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Bob McCoskrie

Drug Testing Gives False Hope & Dangerous Message

Media Release 29 December 2019
Family First NZ says that lobbying to allow drug use and drug testing at music festivals is flawed and dangerous, and is primarily being used by drug-friendly groups as a wedge to normalise drug use. Pill testing also does not – and cannot – guarantee that the drug being taken will not cause any physical or mental harm or death to the individual consumer. It also cannot account for the individual’s physiological response to each drug.

“In October, police confirmed that the concertgoers who were hospitalised in a critical condition during the Listen In event at Mt Smart Stadium had consumed MDMA. These drugs would have been given the ‘green light’ by drug testing,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Pill testing cannot test for use of other drugs. Pill testing cannot test for individual allergic-like reactions. Pill testing onsite cannot test for dose. Pill testing is incapable of preventing home deaths. If pill testing is pursued with government approval, the inevitable result will be more people willing to use the substance on the false assumption that they are now safe and publicly acceptable.”

Drug-Free Australia has provided research showing that according to the medical literature the accelerating number of Australian deaths from ecstasy are mostly not from overdosing, nor, according to coroners’ reports, are they due to impurities in party pills – but rather from individual reactions to drugs. A group of friends can all ingest the same amount but only one might die. An important study of 392 Australian MDMA-related deaths between 2001 and 2018 found that it was either ecstasy itself, or ecstasy co-consumed with alcohol, cocaine or amphetamines that caused each death. 29% of the deaths were from accidents such as drownings or car accidents caused by ecstasy intoxication.  No deaths were from dangerous impurities or contaminants, and no deaths were nominated from other synthetic drugs mixed with MDMA in pills. A majority of deaths were from normal recreational doses of ecstasy, seeing as the science on MDMA indicates that ecstasy overdoses are rare.

As Australian Toxicologist Andrew Leibie, said in late-2017, “Public statements made by politicians that the trial would help ‘keep people safe’ were potentially misleading. MDMA is not a safe drug… The whole concept is based on the false assumption that if you do know what you’re taking, it is safe – something that is absolutely untrue.”

A recent study by Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University found that while first time users at festival might be more cautious, prior ecstasy users were only more likely to reduce their harm intentions if the ecstasy contained a toxic contaminant, not if the test revealed a high dose or an inconclusive result. The researchers said that this finding is important because some of the recent ecstasy-related deaths at festivals in Australia which have been linked to high doses of ecstasy. Additionally, if the participant was a prior ecstasy user who was also high in sensation seeking, then they were at the greatest risk of harm, even after participating in the pill test.

“At the same time as we encourage and adopt alcohol-free and smoke-free public events, having drug-free music festivals is a health and safety approach based on best practice. Testing won’t protect users because there is no such thing as a completely safe drug.”

“Pill testing will be seen by many younger people especially as a clear endorsement of drug use. It sends a message that illicit drugs are acceptable and can be ‘safe’, and will worsen harmful drug use, so that more lives will be put at risk with the belief that the drug they are taking is somehow ‘safe’.”

Melvin Benn, Festival Republic’s managing director, UK’s largest festival organiser which organises Reading and Leeds Festivals, among others, saidDetermining to a punter that a drug is in the ‘normal boundaries of what a drug should be’ takes no account of how many he or she will take, whether the person will mix it with other drugs or alcohol and nor does it give you any indicator of the receptiveness of a person’s body to that drug… There are no safe illegal drugs.”

“Pill testing sounds well-intentioned, but behind the smokescreen is simply another ‘facilitated’ ill-informed decision to consume illicit drugs. Festival goers should enjoy the music and stop playing Russian roulette with drugs and with their lives,” says Mr McCoskrie.
ENDS

A quarter of young Canadians have driven under the influence of cannabis: poll

CTV News 27 December 2019
Family First Comment: “the results of the survey reveal a lack of awareness on the part of many young people who believe that cannabis does not affect their driving skills.”
#saynopetodope
VoteNO

A quarter of Canadians aged 18 to 34 have driven after consuming cannabis or been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone under the influence of cannabis, according to a new poll.

This worrying data is contained in a new survey released Friday by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), which says it hopes to increase public awareness on the subject.

According to the same survey, 86 per cent of young Canadians said it is important to find alternative ways to get home when they drink alcohol, but only 70 per cent of them believe it is important to do so after using cannabis.

