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Bob McCoskrie

Proposal to favour Maori in cannabis reform is ‘crazy talk’ – Māori council executive director

NewsHub 21 November 2019
Family First Comment: “This is an organisation which receives a huge amount of money from the Government and I think they should be focused on health promotion and prevention of things like pot smoking, tobacco and vaping” – Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki.
Tell that to the Drug Foundation 🙂

The request for cannabis legislation to favour Māori is “crazy talk” according to Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki.

Public health organisation Hāpai Te Hauora asked the Crown to favour Māori with cannabis production if New Zealand votes yes in the referendum.

It said in a statement on Wednesday that cannabis legislation must be designed “with and by Maori”.

Tukaki says the proposal is ridiculous.

“This is an organisation which receives a huge amount of money from the Government and I think they should be focused on health promotion and prevention of things like pot smoking, tobacco and vaping,” he told The AM Show on Thursday.

“This is not a debate they should be getting involved in.”

Tukaki says the proposal “devalues” the work being done around childcare and suicide.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/11/proposal-to-favour-maori-in-cannabis-reform-is-crazy-talk-m-ori-council-executive-director.html
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Mental illness, psychotic symptoms, suicidal thoughts – Jo’s story

Colorado mum Jo worked in youth drug prevention, educating young people about the risk behaviours. During this time, her ‘high achieving, compliant’ teenage son tried to commit suicide. His older brother saved his life. At the emergency room, the social worker took Jo aside and said “we need to talk about Jordan’s marijuana use.” This came as a complete shock to the family who were totally unaware of his drug abuse.

Jo has a warning for New Zealand parents based on her own harrowing experience of marijuana legalisation in her home state.

Legal marijuana made big promises on racial equity — and fell short

NBC News 3 December 2018
Family First Comment: In Colorado, the Drug Policy Alliance found, the number of black juveniles arrested on marijuana charges grew after legalization. In 2016, a Colorado Department of Public Safety analysis found that black people living in that state remained three times more likely than white people to be arrested for selling or possessing marijuana. In Washington state, an ACLU analysis found that in 2014, the first year in which marijuana became available in legal retail stores, a black adult remained three times more likely to face low-level marijuana charges than a white adult. 

In Colorado, the Drug Policy Alliance found, the number of black juveniles arrested on marijuana charges grew after legalization. In 2016, a Colorado Department of Public Safety analysis found that black people living in that state remained three times more likely than white people to be arrested for selling or possessing marijuana. In Washington state, an ACLU analysis found that in 2014, the first year in which marijuana became available in legal retail stores, a black adult remained three times more likely to face low-level marijuana charges than a white adult.

The truth behind those figures is complex, as state legal systems have not fully caught up to the new reality of legalized recreational pot. “Law enforcement officials and prosecuting attorneys continue to struggle with enforcement of the complex and sometimes conflicting marijuana laws that remain,” according to the 2016 Colorado Department of Public safety report. Some of the arrests involve people buying or selling small quantities on the black market, often to avoid new taxes. Public consumption is illegal in many states where recreational, small-scale possession is not. And, many criminal justice reform advocates say that fundamental problems in policing and prosecuting — including arrest goals and individual and institutional bigotry — remain.

States have also faced the question of what should happen to people who have criminal records for low-level marijuana offenses that are no longer crimes post-legalization. In Colorado, Washington and Nevada — a trio of early legalization adopters — state officials refused to take up bills or vetoed measures that would have sealed or expunged criminal records of people convicted of low-level marijuana crimes before legalization.

In 2017, criminal justice and drug policy reform advocates convinced Colorado lawmakers to pass a bill allowing people convicted of misdemeanor possession or marijuana use to have those records sealed if the case would no longer constitute a crime. The records are not expunged. Oregon did something similar in 2015.

In Missouri, which legalized medical marijuana, lawmakers have trimmed the waiting periods for those who want to have their misdemeanor criminal records erased from 10 to three years. In Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont, where minor marijuana convictions can be expunged, people still must initiate and then navigate the process and pay the costs. A drug conviction can make it difficult to impossible to obtain work, student loans and even government-subsidized housing.
READ MORE: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/legal-marijuana-made-big-promises-racial-equity-fell-short-n952376

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‘Molly’ is a nasty little pill, and festival testing won’t make it safe

MercatorNet 20 November 2019
Family First CommentMany highly successful health education campaigns in this country have aimed at changing behaviour. Fewer people now die of smoking. Campaigns like ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ have reduced the incidence of skin cancers in young adults. Education has reduced road injuries and deaths, gun deaths, and the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. This success over the last twenty years is due to strategic public health campaigns. The growing problem of illicit drug use extends beyond music festivals. It may be the first contact many young people have with dealers, but often it is not the last. Given the right advice, our young people are capable of making good decisions. Targeting behaviour through health promotion campaigns, not pill-testing, is the solution to this growing problem.

