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Canada’s Cannabis Use Continues To Climb

Media Release 23 December 2020
The latest data from Health Canada’s Canadian Cannabis Survey reveals that there has been three years of consecutive increases in use since legalisation, and that almost 1 in 3 Canadian males over 16 consumed cannabis in the past 12 months, and 1 in 4 females.

In 2020, 27% of Canadians reported having used cannabis in the past 12 months, an increase from 25% (2019) and 22% (2018).

This is growing to almost double the rate in New Zealand, with past year use at just 15% compared to Canada’s 27% under legalisation.

Contrary to claims made by the Drug Foundation, use by teenagers is disturbingly high at 44% (up from 36% just two years ago). In fact, 21% of teenage users were using daily or almost daily. People between the ages of 16 to 24 years reported cannabis use in the past year at a percentage that was approximately double that of those 25 years and older.

Prevalence of use by users was also high. 47% of past-year cannabis users used at least weekly, with 25% using daily or almost daily.

21% of teen users and 23% of young adult users were using daily or almost daily.

For self-reported mental health, the percentage reporting past 12-month cannabis use increases as mental health ratings decrease. For physical health, the group with the highest proportion reporting past 12-month cannabis use was those who report only fair physical health (31%). The groups with the lowest proportions reporting cannabis use were those reporting excellent (25%) and very good (26%) physical health.

People who had reported using cannabis in the past 30 days were asked about the number of hours they would spend “stoned” or “high” on a typical use day. 36% reported they would be “stoned” or “high” on a typical use day for three or four hours (an increase from 30% in 2019).

Smoking remains the most common method of consuming cannabis, but it has declined while eating cannabis products (edibles) has increased since 2019.

Although 41% reported they had made a purchase from a legal storefront (significantly higher than in 2019 when it was 24%), they also reported spending approximately $49 in the past 30 days to obtain cannabis from legal sources, and $47 from illegal sources.

“It’s pretty clear from Canada’s ongoing experiment with legalisation that we dodged a health and social harm bullet when kiwi voters rejected legalisation in the recent referendum. New Zealand is too precious to be wasted,” says Bob McCoskrie of Family First.

Significant Youth Cannabis Use Increases in Legalised US States

Media Release 22 December 2020
US state-level 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 significant increases in youth cannabis use in several recently legalised marijuana states versus last year. At the same time, mental illness indicators worsened across the country while alcohol, cocaine, and tobacco use dropped, especially among young people.

According to the data, adolescents aged 12-17 using marijuana in the past year significantly increased versus last year in the legalised states of Nevada, Oregon, and California. All other legal states showed increases as well, but versus last year they did not reach statistical levels of significance.

Nevada experienced a 17.4% increase, while Oregon and California witnessed increases of 15.4% and 14.5%, respectively. These increases were not witnessed in non-legal states. In non-legal Virginia and New York, adolescent past year marijuana use significantly fell, as it did in the non-legal Southern region of the United States.

The data additionally show a statistically significant 25.5% increase in past-month use in California among those aged 12-17.

The data also show us that youth use in states that have “legalised” marijuana far outstrips use in states that have not. Past-month marijuana use among young people aged 12-17 in “legal” states is 54.5% higher than past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds in “non-legal” states (10% versus 6.47%). Past-year marijuana use among this age group in “legal” states is 41% higher than that of 12-17-year-olds in “non-legal” states (17.12% versus 12.14%).

Use among young adults aged 18-25 skyrocketed, especially in legal states.

At the same time, mental health indicators, including major depressive episodes, suicidal thoughts, and serious mental illness have worsened.

Cannabis users ‘fail to grasp health risks of smoking,’ study says

The Guardian 19 December 2020
Family First Comment: “Government generally sees cannabis and tobacco as separate issues but plainly their use is deeply interwoven,” said Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health. “There is an opportunity to address this in the government’s planned Addiction Strategy. This strategy must include measures to tackle the overlapping use of cannabis and tobacco and the resulting harm to health.”
#SmokeFree #DrugFree

Study shows that consumers of drug are not aware they could be risking a lifetime of tobacco addiction

Hundreds of thousands of people who smoke cannabis describe themselves as non-smokers, a study has revealed. Experts fear the findings mean cannabis users may not appreciate that smoking the drug carries many of the same health risks as smoking tobacco.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, and based on a survey of almost 13,000 British adults, estimates that 380,000 people who describe themselves as non-smokers are smoking cannabis with or without tobacco at least weekly.

