All Posts By

Bob McCoskrie

NZ’s rampant meth drug culture

Stuff 20 September 2019
Family First Comment: The organised crime world is aware of the demand and is upping efforts to get the drug into the country.

The methamphetamine market in New Zealand is as lucrative as it is destructive.

Waste water testing suggests that every week New Zealanders consume 16 kilograms of the drug, costing them nearly $10 million, or $1.4m a day.

It’s estimated methamphetamine use costs the country $20 million in social harm.

Its use is rampant.

The organised crime world is aware of the demand and is upping efforts to get the drug into the country.

This year has been the biggest ever for meth seizures, with a whopping 1463 kilograms either stopped at the border or seized during police raids.

Among that are some huge hauls; just under 500kg of the drug was found in a shipment of electric motors from Thailand this month. Last month, 200kg was found in the closet of an Auckland apartment – and earlier in the year, Customs caught two Australians carrying 100 kilograms between them.

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Cannabis use by young significantly increases mental health risks

The Irish Times 16 September 2019
Family First Comment: Mary Cannon is a consultant psychiatrist and professor of psychiatric epidemiology and youth mental health at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland…
“There is now a strange paradox in society. Our politicians, media and celebrity influencers are increasingly conscious of mental health, particularly among the youth, and that it is a priority area. However, those very same people are likely to view cannabis as harmless or beneficial, despite the growing body of scientific evidence to the contrary… The public and legislators need to hear the other side of the story, free from the influence of cannabis industry lobbyists. We cannot sell our young people’s mental health for a quick buck.”

About one in five Irish todo15-16-year-olds report using cannabis. That means one in five adolescents are using a drug that can have a multitude of demonstrably negative effects on their short- and long-term mental health at a time when their brains are at the peak of their development.

Until relatively recently, cannabis use among Irish adolescents was in decline. In 2003, 17 per cent of 16-year-olds said they had used the drug in the past month; that number dropped to 7 per cent in 2011. The reverse began soon after. While there’s no single reason for this, one possible explanation is that the percentage of teenagers who view cannabis as “low risk” increased from 10 per cent in 2011 to almost 20 per cent in 2015.

As a society, we have come to view cannabis through rose-tinted glasses. Contrary to increasingly common belief, cannabis is not a harmless panacea, and it can be addictive. An estimated one in six who start smoking or ingesting cannabis before the age of 18 become dependent.

While the effects of alcohol and tobacco on physical health are well known, the public do not seem to be aware that cannabis can be toxic to young people’s developing brains. Over the past couple of decades, numerous scientific studies have shown that cannabis use in young people significantly increases the risk of developing mental health problems.

There is strong evidence that cannabis use increases the risk of depression and anxiety in young people. The risk of youth suicide increases three-fold. There are a large number of studies now showing that cannabis use causes psychosis.The risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia is particularly high in people who start using high potency cannabis during adolescence; it is estimated that 50 per cent of all new cases of first-episode psychosis in Amsterdam are due to cannabis.

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Latest Colorado Report Shows Ongoing Disaster of Marijuana

Media Release 19 September 2019
Family First NZ says that a new Colorado report compiled by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area finds marijuana-positive traffic fatalities, hospitalisations, marijuana use, and illegal market activity have exploded since marijuana legalization.

According to the report,

  • since recreational marijuana was legalised, traffic deaths in which drivers tested positive for marijuana increased 109% while all Colorado traffic deaths increased 31%
  • the yearly number of emergency department visits related to marijuana increased 54%, and a 101% increase in hospitalisations
  • the percent of suicide incidents in which toxicology results were positive for marijuana has increased from 14% in 2013 to 23% in 2017
  • the black market continues to be in full swing
  • overall, past-month marijuana use for ages 12 and older increased 58% and is 78% higher than the national average
  • adult use has increased 94% (96% higher than the national average)
  • college age marijuana use increased 18% and is 48% higher than the national average
  • youth marijuana use decreased 14% but is still 40% higher than the national average. First time use in Colorado ranks highest in the USA for 12-17 and 18-25 age groups. There is also a concerning increase in the use of high-THC dabbing and edibles amongst young teenagers
  • two out of three local jurisdictions in Colorado have banned medical and recreational marijuana businesses to protect families

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) report is updated each year and has utilised data from the Colorado Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, Colorado Department of Education, Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, Colorado Violent Death Reporting System, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

“We were sucked in by Big Tobacco. Let’s not be sucked in again. NZ’ers should vote no to legalising cannabis.”