Summer is around the corner in Australia and with the warmer weather young people will gravitate to music festivals around the country. These gatherings also draw enterprising drug dealers, eager for new customers and cash.

An Australian study found that at a recent major festival, almost 75 percent of patrons interviewed reported using illicit drugs. For this reason these events are coming to be called “drug fests”, which is a shame, considering the musical talent they pull.

Of the 75 percent, almost 60 percent named MDMA as their preferred party drug. Users have nicknamed methylene dioxy methamphetamine “Molly”. Molly, also called Ecstasy, induces feelings of empathy and turns everyone into a brilliant dancer, so she sounds like the perfect friend to take along to a music festival. In reality however, she is a nasty little pill and just a bit psycho. She promises to love you one minute, and tries to kill you the next.

MDMA, you see, damages the heart. Specifically, it affects the left ventricle, which can cause cardiac failure. I regularly nurse cardiac failure patients in Hobart, and most of them are in their 70s and 80s. Many years of living and hard work damage the heart’s contractility and ability to pump blood. Fluid starts to fill the lungs, making breathing difficult. In an acute phase, these patients feel like they’re drowning. They struggle to breathe and need aggressive medical treatment.

‘A safe party drug doesn’t exist’

As every festival season rolls around the subject of pill testing comes up. We debate the pros and cons with very little real data. We now know more about the damage MDMA does to the heart, but it also has a potentially catastrophic effect on mental health.

Molly causes the excessive release of serotonin, “the happy hormone,” in the brain. This is what gives users the mood-elevating effects, but it leaves the brain significantly depleted of serotonin, resulting in negative psychological effects that lasts for days. Basically, it leaves you depressed. We need to look closely at youth suicide rates linked to MDMA use, particularly, in the period after big multi-day music festivals. There is much more research to be done about this.

In bioethics we weigh up beneficence and non-maleficence. We want to benefit people, or at least “do no harm”. Pill testing is a harm reduction strategy, premised on the belief that, “Kids will do drugs anyway, so let’s help them do drugs in a safer way.”

The Drugs and Information Monitoring System (DIMS) in the Netherlands is commonly regarded as the world’s best drug early warning system. It is operated by the Trimbos Institute, whose Dr Daan van der Guow told the ABC last summer that festival drug testing is “not really a bad thing”. But he also pointed out that “a safe drug doesn’t exist”. He went on to say that, like the DIMS-model of drug-checking, the model being proposed in Australia, will not entirely prevent deaths.

Over two years of trials in the UK some 2000 pills have been tested. About eight in ten festival-goers were getting the drug they expected. About one in ten chose to bin their pills.

Andrew Leibie, a scientist at Safework Laboratories, criticises the program, noting that on-site drug testing is technologically limited and cannot detect new designer drugs such as N-Bomb, linked to three deaths in Melbourne. It also does not test for concentration and high doses of Methamphetamine, which can be fatal on its own.

Why not behaviour change?

When smoking was found to cause lung and other cancers, as well as heart disease and stroke, we did not invest heavily in harm-reduction strategies. Smoking was and is a huge burden on our health system and budget. It has taken serious targeted and consistent health promotion strategies to address this. Health departments produce educational material and use media and school-based Health education to inform people that smoking causes disease.

Many highly successful health education campaigns in this country have aimed at changing behaviour. Fewer people now die of smoking. Campaigns like ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ have reduced the incidence of skin cancers in young adults. Education has reduced road injuries and deaths, gun deaths, and the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. This success over the last twenty years is due to strategic public health campaigns.

The growing problem of illicit drug use extends beyond music festivals. It may be the first contact many young people have with dealers, but often it is not the last. Given the right advice, our young people are capable of making good decisions. Targeting behaviour through health promotion campaigns, not pill-testing, is the solution to this growing problem.

We want to protect the lives of our young people and reduce harm. Let’s get to work on a strategic health promotion plan to keep our young people safe and healthy. While I can’t support pill-testing, sitting back is not an option.
READ MORE: https://www.mercatornet.com/features/view/molly-is-a-nasty-little-pill-and-festival-testing-wont-make-it-safe/23076
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Figures reveal one in five Kiwis are hazardous drinkers

NewsHub 15 November 2019
Family First Comment: “The number of 18- 24-year-olds drinking heavily at least once a week has increased by a third, to more than 21%. Overall, more than 80% of adults drank to excess in the past year – up 2%.”
And this is – apparently – a ‘regulated’ market, just like they reckon cannabis legalisation will be. Regulated.
And we have a bridge to sell you.