Jeff Walker, a senior strategic manager at CAA, said the results of the survey reveal a lack of awareness on the part of many young people who believe that cannabis does not affect their driving skills.

Walker said that while the effects of cannabis and alcohol on driving differ, reflexes are slowed in both cases, which can lead to accidents and deaths.

The CAA survey of 1,517 Canadians aged 18 to 34 was conducted Nov. 27 to Dec. 4. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/a-quarter-of-young-canadians-have-driven-under-the-influence-of-cannabis-poll-1.4744782

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Overdose deaths increase by almost 30% in Portugal

The Portugal News 20 December 2019
Family First Comment: Portugal is promoted as a success story by drug proponents in NZ.
But the evidence destroys those claims.
See saynopetodope.org.nz/portugal for plenty more evidence 
#saynopetodope
VoteNO.nz

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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Cannabis Use Continues To Rise in States Where Legal

Media Release 20 December 2019
The latest data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most authoritative study on drug use conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), has found that cannabis use in “legal” US states among youth, young adults, and the general population has continued its upward trend. Additionally, use rates in “legal” states continue to drastically outstrip the use in states that have not legalised the drug.

Past-month marijuana use among young people aged 18-25 in “legal” states has increased 8% in the last year. Use in this age group is 50% higher in “legal” states than in non-legal states.

Past-month youth use (aged 12-17) in states with commercial sales continued its recent upward trend. Since last year, “legal” Washington experienced the largest surge in past month youth use with an 11% increase. Colorado experienced a 4% increase.

Past-month youth use in “legal” states is 40% higher than in non-legal states. And past-year youth use in “legal” states is roughly 30% higher than in non-legal states.

First-time youth use in “legal” states is 30% higher than non-legal states.

“Despite the claims of pro-cannabis lobbyists that legalisation will not affect young adult and youth use, the data show that with legalisation and normalisation, people are radically increasing their rate of consumption,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“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 tobacco use, increased risks of other illicit drug use, and respiratory impairment.”

“Drug advocates are desperate to institute their addiction-for-profit model. It’s time to end this reckless push once and for all.

READ MORE: https://saynopetodope.org.nz/young-people/
ENDS

Teen marijuana vaping is on the rise, a new report says, threatening to ‘undo years of progress’

USA Today 18 December 2019 
Family First Comment: What Chloe and the Drug Foundation and Helen Clark won’t tell….“Federal data out Wednesday showed a “significant” increase in the number of eighth through 12th grade students vaping marijuana, and a similarly high jump in daily cannabis use by eighth and 10th graders, while alcohol and opioid use continues to plummet.” 
But of course legalisation doesn’t increase usage or harm eh 🙄

Federal data out Wednesday showed a “significant” increase in the number of eighth through 12th grade students vaping marijuana, and a similarly high jump in daily cannabis use by eighth and 10th graders, while alcohol and opioid use continues to plummet.

One in 5 high school seniors vaped marijuana in the past year and 14% vaped it in the past month, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported. Both numbers doubled in the past two years, and the jump in past-month use was the second biggest since the study started in 1975.

Meanwhile, past-year alcohol use saw a significant five-year drop among 10th and 12th graders in 2019 to 37.7% and 52.1%. And past-month misuse of the opioid pain reliever Oxycontin was down from 4% of 12th graders in 2002 to 1.7% this year.

Dr. Nora Volkow, the psychiatrist who has been NIDA’s director since 2003, called the vaped marijuana trends “very worrisome.” She pointed to this year’s still-increasing national outbreak of lung illnesses and death, overwhelmingly from vaped THC, and the growing evidence of a link between marijuana, psychosis and other serious mental health disorders, including schizophrenia. THC is the substance in the drug that produces a “high.”

“Teens are clearly attracted to vaping products, which are often concentrated amounts of drugs disguised as electronic gadgets,” said Volkow. “Their growing popularity threatens to undo years of progress protecting the health of adolescents in the U.S.”

As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,409 cases of lung injury from vaping and 52 deaths. State and federal officials have struggled to pinpoint the causes of the vaping illnesses beyond vitamin E acetate, an additive identified in most of the cases studied.
READ MORE: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/12/18/teen-marijuana-vaping-drinking-lung-illness-psychosis/2671120001/

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Nicho Frater jailed for killing 8-month-old Bella Richardson

Stuff co.nz 16 December 2019
Family First Comment: “Frater had 39 previous convictions and had served multiple jail terms. Ten of those convictions were for family violence, including assault with a weapon and threatening to kill in 2016, but none for harm against children. He started using drugs from 18, and was taking cannabis almost daily at the time of Bella’s death, the judge said.”
Legalising cannabis will increase the risk to children.
Read more: https://saynopetodope.org.nz/family-violence-child-abuse/

The mother of a child who died in their home did not go to court to see the killer sent to jail, believing she would not be able to cope.