Vaping Epidemic Is Big Dream For Big Marijuana

Media Release 19 September 2019
Family First NZ says that the health concerns and costs around vaping will be far greater if cannabis is legalised.

“In the US states where cannabis is legal, students say vaping is everywhere and it’s easy to hide. This is a ‘perfect storm’ for public health harm, but a dream for Big Marijuana because vaping marijuana is a core product for making money and getting consumers hooked – especially young people,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

According to reports in the US, students can vape right under a teacher’s nose and go undetected. There is no tell-tale odor, and the devices used are small enough that a student can indulge in class – through a USB drive or pen or highlighter. Even the tassels of a hooded jacket.

Compounding the trouble is the potency the devices can deliver, giving a student a much more intense high than expected. Often adults don’t realise a student has indulged until the teen confesses. One vaping cartridge VanNatter confiscated contained 83.6% THC.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed some 20,000 students in grades 6-12 about their marijuana use in e-cigarettes. They found that nearly 1 in 11, or 2.1 million middle and high school students used marijuana in e-cigarette devices. In legal states people can buy cartridges of high-potency cannabis oil that fit into many e-cigarette devices. The popular Juul does not make marijuana pods, but users can refill Juul’s nicotine cartridges with cannabis oil.

A US study last year found that teens who used e-cigarettes and hookah were up to four times more likely to use marijuana later, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

According to the University of Michigan Monitoring the Future survey of American youth, between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of 8th and 10th graders (13-16 y/o) who report “vaping” marijuana has increased 63%. Over the same timeframe, the percent of 12th graders (17-18 y/o) who report vaping marijuana has increased by 53%.

Young people who vape are more likely to use marijuana, according to a study published last month.  The review found that the odds of marijuana use were 3.5 times higher in people who vaped compared to those who didn’t. The research, published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, analysed more than 20 pre-existing studies of people ages 10 to 24.

The vaping industry can already see the dollars. OpenVape CEO Ralph Morgan said that cannabis concentrates will be more popular than smoking marijuana buds in the next couple years. In 2016, he predicted, “I see concentrates becoming a part of folk’s daily regimen.”

“New Zealand should say no to legalising cannabis – otherwise the vaping epidemic will become a major social problem with significant health costs.”

Existing cannabis law criminalises too many people – says criminal lawyer!

Stuff 16 September 2019
Family First Comment: On this basis, we should probably legalise speeding, burglary, and Meth as well.
“You still need the coercion of the law to basically give a societal stamp of disapproval.” – Family First

The president of New Zealand’s criminal lawyers’ society supports legalising cannabis for personal use and says existing law criminalises too many people.

Len Andersen, Criminal Bar Association president, said banning cannabis created demand for more harmful drugs, including synthetic cannabinoids​ which have been implicated in at least 70 deaths.

He said prohibition put otherwise law-abiding people who chose to smoke cannabis “in the position of constant illegality.”

The association said its membership comprised 700 practicing criminal lawyers across New Zealand.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, currently running an anti-legalisation campaign, said cannabis’ illegal status kept its use relatively low compared to tobacco and alcohol consumption.

He said Family First supported “a level of discretion for police” in possession cases and believed health agencies could help drug addicts.

​McCoskrie said that police discretion and incremental increases in available penalties meant low-level cannabis possession was effectively decriminalised anyway.

He said Family First polling showed many of its members supported liberalising medicinal cannabis use, but that was distinct from legalisation for recreational use.

McCoskrie said even if most voters chose legalisation at the next election, he would keep campaigning for prohibition.

“You still need the coercion of the law to basically give a societal stamp of disapproval.”

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Fatal Awhitu crash driver was on meth, injured in almost identical incident weeks earlier

NZ Herald 18 September 2019
Family First Comment:”The dangers of driving after using cannabis are due to taking longer to respond to events, reduced ability to think clearly and to pay attention, and loss of coordination.” – Forensic toxicologist Dr Diana Kappatos

The driver who died in a crash and almost killed a pregnant woman and her toddler was under the influence of methamphetamine – and had caused a near identical crash at almost the same location while on drugs six weeks earlier.

