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Ed

College-age kids and teens are drinking less alcohol – marijuana is a different story

The Conversation 21 November 2020
Family First Comment: “While alcohol use is falling among 18-to-22-year-olds, marijuana use is inching upward. The number of young adults using both alcohol and marijuana is also rising, heightening concerns about a future surge in substance abuse problems, new research shows. The bad news is that the number of college-age young adults saying they used marijuana at least once in the previous year has increased, from 33% to 37%. The vast majority who said they used marijuana also used alcohol. We found that the increase in young adults using both was a result of young adults who used alcohol taking up marijuana, too. This increase in using both alcohol and marijuana is an important warning sign, because young adults in that group also had much higher rates of other illicit drug use, like cocaine, and prescription drug misuse, involving medications like opioids or benzodiazepines.”

Young adults aren’t drinking as much as they used to. In fact, more than a quarter don’t drink alcohol at all, recent surveys show.

It’s good news for health. But there is also a downside in the data: While alcohol use is falling among 18-to-22-year-olds, marijuana use is inching upward. The number of young adults using both alcohol and marijuana is also rising, heightening concerns about a future surge in substance abuse problems, new research shows.

I am a professor of psychology at Texas State University who has been studying young adult and adolescent substance use for over 15 years. A key interest of mine is how substance use changes over adolescence and young adulthood. It is a period of profound change: A 13-year-old is very different from a 25-year-old in nearly every way.

With colleagues at the University of Michigan, the University of Central Florida and Iowa State University, I have been investigating trends in alcohol and marijuana use in young adults to better understand how use changes with age. The latest numbers offer both hope and concern.

Gen Z is breaking stereotypes
There are reasons for the stereotype of hard-drinking, substance-using young adults, as photos and videos from bars and college parties will attest. But surveys and our analysis suggest that binge drinking isn’t as common as people may believe it is.

Using data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, we found that in 2018 nearly 30% of college-age adults, ages 18-22, had not had a single alcoholic drink during the previous year, compared with fewer than a quarter in 2002. Over 60% had not used marijuana at all.
READ MORE: https://theconversation.com/college-age-kids-and-teens-are-drinking-less-alcohol-marijuana-is-a-different-story-149895

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Illegality of cannabis keeps use low – Ministry of Health

Latest data from the Ministry of Health shows that past 12 month use of cannabis has remained at just 14.9%.

In contrast, 4 in 5 adults drank alcohol in past year.

The law is a deterrent – and the coercion of the law ensures referral to health services.

Win win.

Unfortunately Maori are more than twice as likely to use cannabis than non-Maori.

The solution is not to normalise drug use. The solution is to find out why Maori are more prone to drug use, and deal with the underlying issues.

The data also shows that young people are most at risk – and legalising it would simply add to the normalisation, availability, health harms and targeting towards this subgroup.

DEA: Teen depression and suicide linked to marijuana use

Fox 29 18 November 2020
Family First Comment: “In 2019, there were nearly 700,000 youths, ages 12 to 17, that was addicted to marijuana, which shows an increase of nearly 187,000 new youth in 2019 alone with cannabis use disorder,” said Dr. Kenneth Finn, Pain Medicine Physician in Colorado. Finn has seen the negative effects it’s having on teens who live in a state where marijuana is legalized. “When you’re having a fragile brain that is still developing and having negative impacts on that, some of those bridges, you cannot uncross, like the schizophrenic or the psychosis, some of that those symptoms persist even after cessation of use.” According to the Institute for Social Research, almost 80% of seniors in 2018 say getting marijuana is very easy.
Of course it is. Legalise = normalise.

More and more research suggests the high potency of THC or marijuana is having dangerous impacts on the developing brains of teenagers. Teens who use cannabis could be at a higher risk of experiencing depression and attempting suicide.

“In 2019, there were nearly 700,000 youths, ages 12 to 17, that was addicted to marijuana, which shows an increase of nearly 187,000 new youth in 2019 alone with cannabis use disorder,” said Dr. Kenneth Finn, Pain Medicine Physician in Colorado.