That killer, 26-year-old Nicho Caleb Fraser, had a long history of family violence before he fatally threw eight-month-old Bella Richardson.

He also tried to conceal his offending, which put suspicion on the baby’s mother.

Frater was jailed for five years in the High Court in Whanganui on Monday for the manslaughter of Bella.

Frater was 23 years old when he killed Bella on November 7, 2016, in a moment of frustration in their Hackett St, Whanganui, home.

Frater said in a pre-sentence report he was using methamphetamine at the time, and he killed Bella while coming down.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/118216176/nicho-frater-jailed-for-killing-8monthold-bella-richardson

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Roadside drug driving test to be law by 2021

Radio NZ News 19 December 2019
Family First Comment: “Last year 95 people were killed in preventable crashes where the driver was found to have drugs in their system that could impair driving. That is an enormous and intolerable loss of life. The new powers will send a clear message that if you take drugs and drive, you will be caught.”
Good. We’ll need these powers as attempts are made to normalise drug use.
https://saynopetodope.org.nz/driving-stoned/

Roadside drug testing will be conducted by police from 2021, the government says.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announced today she would introduce a bill to Parliament early next year giving police powers to run random roadside saliva testing.

“Last year 95 people were killed in preventable crashes where the driver was found to have drugs in their system that could impair driving,” Ms Genter said.

“That is an enormous and intolerable loss of life. The new powers will send a clear message that if you take drugs and drive, you will be caught.”

Ms Genter said the saliva tests will take between two and five minutes to process, but they are not foolproof.

The devices are known to give false positives, so people who tested positive would be tested a second time before facing a fine and an immediate suspension from driving for a minimum of 12 hours.

“Drivers will also face criminal penalties if they fail a compulsory impairment test and blood tests confirm impairing levels of drugs in their system,” Ms Genter said.

“The threshold for a criminal offence will be aligned with that for alcohol. This means a blood test that identifies impairing medication or drugs at or above an amount equivalent to the criminal drink driving limit (80mg of alcohol to 100ml of blood) will result in a criminal offence.”

A variety of drugs will be tested for: THC, methamphetamine, opiates, cocaine, MDMA (ecstacy), and benzodiazepines.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/405791/roadside-drug-driving-test-to-be-law-by-2021
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Te Puna Manawa o Whakaue childcare teachers had cannabis in their system at work

NZ Herald 19 December 2019
Family First Comment: Expect more of this if we legalise.
“Six of the centre’s nine staff failed drug tests after a staff member was questioned for his bloodshot and “very red” eyes, and “very fidgity” and “unusually quiet” behaviour. “We were advised by your advocate that what you do in your own time is none of our business. You’re not acknowledging the result as being extremely concerning considering the environment in which you work.””
Exactly.

Two-thirds of teachers at a Bay of Plenty childcare centre had traces of cannabis in their system while at work – with one turning up with bloodshot and “very red” eyes.

Six of nine teachers working at Rotorua’s Te Puna Manawa o Whakaue were found to have THC in their system – some 64 times the cut-off.

The September 4 discovery resulted in the voluntary closure of the Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue Iho Ake Trust-governed centre on September 6.

Five of the teachers had resigned and one was fired by September 25. The Ministry of Education suspended the centre’s licence on October 9.

The Teaching Council confirmed there was an ongoing investigation “into a matter relating” to the incident.

Documents obtained by the Rotorua Daily Post under the Official Information Act outline the tests results and actions taken during and after the day of the incident.

Six of the centre’s nine staff failed drug tests after a staff member was questioned for his bloodshot and “very red” eyes, and “very fidgity” and “unusually quiet” behaviour on the morning of September 4.
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12292473  (behind paywall)

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Is marijuana linked to psychosis, schizophrenia? Doctors say yes.

Is marijuana linked to psychosis, schizophrenia? It’s contentious, but doctors, feds say yes
USA Today 15 December 2019
Family First CommentThose sounding the alarm include the nation’s “mental health czar” as well as doctors in states including Colorado, California and Massachusetts where marijuana is legal for recreational use. They say the facts are irrefutable: excessive use of today’s high-THC pot and concentrated oil is linked to psychotic episodes that in some cases develop into full-blown schizophrenia.