Madeleine Nadine Higginson, 27, died instantly in a crash on Awhitu Rd on February 1 2017.

She had been to Waiuku that morning to pick up caramel slice and other treats for her new girlfriend, and was on her way home when she collided with another car.

The other driver – Desire Purnell who was pregnant – was badly injured and had to be cut from the vehicle.

Purnell’s1-year-old son was asleep in his car seat, and not injured.

Higginson was one of 88 people who died in 2017 in crashes where drugs were involved.

The same year 74 people were killed in drink driving crashes.

And in 2018 71 people were killed in drug crashes compared to 109 deaths in alcohol crashes.
READ MORE: (behind paywall)

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Survey Shows Many Teenagers Use Highly Potent Marijuana Concentrates

Addiction Center 15 September 2019
Family First Comment:Disturbing..
“Marijuana concentrates contain as much as 70% more THC than plant-based marijuana. Therefore, its effects on the mind and body are more powerful. For this reason, health experts worry that children and teenagers who use marijuana concentrates are in greater danger of developing THC addiction and suffering marijuana-related brain damage… Among the 33% of students who had tried marijuana, 72% of them had tried a marijuana concentrate.”  

Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in the United States, especially among teenagers. In fact, the 2018 Monitoring the Future survey indicated that 3.4% of American 10th graders and 5.8% of American 12th graders use marijuana everyday. From 2015 to 2018, by the time high-school students across the country reached 12th grade, about 43% of them had used marijuana at least once in their lives. While we know that many teenagers use marijuana, there hasn’t been much research on how many teenagers use marijuana concentrates, so a team of researchers from Arizona designed a survey to find out. The researchers published the results of their study on August 26 in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics.

What Are Marijuana Concentrates?

A marijuana concentrate is a product which has higher quantities of THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, than regular marijuana. The process of concentrating THC is somewhat similar to distilling alcohol, or separating alcohol from the water and other components of a fermented substance to create drinks with more alcohol by volume. Marijuana concentrates consist of THC without the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. Usually, they take the form of oils, waxes, capsules, and substances which resemble butter or glass. The practice of “dabbing” is one of the most common ways by which teenagers use marijuana concentrates. “Dabbing” involves vaporizing THC oils with battery-powered cartridges and inhaling the vapor.

Marijuana concentrates contain as much as 70% more THC than plant-based marijuana. Therefore, its effects on the mind and body are more powerful. For this reason, health experts worry that children and teenagers who use marijuana concentrates are in greater danger of developing THC addiction and suffering marijuana-related brain damage. As Dr. Harshal Kirane explains, “high-potency cannabis is associated with concerning medical and psychiatric consequences, particularly in early brain development.” Unfortunately for parents, marijuana concentrates are more difficult to notice because they do not look like marijuana, so parents may not be aware that their children are using drugs. Additionally, marijuana concentrates are generally becoming more popular and accessible. This is especially true in states where there are legal markets for recreational marijuana.

What Are the Results of the Study?

To determine how popular marijuana concentrates have become among teenagers, the researchers surveyed a large group of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from 245 Arizona schools. The researchers asked them whether they used marijuana and then asked additional questions about their marijuana habits. The survey results indicate that 33% of the students had used marijuana in some form at least once in their lives, while 24% of the students had used a marijuana concentrate. Among the 33% of students who had tried marijuana, 72% of them had tried a marijuana concentrate. Therefore, “most adolescent cannabis users have used concentrates,” according to the researchers.

On the basis of additional survey questions, the researchers also determined that “adolescent concentrate users were more likely to use other substances and to experience more risk factors, and fewer protective factors, for substance use problems across numerous life domains.” Since the study was confined to one state, it is possible that similar research will take place in other states in the future to determine whether this is a nationwide problem.


Vaping is ‘a real danger’ and needs regulation

Radio NZ News 14 September 2019
Family First Comment: And the truth is starting to finally come out – and remember that Big Marijuana loves vaping….
“Although research funded by electronic cigarette manufacturers and the tobacco industry had found no harmful effects, independent studies had consistently found harmful health effects, he said…  While some agencies had said e-cigarettes were 95 percent safer than normal cigarettes, Prof McKee said this figure had “no credibility whatsoever”. The World Health Organisation had “extreme concerns” about e-cigarettes, as did many other health organisations around the world.”