A further 830,000 tobacco smokers also smoke cannabis at least weekly, suggesting that there may be around 1.2 million weekly cannabis smokers in Britain, a figure borne out by previous studies.

“It is extremely concerning,” said Hannah Walsh of King’s College London, one of the study’s authors. “It is possible that they do not realise they are putting their health at risk. It’s also a concern that people may be unwittingly establishing a tobacco addiction, with cannabis acting as their route into a lifetime of smoking tobacco.”

The study discusses recent research suggesting that UK-based recreational cannabis users who mix the drug with tobacco will use about 0.35g of tobacco per joint, equivalent to one third of the content of a cigarette.

“This exposes participants to cotinine (the main metabolite of nicotine found in the bloodstream) levels suggestive of moderate tobacco exposure, equivalent to that found in light/moderate cigarette smokers,” the study notes. It also points to research that finds mixing cannabis and tobacco produces more negative acute cardiovascular effects and is associated with chronic bronchitis.

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Mike Yardley: Rapid roadside drug-testing can’t come soon enough

NewsTalk ZB 17 December 2020
Family First Comment: “You only have to look at the fatal crash stats in Colorado to see the perverse surge in cannabis-related road deaths, after that state legalised recreational use. Thank God the Chloe Swarbrick’s of this world were defeated and stopped at making our current plight, even worse.”

Coroner David Robinson’s chilling findings about dopes on dope, behind the wheel, are stark. His review of nine fatal vehicle crashes is a wake up call to the aloof, who still think cannabis is harmless.

The coroner is warning of the menace of drug-impaired driving, after finding cannabis was implicated in six of the nine fatalities, he was required to examine.

Six in nine.

You only have to look at the fatal crash stats in Colorado to see the perverse surge in cannabis-related road deaths, after that state legalised recreational use.

Thank God the Chloe Swarbrick’s of this world were defeated and stopped at making our current plight, even worse.

The Coroner’s insights are further proof why rapid roadside drug-testing is so badly needed. It’s shameful that it has taken so long. When National was last in government, Stuart Nash hounded them to roll it out. And yet now, Nash’s crew are into their second term in power, and the wait goes on.

The public desire for real road enforcement against drug-driving is huge. Even Julie Anne Genter was recently forced to admit, that the drug factor in our road toll is horrendous. In July, she confirmed that over a hundred people died in crashes last year where the driver had drugs in their system. That drug factor in dead drivers, by the way, amounted to just under a third of all road fatalities last year.

And the AA has produced fatal crash data to indicate that drug-driving is an equal menace if not a bigger menace now, than drink-driving.

Finally, we have legislation before the house that will implement rapid roadside drug-testing, next year. We are light years behind the UK, the US, Canada and Australia in taking the fight to this scourge. Under our roll-out, it will be a two-step regime. There will be fines for drivers who test positive for the presence of drugs. And harsher criminal penalties if you breach the specified impairment levels. Roll on 2021. It cannot come soon enough.


Upward trend in hospital emergency room discharges related to a cannabis use disorder

San Diego County Marijuana Prevention Initiative on 2020 marijuana report
KUSI News 15 December 2020
Family First Comment: “According to findings of the 2020 California Marijuana Impact Report, stronger potency in pot products has led to an upward trend in hospital emergency room discharges related to a cannabis use disorder. There has been a 350% increase in potency between 1995 – 2018. Additionally, marijuana concentrates can contain up to 90% THC. The most recent findings from the monitoring the future survey indicated the largest single-year increases in adolescent marijuana vaping ever recorded in the surveys 45-year history.”
Still wanna legalise? Nope.

According to findings of the 2020 CA Marijuana Impact Report, stronger potency in pot products has led to an upward trend in hospital emergency room discharges related to a cannabis use disorder.

The new report on marijuana-related public health issues was released Thursday. The report also highlighted the increase in youth vaping and emergency room discharges.

The average potency of THC, the primary psychoactive chemical found in marijuana is at its highest levels in history, according to the report. There has been a 350% increase in potency between 1995 – 2018. Additionally, marijuana concentrates can contain up to 90% THC.

The most recent findings from the monitoring the future survey indicated the largest single-year increases in adolescent marijuana vaping ever recorded in the surveys 45-year history.

Statewide emergency department data indicate a continued increase in marijuana-related visits. From 2016 to 2019, California Emergency Department visits and admissions for any related marijuana misuse has increased by 89%.