“All you hear is all these proponents of legalization of pot without thought to the risks and the consequences.”

A number of physicians and parents want to see that change. They are pushing back against the long held assertion of users and advocates that marijuana is a safe, benign and even beneficial drug.

Those sounding the alarm include the nation’s “mental health czar” as well as doctors in states including Colorado, California and Massachusetts where marijuana is legal for recreational use. They say the facts are irrefutable: excessive use of today’s high-THC pot and concentrated oil is linked to psychotic episodes that in some cases develop into full-blown schizophrenia.

There is great disagreement, however, over the strength of the science linking pot and psychosis. Advocates on either side of the marijuana debate have different interpretations of the connection reported in a National Academies 2017 report on cannabis and other studies. One from the British medical journal the Lancet released in March showed a two to five times higher risk of psychotic disorders for daily consumers of high-THC marijuana compared to people who never used.

Those sounding the alarm include the nation’s “mental health czar” as well as doctors in states including Colorado, California and Massachusetts where marijuana is legal for recreational use. They say the facts are irrefutable: excessive use of today’s high-THC pot and concentrated oil is linked to psychotic episodes that in some cases develop into full-blown schizophrenia.

There is great disagreement, however, over the strength of the science linking pot and psychosis. Advocates on either side of the marijuana debate have different interpretations of the connection reported in a National Academies 2017 report on cannabis and other studies. One from the British medical journal the Lancet released in March showed a two to five times higher risk of psychotic disorders for daily consumers of high-THC marijuana compared to people who never used.

The federal government and other health officials, however, say the type of psychosis McIntosh experienced and other psychiatric disorders are clearly tied to the drug.

“It is time for Americans to understand there are substantial risks with marijuana,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, the Department of Health and Human Services’ top mental health official. “This is not the government making up data.”

When Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams included the link between cannabis and psychosis in his August advisory on marijuana’s effect on the “developing brain,” he was trashed and threatened on Twitter. Alex Berenson, a former New York Times business reporter who authored this year’s book, “Tell Your Children: The Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence,” also was widely condemned for his warnings of the drug’s dangers.

Still, McCance-Katz said it was not a difficult decision at HHS to include the link between marijuana and psychosis in the Surgeon General advisory.

“This has been settled science,” she said. “This is something that has been known for many years, yet there has been virtually no attention paid to it.”
READ MORE: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/12/15/weed-psychosis-high-thc-cause-suicide-schizophrenia/4168315002/
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Large number of New Zealanders unclear on the health effects associated with cannabis use, new reports says

TVNZ One News 12 December 2019
Family First Comment: “Those at most risk from the effects of cannabis he says are people under the age of 25, pregnant women and those with mental health issues. He says in those under the age of 25, clearly cannabis appears to change the way the brain develops and in pregnant women, cannabis crosses the placenta and will affect unborn babies. From a mental health perspective, if people under the age of 25 are taking cannabis, we increase the risk of problems like schizophrenia or psychosis.”
So why isn’t this academic on the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel?!!
Views unacceptable?

Ahead of next year’s cannabis referendum, a new report has highlighted the many unknowns New Zealanders face ahead of making an informed decision regarding cannabis use.

The report out today by the Royal Society Te Apārangi outlines the health impacts of cannabis, the benefits, harms and unknowns.

The referendum will take place at the 2020 General Election and voters will be asked: “Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?” Voters will have to give a yes or no answer.

An expert who contributed to the report, Professor Giles Newton-Howes says there are a host of unknowns around the impact of cannabis use.

“I think there is a lot to learn,” he says.

“We know a little bit about some things and not much about an awful lot of things, and so as a doctor that’s difficult when we are thinking about cannabis as a medicine,” he told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

Professor Newton-Howes who works in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago says there is reasonable and high-quality evidence that cannabis-based medicines are useful in two types of rare childhood epilepsies, as well as spasticity and muscle problems associated with multiple sclerosis.

He says there might be value in other areas such as nausea and vomiting in HIV and chronic pain conditions.

“But the evidence in these areas is much, much weaker and so it makes it much more difficult to know how do we translate that evidence and apply it to New Zealanders.”
READ MORE: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/large-number-new-zealanders-unclear-health-effects-associated-cannabis-use-reports-says
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