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Bob McCoskrie

Family First brings US author to NZ to talk about dangers of cannabis ahead of legalisation referendum

TVNZ One News 17 February 2020
On September 19th you’ll be voting on who you want to govern the country, as well as a referendum on whether to legalise cannabis.

Central to that debate is whether you think cannabis is safe or unsafe.

One person who says it’s unsafe and dangerous is US author and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson.

He’s written a book linking cannabis use to psychosis and violence. Some scientists actively dispute his conclusions, though.

He’s been brought to New Zealand by Family First and told Seven Sharp why he thinks cannabis is linked to bouts of psychosis and violence.

“That’s what the strongest medical evidence shows, there is no question it can cause temporary episodes of psychosis in many users.

“The issue as to whether it can cause permanent psychosis or schizophrenia there is more debate around, but many psychiatrists have come around to this view,” Mr Berenson stated.

Mr Berenson didn’t used to believe that cannabis was dangerous, but he says today’s strains are more potent and synthetic products are also using levels of THC that would be “hard to imagine in the ’90s even to have used.”

However, professor Joseph Boden – who is part of the Prime Minister’s expert panel on cannabis – doesn’t agree with Mr Berenson’s views.

“It’s just scaremongering,” he says.

“He takes data out of context, so he shows there was an increase in the murder and violence levels in Washington state, after cannabis was legalised.

“But more sophisticated analysis shows that in fact the rate was lower than it would have been had cannabis not been legalised,” Mr Boden says.

It comes as New Zealanders are more likely to vote against legalisation of cannabis in the upcoming referendum, according to the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll.

Those polled were asked, ‘At this stage, do you think you will vote for cannabis to be legalised, or for cannabis to remain illegal?’

Remain illegal – 51%
Legalise cannabis – 39%
Will not vote – 1%
Don’t know / refused – 9%

The groups of people who were more likely than average to intend to vote against legalising cannabis were Asian New Zealanders, National Party supports and people aged 55 and over.

Those who were more likely to intend to vote for legalisation were Green Party supporters, women aged 18 to 34, Māori, people with annual household incomes between $30,001 to $70,000 and Labour Party supporters.

Green Party’s Chlöe Swarbrick said the poll results indicated that “we really have a job to do in getting out there and talking to people”.
https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/family-first-brings-us-author-nz-talk-dangers-cannabis-ahead-legalisation-referendum

Cannabis referendum: Anti-marijuana book author’s warning to New Zealand
NewsHub 17 February 2020
A former New York Times journalist has warned New Zealand against legalising recreational cannabis, saying its risks have been “substantially understated”.

Alex Berenson is the author of a controversial new book Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, Violence. He is in New Zealand as a guest of Family First.

Berenson spoke to Magic Talk’s Peter Williams on Monday to explain why he believes recreational cannabis shouldn’t be legalised.

“The harms of cannabis are quite a bit larger than are generally realised.”
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/02/cannabis-referendum-anti-marijuana-book-author-s-warning-to-new-zealand.html

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Mike Hosking: Polls show the public knows better than Government on cannabis

NZ Herald 17 February 2020
Family First Comment: Once again, well said Mike!
“Poverty, deprivation, crime, emergency housing, feeding kids with no lunch, mental health, and every one of those social issues can be directly linked to drug issues of some sort. Mental health especially is riddled with drug abuse. They can’t be the government who wants to heal the ill, and yet pedal dope in a decriminalised environment. We have all worked that out, of course, and that’s why the poll is the way the poll is.”

And then the cannabis, this is the one that has a real battle going on. People like me, and as it turns out the majority of the country who don’t want to legalise it, against taxpayer funded, concerted, ideologically driven obsession that somehow making drugs more available is good news.

There are a couple of clear reasons why the gap is 12 points – 51 per cent voting for it to remain illegal, compared to 39 per cent for it to be legalised.

And that is because, apart from the basic fact that most of us have seen a bit of life, have kids, worry about them, and know full well we already have an abysmal drug issue in this country, so there can’t be any good reason to exacerbate it, but the government has blown their messaging.

Firstly, they’ve left it to Chloe Swarbrick. That’s a fatal mistake, she appeals to those who already vote yes. She’s not a voice of reason, experience, or any sort of gravitas.

Where are the heavyweights? Where is Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, Winston Peters, or James Shaw? You know where they are? Hiding, they are only involved in this because of a pathetic coalition sop to the Greens.