The report said Marijuana remains the primary drug of choice for youth ages 12-17 entering treatment

“Marijuana-related public health issues should not be ignored. Increasingly potent pot products, vaping is increasing among youth, ER discharges are increasing, age of onset is younger, treatment numbers are high and the rise of a cannabis use disorder,” said Dave King, Director, San Diego – Imperial High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
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Coroner expresses alarm at finding cannabis implicated in six of nine fatal road crashes

NZ Herald 16 December 2020
Family First Comment: “Cannabis was implicated in six of those nine. If that sample is truly representative of the proportion of fatal driving cases where cannabis is implicated, the picture painted must be of real concern.” – Coroner

A coroner has warned of the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs after reviewing nine fatal vehicle crashes and finding cannabis use was implicated in six of them.

The stark warning came in the coronial findings which examined the death of Thomas Jacob Goodman who crashed driving home from a work gathering on the night of November 29 last year.

Goodman, 29, had just started working as a farmhand at a South Canterbury farm when he and some workmates stayed behind for a few drinks.

His employer supplied alcohol and a barbecue was put on.

When Goodman went to leave at around 10pm, his boss asked him if he was “okay to drive” and offered him a bed for the night. He thought he’d had around three to four beers over the evening – six at the most.

Goodman said he was fit to drive and headed home, a short distance away.

His boss texted him around 20 minutes later – as he did with most of his workers – to check that he’d arrived home safely.

But he never got a reply.

Waimate crash victim not wearing seat belt, alcohol and cannabis in system
Stuff 16 December 2020
A Waimate man killed after his vehicle barrel-rolled down a bank had cannabis in his system, was close to five times over the legal alcohol limit, and was not wearing a seatbelt.

When Thomas Jacob Goodman decided to head home after dinner and a few drinks with his colleagues at the Kurow farm where they worked, his boss offered him a bed for the night. He declined.

The next morning, Goodman’s vehicle was discovered at the bottom of a steep slope.

Coroner David Robinson made no recommendations at the conclusion of an inquiry into the 29-year-old man’s death in a crash off Clarkesfield Rd, near Waimate, overnight November 29, 2019.

“Mr Goodman’s death could have been prevented by adhering to basic rules of road safety such as wearing a seatbelt, and obeying the law as it applies to alcohol and drug use,” the coroner said in a decision released on Wednesday.

Tyre marks at the crash scene showed Goodman drifted onto the right side of the road and when trying to correct himself, slid off the left side and barrel-rolled down a 5.5-metre slope.

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Why medicinal cannabis suffered after the October cannabis referendum

The SpinOff 7 December 2020
Family First Comment: “There was a lot of confusion, a lot of people not understanding that medicinal cannabis is already legal, that there is framework here & some people who felt that business like ours actually depended on ‘yes’ vote”

Yep – blame the Drug Foundation and Chloe.
We tried to warn New Zealand voters.

In the aftermath of the cannabis referendum on October 17, stocks for the two NZX-listed medicinal cannabis companies both sold down. While the referendum concerned the recreational, not medicinal use of cannabis, medicinal cannabis companies say there may have been some confusion about the actual impact of the referendum on the medicinal market.

In September, one of those listed companies, Cannasouth, reached its all-time high on the NZX, trading shares for $1.21 each. After the election on October 17, prices declined, reaching a low of $0.54 one month later, after the cannabis referendum results were announced.

Mark Lucas, CEO of Cannasouth, says while it’s not possible to explain exactly why stocks drop when they do – it can be for a range of reasons – there is an argument that the eventual “no” vote did affect the way some investors perceived the brand’s growth potential.

“Some people may have made the assumption that a medicinal cannabis company would be in a good position if there was an adult use market. That’s not something as a company that we have articulated.”

Lucas says despite Cannasouth’s medicinal focus, there was a lot of confusion around what a “yes” vote would mean for the medicinal cannabis sector, which may have caused further confusion when the “no” vote became clear.

“[There was] a lot of confusion, a lot of people not understanding that medicinal cannabis is already legal, that there is a framework here and some people who felt that a business like ours actually depended on a ‘yes’ vote.”

The medicinal cannabis scheme, which came into effect on April 1, 2020, was put in place to improve access to quality medicinal cannabis products as medicine. Under the scheme, cannabis is only available under a prescription from a doctor and licenses need to be obtained for companies wanting to produce medicinal cannabis product – the Ministry of Health states this scheme is entirely separate from October’s cannabis referendum.

The cannabis referendum however sought to legalise recreational cannabis and allow designated dispensaries from which anyone over the age of 20 could purchase up to 14g of cannabis product per day. So why did investors get so confused?