Finn has seen the negative effects it’s having on teens who live in a state where marijuana is legalized.

According to the Institute for Social Research, almost 80% of seniors in 2018 say getting marijuana is very easy. The latest study show marijuana is linked to school failure. Marijuana’s negative effects on attention, memory, and learning can last for days and sometimes weeks. Some students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school, compared with their peers who don’t use.
READ MORE: https://foxsanantonio.com/news/yami-investigates/dea-teen-depression-and-suicide-linked-to-marijuana-use
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Prosecution of Māori for cannabis offences falling – Police Commissioner

Radio NZ News 18 November 2020
Family First Comment: Looks like the current law is working well.
40% reduction in cannabis prosecutions in the last 5 years. Statistics for the three months to September show prosecutions for Māori are down by 17%, and there’s been a 50% increase in warnings to Māori where there are two or more offences. Fewer than 20% of all people caught with cannabis were prosecuted, and 500 people have been referred to health professionals.
Health and coercion and deterrent of the law. 🙂

The Police Commissioner has rejected criticism that Māori are still being unfairly prosecuted for low level cannabis offences but is concerned they are more likely to be found in possession of the drug.

The Māori Council and the Drug Foundation say a law change last year giving police more discretionary powers has done nothing.

Andrew Coster told Nine to Noon the law change was intended to confirm what was already happening.

He said there has been about a 40 percent reduction in cannabis prosecutions in the last five years.

Statistics for the three months to September show prosecutions for Māori are down by 17 percent, and there’s been a 50 percent increase in warnings to Māori where there are two or more offences.

“So we have seen a continued ongoing trend of greater use of warnings and a lesser use of prosecutions and that is consistent with the trend that has been running over the last five years.”

Fewer than 20 percent of all people caught with cannabis were prosecuted, and 500 people have been referred to health professionals.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/430879/prosecution-of-maori-for-cannabis-offences-falling-police-commissioner

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How do high school seniors in the US get marijuana? Friends.

Family First Comment: The most common way adolescents get marijuana is from friends (bought or shared). Not the black market.
But once they’re hooked, ‘then’ they’re more likely to use a stranger / drug dealer.
#saynopetodope

Anna C. Wagner and colleagues at the University of Minnesota analyzed data from the national Monitoring the Future survey to determine where 12th-grade students who used marijuana in the past year got it.

The top three methods for getting marijuana were:
• Given for free from friends
• Bought from friends
• Bought from a drug dealer/stranger
Sociodemographic and frequency-of-use differences emerged in their analysis. Male students, urban students and recent frequent users tended to buy marijuana from a drug dealer, while nonfrequent users were more likely to have friends who gave it to them for free.

The researchers say that knowing where adolescents get marijuana is useful for targeting specific prevention messages to specific groups.

Read Addictive Behaviors abstract here.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306460320308601

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Cannabis resin now 25% more potent, global study reveals

The Guardian 15 November 2020
Family First Comment: “In herbal cannabis, THC concentrations increased by 14% between 1970 and 2017. This was primarily due to a rising market share of stronger varieties, such as sinsemilla. Concentrations in cannabis resin, which is extracted from herbal cannabis, increased by 24% between 1975 and 2017.”
And with higher potency comes greater harm and addictions. This is not your parent’s pot.

Concentrations of intoxicating THC have risen, data from more than 80,000 street drug samples gathered over 50 years shows.

Cannabis resin – or “hash” – has increased in strength by nearly 25% over the past half century, a major international study has revealed.

Researchers with the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath analysed data from more than 80,000 cannabis street samples tested in the past 50 years in the US, UK, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Italy and New Zealand.

Their findings, published in the journal Addiction, reveal concentrations of THC – the intoxicating component of cannabis responsible for giving users a “high” – have changed over time.