It is yet another weakness of MMP. We will spend millions on this farce when it never should have seen the light of day.

But perhaps more importantly than that, the reason the government can’t sell this is because they’ve spent the last two years, and literally billions, on the myriad of social issues they’ve identified as being their calling card.

Poverty, deprivation, crime, emergency housing, feeding kids with no lunch, mental health, and every one of those social issues can be directly linked to drug issues of some sort. Mental health especially is riddled with drug abuse. They can’t be the government who wants to heal the ill, and yet pedal dope in a decriminalised environment.

We have all worked that out, of course, and that’s why the poll is the way the poll is.

Whether poor old Swarbrick gets that or not, who knows? But consistency in messaging is critical; you have to be authentic and they’re not.

Fortunately, we are saving ourselves from ourselves, because tragically those charged with the job in Parliament are failing abysmally.
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?objectid=12309214&ref=twitter

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New Zealanders likely to vote against cannabis legalisation – 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll

TVNZ One News 14 February 2020
Family First Comment: Paula Bennett said the result showed that “people are realising that actually legalising recreational cannabis can’t be good for our mental health as a nation”.
Exactly.
#saynopetodope
#VoteNO

New Zealanders are more likely to vote against legalisation of cannabis in the upcoming referendum, according to the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll.

Those polled were asked, ‘At this stage, do you think you will vote for cannabis to be legalised, or for cannabis to remain illegal?’

Remain illegal – 51%
Legalise cannabis – 39%
Will not vote – 1%
Don’t know / refused – 9%

The groups of people who were more likely than average to intend to vote against legalising cannabis were Asian New Zealanders, National Party supports and people aged 55 and over.

Those who were more likely to intend to vote for legalisation were Green Party supporters, women aged 18 to 34, Māori, people with annual household incomes between $30,001 to $70,000 and Labour Party supporters.

Green Party’s Chlöe Swarbrick said the poll results indicated that “we really have a job to do in getting out there and talking to people”.

“This substance is underground, we have no idea who’s using it… We have essentially chaos.”

National’s Paula Bennett said the result showed that “people are realising that actually legalising recreational cannabis can’t be good for our mental health as a nation”.
READ MORE: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/new-zealanders-likely-vote-against-cannabis-legalisation-1-news-colmar-brunton-poll
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White House Releases 2020 National Drug Control Strategy

Office of National Drug Control Policy (USA) 3 February 2020
Family First Comment3 superb goals:
* preventing initiates to drug use,
* providing treatment services leading to long-term recovery for those suffering from addiction,
* aggressively reducing availability of illicit drugs in communities
Contrast that with the liberalisation and ‘soft’ approach to drugs by our government

Today, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll released the Trump Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy, which establishes the President’s priorities for addressing the challenge of drug trafficking and use.

“The 2020 National Drug Control Strategy maintains focus on President Trump’s overarching goal from day one – reducing the number of Americans dying from drug overdoses. While the Trump Administration has made significant progress in preventing substance misuse before it starts, getting more people into treatment and long-term recovery, and curbing the flow of deadly drugs into our communities, now is not the time to rest on this success,” ONDCP Director Jim Carroll said.

“Rather, we must build on our momentum and accelerate our efforts to strengthen communities and families across America. Through our continued whole-of-government approach, this Strategy lays the groundwork to continue reversing the pattern of addiction in our country.”

Accompanying the National Drug Control Strategy is the release of the Performance Reporting System, the Data Supplement, and the first ever National Treatment Plan for Substance Use Disorder.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/white-house-releases-2020-national-drug-control-strategy/

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If we want to save the environment, don’t legalise cannabis

The electricity consumed by growing pot in Ontario is forecast to grow by 1,000 per cent over five years
The Star 24 November 2019
Family First Comment: “the energy munched by the fledgling cannabis-growing business is expected to rise by 1,250 per cent in Ontario over the next five years..”
And of course, all the other factors harmful to the environment – energy, water, pesticides, harm to the landscape
Read more: saynopetodope.org.nz/not-so-green/

The pot industry will not be a mellow new player on the province’s power grid.

Indeed, the energy munched by the fledgling cannabis-growing business is expected to rise by 1,250 per cent in Ontario over the next five years, according to a recent study by the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator.

“We’re seeing absolutely a significant increase in electricity demand because of the greenhouse growth in Ontario,” says Terry Young, vice-president of policy, engagement and innovation at the IESO.