E-cigarette flavours “are particularly hazardous” so limiting their sale in New Zealand is an important step, a European public health expert says.

Professor Martin McKee’s comments on RNZ’s Saturday Morning come after six deaths in the United States were linked with respiratory and lung conditions caused by vaping. The US government is planning to ban the sale of flavoured electronic cigarettes.

The New Zealand government is considering banning all flavours of vaping liquids except tobacco, menthol and mint to reduce the appeal of e-cigarettes to young people.

“If New Zealand is going to limit the flavourings that would be an important step,” Prof McKee said.

“The flavourings are particularly hazardous.

“Other people have used the word ‘reckless’ to describe the promotion of these products until we have a much better understanding of their safety profile.”

Prof McKee said using electronic cigarettes caused disruption of the lining of arteries and this could be associated with increased risks of heart disease, blood clots and strokes.

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Drug Foundation Uses ‘Deeply Flawed’ Study To Argue Legalisation Case

On Friday, Radio NZ reported that the Drug Foundation say they are committed to keeping the public informed, fear mongering to a minimum and misinformation out of the news, ahead of the cannabis referendum.

The head of the Drug Foundation said

“I think the public can make up their mind, they can see through the misinformation, the hysteria [and] fear mongering that has been put out there at the moment, we can address that,”

So in their model for regulation released on Friday, this image was front and center.

Pretty impressive.

This one study – published in JAMA Pediatrics – purports to show the legalisation of marijuana leads to a reduction in teen use of the substance.

Here’s the problem. This study, funded in part by the pro-drug legalisation Charles Koch Foundation, is flawed for several reasons:

  • It is based on the CDC YRBS, which completely omits Oregon and Washington – two large legal states – in 2017
  • It also excludes young people who are not in school, such as dropouts
  • According to the most comprehensive survey on drug use, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health — which includes all young people in households, not just those who gave permission to take a school survey — youth use of the drug is on the rise in legal states while declining in states that have not legalized the substance
  • The study was partially funded by the Charles Koch Foundation, which is partially dedicated to legalizing marijuana (like Koch Industries)

“To put it simply, this study is awash with problems,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “The data here runs counter to what we see from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: youth use is on the rise in ‘legal’ states while declining elsewhere. If you truly think that the legalisation, commercialisation, and normalisation of marijuana has led to less young people using it, I have a bridge to sell you.

According to NSDUH data, the percentage of youth aged 12-17 using marijuana is declining faster in states where marijuana is not “legal,” and overall use is high in legal states while declining in non-legal states. Further, the percentage of youth in this age range using the drug in “legal” states was 7.7% versus 6.2% in non-legal states.

Ironically, in 2014, this same publication – JAMA – published an article purporting that states that have legalized marijuana saw a reduction in opioid overdoses over states that did not. In the years since, this study has been among the key talking points of the marijuana industry and its supporters. Then just last month, a study using the same methods and published in the same journal showed the completely opposite result. When it comes to drug policy, we simply cannot put all of our eggs in one basket.”

Also to note, the same researchers authoring this study have also previously claimed marijuana legalization reduces traffic fatalities (although the overwhelming majority of state data shows otherwise) and reduces suicide (although numerous studies show use of high potency marijuana is linked with suicide ideation).

And just to confirm how questionable this study was as stand-alone proof, even the CNN coverage of the report noted concerns:

The paper had some limitations, including that only an association was found in the study — not a causal relationship — and more research is needed to determine why this association exists. “Because many recreational marijuana laws have been passed so recently, we do observe limited post-treatment data for some of these states,” Anderson said…

The CNN report then went on to show how inconsistent it was with other research

For instance, a 2018 report from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Office of Research and Statistics found that the proportion of high school students in the state who said they used marijuana ever in their lifetime or in the past 30 days remained statistically unchanged from 2005 to 2017.

Meanwhile on the national front, the overall prevalence of marijuana-only use among youth in the United States since the early 1990s increased from 0.6% in 1991 to 6.3% in 2017, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health on Wednesday.

If this is the Drug Foundation’s definition of being “committed to keeping the public informed, fear mongering to a minimum and misinformation out of the news“, then perhaps the first place to start might be in their own policy analysis and presentation.

They may even be interested in purchasing that bridge.

COMING NEXT: The (multiple) problems with their ‘model for regulation’.