New figures reveal a significant increase in the amount Kiwis are drinking, and it’s causing concern from experts.

One in five Kiwis are classified as hazardous drinkers, and there are calls for the Government to raise the cost of raising a glass.

“Not only are we making no progress, we’re going backwards,” says Nicki Jackson, of Alcohol Healthwatch.

“More New Zealanders are choosing to drink and I’m mostly concerned about the significant increases we’ve seen in weekly heavy drinking.”

That’s especially true in young people. The number of 18- 24-year-olds drinking heavily at least once a week has increased by a third, to more than 21 percent.

Overall, more than 80 percent of adults drank alcohol in the past year – up 2 percent.

Psychiatrist Emma Schwarcs, an addiction specialist and clinical director of CADS Auckland, says the increase is noticeable.

“A few more young people are coming through in actual fact,” she says. “Not only in terms of volume, but actually their severity is a little higher.”
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/lifestyle/2019/11/figures-reveal-one-in-five-kiwis-are-hazardous-drinkers.html

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Duncan Garner: Legalising weed could cause teen addiction to skyrocket

NewsHub 14  November 2019
Family First Comment: This study is our warning – public health worsens – by how much we don’t know – so given that we don’t know, why even put the question to Kiwis in a referendum? Why are we even contemplating this change? Stick your “OK boomer” phrase Chloe Swarbrick and start to digest the inconvenient truth – your support for a law change is misguided and irresponsible – your position might even steal someone’s childhood. It’s time to accept the facts and step outside your echo chamber of yes men and sycophants.
#saynopetodope

OPINION: It’s official. Legalising weed means more people smoke it, more often and addiction rates go up, starting with kids as young as 12.

Be careful what we wish for folks, this is our future staring at us in the face if we are not careful.

One of the world’s most respected cannabis researchers has compared half a million people by looking at what happens when an American state legalises weed for recreational use compared to states that don’t.

And at every age level in every cohort, every race, creed or LGBT plus any ABCDEFG I’ve left off – where the green herb got the green light – they all got lit alright.

Dependency increased, and of real concern 12-17 year olds had the worst results of all the different age groups surveyed.

There are more addictions and more people smoking it more frequently – especially men in their 20s.

So overall, there are more health issues as a result.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/11/duncan-garner-legalising-weed-could-cause-teen-addiction-to-skyrocket.html

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Fewer low-level drug charges laid, health referrals increase

Radio NZ News 15 November 2019
The month after a law change on low level drug offending the number of people charged over low-level meth offences dropped by almost a third.

The number sent to health services rose, including people caught in possession of methamphetamine or the utensils used to consume the drug.

But those dealing with the health issues related to addiction say they need more resources to deal with increased numbers.

In July, 488 people were charged for low level methamphetamine offences, including possession, consumption and the possession of drug utensils.

The following month, after an alteration to the Misuse of Drugs Act which gave police more discretion when dealing with low level drug crime 170 fewer people were charged over meth offending.

According to the numbers RNZ has obtained under the Official Information Act, about half the number of people were charged with cannabis possession in September as they were six months earlier.

In April, 413 people were charged with an offence, compared to 223 in September. The number dropped each month.

During the same months, the number of people referred to health services doubled.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/403327/fewer-low-level-drug-charges-laid-health-referrals-increase
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New Study: Youth Marijuana Addiction Rates 25% Higher in Legalised States

Media Release – SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) 13 Nov 2019
Family First Comment: “Increased availability leads to increased use, which leads to increased rates of addiction. Legalisation efforts are sending the message that marijuana use is safe and state sanctioned. No amount of marijuana use is safe for young people and more must be done to halt its normalisation.”’
#saynopetodope

Today, a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that rates of marijuana addiction among teens (12-17) in states that have “legalized” marijuana were 25 percent higher than in states that have not legalized the substance. Among adults (26 or older), past-month use rates were 26 percent higher. What’s more, past-month frequent use and past-year problematic use among this age group increased by 23 percent and 37 percent respectively.

“Legalization has allowed Big Tobacco and Big Marijuana to relentlessly market and normalize highly potent marijuana. While much of the data on marijuana is still out, we do know that increased availability leads to increased use, which leads to increased rates of addiction,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “Legalization efforts are sending the message that marijuana use is safe and state sanctioned. No amount of marijuana use is safe for young people and more must be done to halt its normalization.”

While some states move to liberalize marijuana policies, much of the knowledge we have on marijuana and its use is sorely lacking. That said, the data we do have — drawn from studies on marijuana with THC levels considerably lower than available in “legalized” markets — is concerning.

Use of the drug is addictive, can dramatically harm the developing brain, increases the risk of severe mental illness, and can even predict future substance abuse. We know that the younger a user is when they initiate use, the greater the odds are that they become addicted. According to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, nearly one in five people who begin marijuana use during adolescence will develop a marijuana use disorder.