Pharmacies accused of over-charging patients for medicinal cannabis

Stuff 6 December 2020
Family First Comment: What’s interesting in this coverage is that there’s been no screaming and shouting from the rooftops by the Greens and Chloe about this problem.
Which proves that the medicinal issue has been a smokescreen all along.

Since the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme came into operation in April, the number of reported product packs supplied has skyrocketed from 1276 then to 2387 in September, an 87 per cent jump.

None of the products are made in New Zealand because no company has yet passed the Ministry of Health’s strict quality standards to obtain a licence to manufacture. That is expected to change in the coming months.

Meanwhile, all medicinal cannabis is being imported by five companies with licences to do so.

A source in one medicinal cannabis company told Stuff they would typically add 50 per cent to the price they purchased it for overseas, the pharmacy wholesaler would add around 3-6 per cent and some pharmacies were adding anywhere between 50 and 100 per cent.

Because the products are unapproved medicines, they cannot by law be advertised so there is no transparency around pricing.

And because the products are not Government funded, pharmacists can charge what they like.

Some pharmacists are using their standard computer software to generate a retail price; others are charging a flat fee which is $10 to $20 above the wholesale price, on “compassionate” grounds.

Wholesale prices obtained from a variety of sources by Stuff varied widely for similar products.

Prices may vary depending on the supplier, but generally the wholesale price of a 40ml bottle of Tilray, containing 100mg of CBD per millilitre, is about $433, including GST.

A 40ml bottle of Endoca (150mg) is about $396, a 30ml bottle of Theraleaf (100mg) is about $229, a 25ml bottle of Medleaf (100mg) about $200 and a 30ml bottle of Eqalis​ (120mg) about $178.

Depending on the prescribed dosage, a bottle can last for a month or two.

To save money, many patients have illegally imported products themselves via the internet – a bottle of CBD oil can be bought for about $100 – or turned to the illicit local market.

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Kate Hawkesby: Will calls for another cannabis referendum be taken seriously?

NewsTalk ZB 30 November 2020
Family First Comment: Kate sums it up well – again! 😊
“I can’t help thinking of all the things we could be getting signatures over for important referendums in this country, decriminalising something that’s barely criminalised as it is, seems pointless. So maybe the lesson here for those on the losing side of this debate now is – just let it go.”

God bless the 20 year old Young Greens activist who wants a citizen initiated referendum on the decriminalisation of cannabis.

All he’s doing is highlighting how the government got this wrong first time round.

How much the pro lobby shot itself in the foot with its attempts to legalise? Mixed messaging, confusing misleading statements about medicinal, the advantage it would give big business, the smattering of weed shops around the country. It over shot the mark, went too far, and it didn’t convince enough New Zealanders to make it a reality.

It should’ve focused on decriminalisation not legalisation in the first place. It should have kept the messaging simple. But that’s all history now. The fact is, they lost.

But it was close. So close it’s not remotely surprising that someone has popped up and said let’s try that again.

A citizen-initiated referendum needs 355,000 signatures within a year to get to referendum status.

It’s not binding – and here’s the key – it’s up to the government to decide at that point if they want to go ahead with it.

Two problems here. One, even if it gets enough signatures, historically governments don’t do anything with citizen initiated referendums other than ignore them.

Two, they’ve missed the point. The government has already put in place policing measures which see most cannabis offences overlooked, given a warning – anything but actual prosecution.

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Another cannabis referendum? Vote proposed on decriminalisation

NZ Herald 28 November 2020
Family First Comment: This will be interesting to watch:
1. Trying to organise 350,000 signatures is a massive mammoth task
2. The Greens oppose decriminalisation
3. Politicians HATE citizens initiated referendums and have never respected them!
4. The Green Party guy’s name is ‘Bouma’ (sounds like ……)

Another referendum on cannabis is being proposed – this time to decriminalise, but not legalise, the drug.

A public notice in today’s Herald gives notice that a citizen-initiated referendum has been proposed asking: “Should New Zealand decriminalise the possession of cannabis for personal use?”

The proposal, lodged by Wellington Central Young Greens activist Mathew Bouma, is open for comments on the proposed wording until February 1.

House of Representatives Clerk David Wilson and Bouma must then agree on a final wording, and the issue will go to a referendum if Bouma can collect valid signatures from at least one-tenth of the country’s 3.55 million electors – 355,000 people – within 12 months.

The initiative comes just six weeks after a narrow majority of 50.7 per cent of New Zealanders voted against legalising cannabis.

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