In herbal cannabis, THC concentrations increased by 14% between 1970 and 2017. This was primarily due to a rising market share of stronger varieties, such as sinsemilla. Concentrations in cannabis resin, which is extracted from herbal cannabis, increased by 24% between 1975 and 2017.

This was the equivalent of a 5mg increase in THC per annum. One 5mg dose is enough for mild intoxication, according to the researchers.

“Cannabis has continued to increase in strength over time, such that today it differs enormously from the type of drug used by people 50 years ago,” said lead author Dr Tom Freeman. “During this time attitudes have also shifted. There is now a greater appreciation of its complex interplay with mental health and potential medicinal uses.”
READ MORE: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/15/cannabis-resin-now-25-more-potent-global-study-reveals?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Medicinal cannabis companies have mixed feelings about referendum outcome

Radio NZ News 11 November 2020
A medicinal cannabis company is relieved the referendum went up in smoke, saying more research into the drug is needed.

Meanwhile, other companies are disappointed in the result but they say the result won’t shake their business too much.

The cannabis referendum recently flopped by a slim margin – 50.7 percent of New Zealanders said no, but 48.4 percent supported the legalisation of recreational cannabis.

Doctors can already prescribe medicinal cannabis, but New Zealand companies are still developing products for use.

The first MedCan summit took place yesterday, drawing dozens of industry members to Auckland’s Aotea Centre.

Among those attending the summit was Greenlab director Parmjit Randhawa.

Greenlab, a Christchurch-based medicinal cannabis company, is aiming to make its market debut next year.

Randhawa was glad that the referendum failed to pass, as he did not think there was enough research on the active compounds in cannabis, or consistent results from clinical trials.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/430326/medicinal-cannabis-companies-have-mixed-feelings-about-referendum-outcome

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Special votes fail to swing cannabis referendum, weed won’t be legalised in New Zealand

NewsHub 6 November 2020
New Zealand has voted not to legalise recreational cannabis, final referendum results show – despite special votes narrowing the margin of defeat.

While they narrowed the margin of victory for the ‘no’ campaign, the newly counted votes weren’t enough to swing the referendum in favour of legalisation.

The final results showed 1,406,973 (48.4 percent) of Kiwis support bringing the Bill into force, with 1,474,635 (50.7 percent) against. Another 26,463 people (0.9 percent) did not clearly indicate the option for which they wish to vote.

The defeat means the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill will not be introduced to Parliament, and possession and consumption of cannabis will remain illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/11/nz-election-special-votes-fail-to-swing-cannabis-referendum-weed-won-t-be-legalised-in-new-zealand.html

Tears and anger as special votes fail to flip narrow cannabis referendum loss
Stuff co.nz 6 November 2020
Say Nope to Dope spokesperson Aaron Ironside said the group was pleased, and relieved, with the result.

Despite their opposition to recreational cannabis, the group was backing further reforms for medicinal users.

“I think the reason that the no vote has won is enough New Zealanders believe enough reform has occurred with medicinal cannabis being legal, although that law obviously needs to be improved, and a change to the Misuse of Drugs Act. I think really this is a vote which says this is enough change for now.”

He felt medicinal cannabis needs to be made available to people who were sick and suffering.

“We think a no vote forces the Government to fix a broken law, rather than to try to overlook the weakness of that law by bringing in legalisation.”
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/123324311/tears-and-anger-as-special-votes-fail-to-flip-narrow-cannabis-referendum-loss

Referendum on legalisation of cannabis narrowly fails after special votes counted
TVNZ One News 6 November 2020
Family First’s Bob McCoskrie of the Say Nope to Dope campaign said last week he was “pretty stoked”.

“We’ll celebrate the win, we’re glad New Zealanders said nope to dope and understood the perceived benefits of legalisation were not greater than the harms that were going to come on society.”