What’s more, more than 2,000 cases of illness and at least 39 deaths have been reported nationwide stemming from the use of high potency marijuana vaping products. While the industry has been quick to point the finger at the underground market, at least three deaths and numerous cases of illness have been linked to purchases made at “legal” dispensaries.

Additionally, some individuals suffering from a marijuana use disorder have found themselves in emergency rooms with bouts of uncontrollable vomiting. This new ailment, known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, coupled with the ongoing marijuana vaping crisis, are assuredly only the beginning of new health harms to result from marijuana legalization and normalization.
https://learnaboutsam.org/new-study-youth-marijuana-addiction-rates-25-percent-higher-in-legalized-states/

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Cannabis-based medicines: Two drugs approved for NHS

BBC News 11 November 2019
Family First Comment: The way medicine should be administered
“Doctors will be able to prescribe Epidyolex, for children with two types of severe epilepsy – Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome – which can cause multiple seizures a day. Clinical trials have shown the oral solution, which contains cannabidiol (CBD), could reduce the number of seizures by up to 40% in some children. The drug does not contain the main psychoactive component of cannabis, THC.”
Not smoked, not grown in your backyard – as the Greens would prefer.
www.saynopetodope.org.nz/medicinal

Two cannabis-based medicines, used to treat epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, have been approved for use by the NHS in England.

It follows new guidelines from the drugs advisory body NICE, which looked at products for several conditions.

Charities have welcomed the move, although some campaigners who have been fighting for access to the drugs have said it does not go far enough.

Both medicines were developed in the UK, where they are also grown.

Doctors will be able to prescribe Epidyolex, for children with two types of severe epilepsy – Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome – which can cause multiple seizures a day.

Clinical trials have shown the oral solution, which contains cannabidiol (CBD), could reduce the number of seizures by up to 40% in some children.

Epidyolex was approved for use in Europe in September, but in draft guidance NICE initially said it was not value for money.

It costs between £5,000 and £10,000 per patient each year – but the manufacturer, GW Pharmaceuticals, has agreed a lower discounted price with the NHS.

It is estimated there are 3,000 people with Dravet and 5,000 with Lennox Gastaut syndrome in England.
READ MORE: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-50351868

Medical cannabis ruled out for chronic pain by NHS drug watchdog in decision branded ‘devastating’
The Telegraph 11 November 2019
Cannabis should not be prescribed for chronic pain, the NHS funding watchdog has ruled, in a decision branded ‘devastating’ by campaigners.

New guidance, released on Monday by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), says there is no evidence to show that cannabis is beneficial for people suffering long-term pain.

Charities had hoped that the drug would become widely available after it was decriminalised for medical use by Sajid Javid last November following high-profile campaigns involving children such as Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, who both have hard-to-treat epilepsy.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2019/11/11/medical-cannabis-ruled-chronic-pain-nhs-drug-watchdog-decision/

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‘Recovery is possible’: Former meth, heroin addict shares inspiring two-year transformation

NewsHub 11 November 2019
Family First Comment: “her years of drug abuse started with marijuana as a 13-year-old”
Please don’t legalise.

Warning: This article mentions rape and attempted suicide.

A recovering meth and heroin addict who resorted to stealing and prostitution to fund her habit has shared her inspiring two-year transformation.

Jamee Valet, 25, shared her incredible before-and-after photos to the popular Facebook group ‘The Addict’s Diary’ on Wednesday.

“My name is Jamee and I am a recovering heroin and meth addict,” the Oregon resident captioned the two photos.

“These pictures are [two] years apart. The better-looking version of me being just a few months ago when I got my GED! Recovery is possible!”

A photo from 2017 shows Valet with pockmarked, scabbed skin and deep, black circles beneath her eyes. The other shows the 25-year-old at her July graduation ceremony for her GED [general education development] diploma, her skin clear and glowing.

In a candid interview with the Daily Mail, Valet said her years of drug abuse started with marijuana as a 13-year-old, her “really rough” childhood leading to drugs, sex and alcohol as “ways to escape reality”.

As a teen, Valet became hooked on Vicodin, oxycodone, morphine and Percocet after being introduced to the prescription pills by a former boyfriend. When she was 17, Valet was raped by two men while she was intoxicated and incoherent.

To cope with the trauma of the rapes, Valet turned to heroin and methamphetamine after being introduced to the class A drugs by a dealer. When her using developed into a daily habit, Valet resorted to stealing to fund her addiction.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/lifestyle/2019/11/recovery-is-possible-former-meth-heroin-addict-shares-inspiring-two-year-transformation.html

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