisher.

Professor Sally Casswell is a Professor of Public Health and Social Research at Massey University.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/118650579/beware-the-influence-of-vested-interests-input-into-the-cannabis-debate?cid=app-iPhone

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