“It’s been a hard-fought campaign on both sides. It’s good we can have these sorts of debates.”
READ MORE: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/referendum-legalisation-cannabis-narrowly-fails-after-special-votes-counted

‘No’ vote for cannabis legalisation shrinks to 50.7 percent after final votes
Radio NZ News 6 November 2020
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/430007/no-vote-for-cannabis-legalisation-shrinks-to-50-point-7-percent-after-final-votes

Gap closes on cannabis referendum but it still fails
NewsTalk ZB 6 November 2020
https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/vote-2020/gap-closes-on-cannabis-referendum-but-it-still-fails/

Election 2020 final results: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won’t move on cannabis laws, has no regrets staying silent on her vote
NZ Herald 6 November 2020
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/election-2020-final-results-prime-minister-jacinda-ardern-wont-move-on-cannabis-laws-has-no-regrets-staying-silent-on-her-vote/VKSNHFIKCN7TRWICKVR4LXKAGU/

Election 2020: Jacinda Ardern has no regrets about staying mum on cannabis despite close margin
NZ Herald 7 November 2020
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has not had a change of heart about keeping her cannabis vote secret despite the final, narrow margin in the referendum – only 2 per cent.

Ardern had voted to legalise cannabis for recreational use, but didn’t say how she voted until after the provisional results were revealed three weeks ago.

Say Nope To Dope spokesman Aaron Ironside says New Zealand has dodged a bullet by rejecting the legalisation of cannabis.

“In US states that have already legalised the drug, these states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, and sustained marijuana arrest rates.”
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/election-2020-jacinda-ardern-has-no-regrets-about-staying-mum-on-cannabis-despite-close-margin/Q77WPTNS6F3LXTDNWI4VGW3G6A/

Referendum result a blessing for medicinal cannabis industry
Stuff co.nz 7 November 2020
Meanwhile the medicinal industry already has its enabling legislation.

The scheme became operational on April 1. It treats medicinal cannabis products like any other pharmaceutical product and requires them to be manufactured according to current good manufacturing practices and conform to strict quality standards.

The scheme also provides the ability for your local GP to prescribe cannabis based medication right now, though only about 5 per cent choose to.

The problem is that it’s expensive, currently, around $350 for a script though there are reports of over $400 for some products. That script might last you a month if you are lucky.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/300151873/referendum-result-a-blessing-for-medicinal-cannabis-industry?cid=app-iPhone

Cannabis referendum: Helen Clark urges Government to rethink its stubborn cannabis stance
NewsHub 7 November 2020
Checkpoint host Lisa Owen asked Clark how cannabis reform can progress from here.

“The country split down the middle on a particular concept of legalisation. And I think there’s every grounds now for the Government to be looking very carefully at this, beginning to discuss with other parties, including obviously the Green Party, on where to go from here.

“What I found as one who got quite involved in the debate was a lot of people said: ‘oh we’d like to decriminalise but quite legalised as a step too far’. Well, let’s take those people at their word.

“I think there will be a majority out there for some change, but a lot of discussion has to go on to determine what that change could be.”
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/11/cannabis-referendum-helen-clark-urges-government-to-rethink-its-stubborn-cannabis-stance.html

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Confirmed: Majority Of NZers Say Nope To Dope

Media Release 6 November 2020
The SayNopetoDope Campaign is welcoming the official result of the referendum on cannabis legalisation which has confirmed that the majority of New Zealanders have said nope to legalising cannabis.

“New Zealand has dodged a bullet by rejecting the legalisation of the recreational use of this drug. At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, legalising and legitimising a mind-altering and addictive drug would have simply added to social harm,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

“The report on cannabis legalisation by BERL admitted that pot shops would have become as noticeable in number as fast food outlets, that the black market would continue, and that usage would increase by almost 30% – and especially amongst the 20-30 age group. This was a wake-up call to most New Zealanders about the reality of legalisation.”

“The use of cannabis is associated with increased risks of a number of adverse outcomes including educational delay, welfare dependence, increased risks of psychotic symptoms, major depression, increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, increased risks of other illicit drug use, and respiratory impairment. In US states that have already legalised the drug, these states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, and sustained marijuana arrest rates.”