“If you forecast out five years, what we’re seeing is over a thousand per cent growth in electricity to a sector,” says Young, whose Crown corporation released a study on electrical use by cannabis growers in October.

At a projected 1.258 terawatt-hour (TWh) consumption by 2024, pot producers will suck up far more energy than the 0.8 TWh the province’s auto sector used in 2018.

Last year, cannabis production in Ontario — which has the country’s largest capacity — consumed just 0.09 TWh. (Recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018.)

But in the Leamington area alone,  Young says cannabis and other greenhouse production will increase overall electricity demand by 200 per cent by 2026 — a surge that would require a new transmission line be built.

Total electricity usage in the province is 140 TWh a year, with the mining industry, at 5.06 TWh usage, being by far the largest consumer.
READ MORE: https://www.thestar.com/business/2019/11/24/ontario-cannabis-industrys-electricity-use-forecast-to-grow-by-1000-per-cent-over-five-years.html

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Overdose deaths increase by almost 30%

The Portugal News 20 December 2019
Family First Comment: Helen Clark and the Drug Foundation trumpet Portugal’s superb drug laws. Here’s what they don’t tell you…
“Deaths from overdose in Portugal increased by almost 30% in 2018 and reached their highest figure in the last five years, with most cases involving more than one substance”

Deaths from overdose in Portugal increased by almost 30 percent in 2018 and reached their highest figure in the last five years, with most cases involving more than one substance, according to the SICAD reports.

Data from the Intervention Service in Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD) presented in parliament showed that, in the records of the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, of the 307 deaths with the presence of illicit substances and information on the cause of death, 49 were considered overdose.

The SICAD reports highlighted in these overdoses the presence of opiates (65 percent), cocaine (51 percent) and methadone (31 percent), highlighting the increase in cases with both opiates and cocaine.

In the vast majority (92 percent) of overdoses, more than one substance was detected, with alcohol (45 percent) and benzodiazepines (20 percent) standing out in association with illicit drugs.

As for the other causes of deaths with the presence of drugs (258), they were mainly attributed to natural death (42 percent) and accidents (38 percent), followed by suicide (14 percent) and homicide (3 percent).

SICAD said that several indicators point to a greater circulation of drugs in the Portuguese market at a time of great challenges, such as the growing use of the Internet to market various psychoactive substances and the recent changes in the country’s role in international trafficking routes.

As for routes, Portugal has been a transit country in the context of international hashish and cocaine trafficking, inflows from Morocco and Latin America and the Caribbean, respectively, to other countries, especially European ones.

In the executive summary of the reports on the country’s situation regarding drugs, drug addiction and alcohol, the National Coordinator for the Problems of Drugs, Drug Addiction and the Harmful Use of Alcohol, João Goulão, said that the trends highlight the need for rapid responses and to prioritise interventions with an effective impact on the health gains of these populations.
https://www.theportugalnews.com/news/overdose-deaths-increase-by-almost-30/52412

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New Study: Marijuana Impaired Traffic Deaths Doubled in Washington State Following Legalization

Media Release SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) 30 January 2020
Family First Comment: No surprises eh
“Washington drivers involved in fatal car crashes who tested positive for marijuana increased from 9 percent in the five-year period prior to legalization to around 18 percent in the five-year period after legalization.”
#saynopetodope
VoteNO.nz

Today, a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found the percentage of drivers in Washington State involved in fatal car crashes testing positive for marijuana has doubled since the state “legalized” marijuana for recreational use in 2012.

“Marijuana-impaired driving is rising across all states that have ‘legalized’ marijuana and this study is further confirmation of an alarming trend,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “The marijuana industry, heavily invested in by Big Tobacco, has used irresponsible rhetoric, pushing the narrative that marijuana use is safe, which has led to more people using the drug and getting behind the wheel of a car.”

According to the study, Washington drivers involved in fatal car crashes who tested positive for marijuana increased from 9 percent in the five-year period prior to legalization to around 18 percent in the five-year period after legalization. What’s more, the study found that about one in five drivers involved in fatal car crashes in 2017 tested positive for marijuana. 

According to a 2018 report out of Colorado, marijuana-related traffic deaths involving increased 151% following legalization and more than one in five traffic deaths in the state were marijuana-related, mirroring the results of this AAA study of Washington drivers.