“We have always argued that drug use is both a criminal and a health issue. A smart arrest policy can both provide a societal stamp of disapproval and provide an opportunity to intervene and stop the progression of use. Keeping cannabis illegal through an appropriate application of the laws that cater for ‘youthful indiscretions’ and which focus predominantly on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy. But if those with addictions commit serious offences, as does happen, the criminal law cannot simply turn a blind eye. The community still needs to be protected.”

“We fully support the increased provision and funding of drug counselling services, drug treatment centers and drug education programmes in schools. These should remain our preferred ‘smart’ approach to cannabis use. The medicinal cannabis regime should also be reviewed in order to ensure that safe and effective medicines are available by prescription to patients who would benefit.”
ENDS

 

“The NZ cannabis referendum prove it’s the simple messages that cut through”

Cannabiz.com 4 November 2020
There’s a brilliant book about politics in the age of Donald Trump and Twitter called Yes We (Still) Can by Dan Pfeiffer, former communications director in the Obama White House.

In a section called Best Messenger Wins, he describes asking a panel of voters after the 2016 election to sum up Donald Trump’s campaign message. The audience would shout back as one: “Make America Great Again!”

When he asked if they knew what Trump’s argument against Hillary Clinton was, they would say: “Lock Her Up”.

But when the same questions were asked about Clinton’s campaign, there were a range of responses, and none uttered with much conviction.

“For all of Trump’s offensive statements and absurd tweets,” writes Pfeiffer, “he had a clear and consistent message that broke through.”

The passage came back to me last Friday when the interim results of New Zealand’s cannabis referendum indicated the No campaign had won the day.

This is by no means a criticism of the Yes campaign. But in an age when nuanced discussion will always be drowned out by snappy soundbites, it’s increasingly hard for positive arguments to be heard.

Saying what you’re against is so much easier to sum up in 280 characters or less.

Especially if the case you are making is less than straightforward. Just take a look at the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.

It would allow people aged 20 or over buy up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) per day from licensed outlets; enter licensed premises where cannabis is sold or consumed; consume cannabis on private property or at licensed premises; grow up to two plants, with a maximum of four plants per household; and share up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) with another person aged 20 or over.

That’s a lot of detail to digest. It’s not surprising that people without skin in the game appear to have put it in the “too hard’ basket.

A quick look at two of the campaign websites sums up the difference.

On saynopetodope.org.nz there are a series of posters featuring the “too precious to be wasted” tagline and some powerful imagery. An All Black here, a crashed car there, and a group of children playing happily outside a “Dope Shop”. All underscored by the core message “Say Nope to Dope”.

Meanwhile, over at makeitlegal.nz there are “20 reasons to vote yes” and a detailed explanation of the Advertising Standards Authority’s decision to deny a complaint by the No campaign about one of its ads pointing out the negative consequences of keeping prohibition.

The site notes: “The Noper campaigns, guided by their US handlers, have been pulling a range of dirty tricks against us… Spurious complaints, trying to get us banned from social media, sowing misinformation and confusion, it’s all par for the course. New Zealand people and New Zealand institutions will not be swayed by these kinds of tactics.”

Unfortunately, barring a near 70:30 Yes majority among special voters turning over the interim result, that’s precisely what will happen.

Because as much as progressive voters might like to think otherwise, for many people facts really do get in the way of a good story. Just look at the US for evidence.

There were undoubtedly other factors at play. There are around one million Kiwis living overseas at any one time and that won’t have helped. They are more likely to be younger and more tolerant of cannabis use. Yet there are only 480,000 special votes still to be counted.

The fact that the euthanasia vote went 65% Yes suggests it may have been older people stuck at home who tipped the balance against cannabis, while their children were off travelling the world.

It’s always good to blame the oldies when things don’t go your way. Or the prime minister, for only announcing her voting intentions after the result was announced.
READ MORE: https://www.cannabiz.com.au/the-nz-cannabis-referendum-and-us-presidential-election-prove-its-the-simple-messages-that-cut-through/

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