“Last year, more than a dozen states rejected legalization, largely due to concerns over drugged driving,” continued Dr. Sabet. “It’s time for lawmakers nationwide to take a deep breath and seriously consider the implications of the further expansion of the commercial marijuana industry.”

Health experts fear more stoned drivers are taking the wheel following pot legalization
USA Today 30 January 2020
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/01/30/marijuana-legalization-may-increasing-number-stoned-drivers/4603105002/
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Cannabis Briefing – with former NY Times reporter Alex Berenson

If you are a youthworker, church leader, educator, counsellor, or community leader, we want to invite you – and your colleagues – to a special Briefing in February on the upcoming cannabis referendum, and the dangers of legalisation. The presentations and the resources which will be available will help you prepare for the upcoming referendum and the associated discussions which will occur in your organisation, amongst families you work with directly, and in the wider community.

As well as updates from our National Director Bob McCoskrie and our Pasifika Director (and ex-Police) Nick Tuitasi QSM, our special guest is ALEX BERENSON.

Alex Berenson is a former New York Times reporter and award-winning novelist. He attended Yale University and joined the Times in 1999, where he covered everything from the drug industry to Hurricane Katerina and served as a correspondent in Iraq.

Alex is the author of “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence”, released in January 2019.

The book (which will be available for purchase at the Briefings) reveals the link between teenage marijuana use and mental illness, and a hidden epidemic of violence caused by the drug – facts the media have ignored as the United States (and possibly New Zealand) rushes to legalise cannabis. But legalisation has been built on myths – including that marijuana arrests fill prisons; that most doctors want to use cannabis as medicine; and that it is not just harmless but beneficial for mental health. In this meticulously reported book, Alex Berenson explodes those myths. Most of all, THC – the chemical in marijuana responsible for the drug’s high – can cause psychotic episodes. After decades of studies, scientists no longer seriously debate if marijuana causes psychosis. Psychosis brings violence, and cannabis-linked violence is spreading.

Big Marijuana has high hopes for New Zealand, but liberalising cannabis laws is the wrong path to go down if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people. This is not a war on drugs – it’s a defence of our brains. Drug use is a major health issue, and that’s why the role of the law is so important.

We hope you (and any interested colleagues) can attend this important Briefing. Attendance is by registration. See the details below.

There is a suggested koha of $20 to help cover some of our expenses.


VENUES
(attendance by registration only)

AUCKLAND
Monday 17th February 2019, 12 – 2pm (includes light lunch)
LIFE Church, 25 Normanby Rd, Mt Eden

WELLINGTON
Tuesday 18th February 2019, 12 – 2pm (includes light lunch)
Celebration Church, 246 Thorndon Quay, Pipitea, Wellington 

TAURANGA
Wednesday 19th February 2019, 12pm – 2pm (includes light lunch)
Lifezone Church, 7 Oak Lane, Judea, Tauranga

HAMILTON
Wednesday 19th February 2019, 7pm – 9pm (includes light supper)
Te Whanau Putahi (TWP), 37 Oxford St, Fairfield, Hamilton.

CHRISTCHURCH
Thursday 20th February 2019, 10.30am –12.30pm (includes morning tea)
Beckenham Baptist Church, 146 Colombo StreetChristchurch (Parking entrance off Percival Street).

DUNEDIN
Thursday 20th February 2019, 7pm – 9pm (includes light supper)
Caversham Baptist Church, Corner South Road & Surrey Street, Caversham, Dunedin

TO REGISTER:
(Attendance by Registration only)
To register, simply email denise@familyfirst.org.nz with your
Name:
Organisation:
Email:
Phone contact:
Which meeting venue you are wanting to attend:

Registrations close on FRIDAY 14 FEBRUARY (for catering purposes)

FOR MORE INFO AND TO REGISTER:
tel: 09 261 2426
email: admin@familyfirst.org.nz

States need to wake up to public health risks from cannabis

Stat News 21 January 2020
Family First CommentWho you gonna believe? Politicians like Andrew Little and Chloe Swarbrick, and the Drug (Friendly) Foundation – or this Expert? (one of many actually sounding the same warning)….

“I have seen the impact of unrestrained cannabis marketing firsthand in my work as president of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy, a health economist at the University of Southern California, and former co-director of the RAND Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center. The evidence for public health risks is clear, including increases in impaired driving, increases in adverse effects among pregnant and/or nursing women who use cannabis, increases in acute psychosis and emergency department visits, increases in cannabis use disorder and dependence, and increases in vaping-related lung injuries. The notion that cannabis is not harmful — which is strongly promoted by the expanding cannabis industry — has taken particular root among the young, who are vaping nicotine and cannabis in record numbers. Even though use of cannabis among non-adults is illegal, a new study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 21% of 12th graders had vaped cannabis in the past year, as had 19% of 10th graders and 7% of 8th graders.”

I have seen the impact of unrestrained cannabis marketing firsthand in my work as president of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy, a health economist at the University of Southern California, and former co-director of the RAND Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center. The evidence for public health risks is clear, including increases in impaired driving, increases in adverse effects among pregnant and/or nursing women who use cannabis, increases in acute psychosis and emergency department visits, increases in cannabis use disorder and dependence, and increases in vaping-related lung injuries.

The notion that cannabis is not harmful — which is strongly promoted by the expanding cannabis industry — has taken particular root among the young, who are vaping nicotine and cannabis in record numbers. Even though use of cannabis among non-adults is illegal, a new study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 21% of 12th graders had vaped cannabis in the past year, as had 19% of 10th graders and 7% of 8th graders.

States can step up their regulatory game in a number of ways. For starters, here are three trends that deserve high-priority attention.

Frequent users
In every year from 2000 to 2016, daily and near-daily users of cannabis represented at least 75% of all use, as measured in days of use. So as cannabis use in general is rising, cannabis use days among frequent users is also climbing, up from 1.4 billion days of use in 2000 to more than 3.5 billion days of use in 2016.

In the world of commerce, frequent customers sustain for-profit businesses. That is certainly true for cannabis, where sellers have clear incentives to develop more daily and near-daily users. To counter that trend, state legislatures that are contemplating legalization should consider alternative market models, including sole-source or government monopolies, nonprofits, social clubs, or public benefit corporations. These models reduce competition — which in turn reduces marketing and promotion — raise prices and, for some models, force companies to consider the community impacts of selling their product while making a safe product available to consumers.

While noncompetitive markets generally aren’t liked, the public health community has argued in the case of tobacco and alcohol that they may be more desirable due to potential public health risks. And it is always easier to move from a noncompetitive market to a competitive market should the public health risks not be realized.

Hospitalizations and emergency department visits
Cannabis-related emergency department visits have increased substantially, especially in states with more liberal policies. In Colorado, hospitalizations among cannabis users doubled after legalization of medical marijuana, and emergency visits doubled after legalization of recreational marijuana, notably for pediatric ingestion, acute intoxication, uncontrolled vomiting, acute psychosis, and burns from butane hash oil.

Most state regulatory agencies haven’t paid enough attention to the development of cannabis products that can be mistaken for non-cannabis merchandise or that target younger users. Edibles and extracts — cannabis oils, vape cartridges, and concentrates — are surging in recreational markets and deliver substantially more concentrated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (60% to 80% THC) than dried flowers (20% to 30% THC).

States should devote more regulatory resources to checking cannabis products being sold in stores, ensuring honest product labeling, developing regulatory processes for the development of new products before they go to market, ensuring proper and honest testing by independent labs, and restricting high potency waxes, oils, and the like from the market.

Pregnancy and nursing
Cannabis components easily cross the placenta and the blood-brain barrier. Newborns can also receive them through breast milk. Physicians agree that women who are pregnant or who are nursing infants should avoid using cannabis, but the trend line is going in the wrong direction. Increasing numbers of pregnant women report using cannabis to self-treat nausea, anxiety, depression and vomiting.

One study found that more than two-thirds of cannabis stores called at random in Colorado recommended cannabis products for easing morning sickness. Dispensaries should not be the place where people get their information on the potential benefits or harms of cannabis.

To help protect pregnant women, their babies, and everyone else who uses cannabis, all states should do these three things:

  • Train board-certified pharmacists who are knowledgeable about cannabis products and require that they be on staff at dispensaries, as is the model now in Minnesota, Connecticut, and New York.
  • Require health departments to proactively engage in community education of physicians, parents, and patients about the known health benefits and risks of cannabis, providing a strong counter to the false information being provided by some cannabis dispensaries.
  • Impose significant financial penalties on producers and/or retailers — as well as their employees — who communicate inaccurate health information to consumers.
    READ MORE: https://www.statnews.com/2020/01/21/states-public-health-risks-cannabis/

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