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Poll says dope referendum would easily pass – or would it?

2020 cannabis referendum would easily pass, poll says 
NewsHub 9 January 2019
Family First Comment: The poll is simply not robust or reliable. It’s a self selected polling panel with prizes offered to join.
And 10% of the sample group say they use dope daily! Ministry of Health says the true figure is just 3.7%. Did Horizons get their respondents from a rock concert?But it’s interesting that Paul Manning and Big Marijuana is pushing this. Just as we predicted – and warned. Big Tobacco 2

A new poll reveals a large majority of New Zealanders would support legalising recreational cannabis use in the Government’s 2020 referendum.

The independent survey of nearly 1000 people, conducted by Horizon Research, surveyed Kiwis on their attitudes towards cannabis, law reform, and its use.

It shows 60 percent of adults would vote to support legalising cannabis for personal use in a referendum, with 24 percent against. Just 16 percent had no opinion.

The survey also reveals that 55 percent of adult New Zealanders have used cannabis at some time during their lives, while 10 percent said they use cannabis daily – or around 340,000 Kiwis.

The poll had a maximum margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. But Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, who opposes the ‘yes’ vote, says the poll is “simply not robust or reliable”.
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$488 million in drugs seized through Ports of Auckland vs $4000 Port of Tauranga

NZ Herald 8 January 2019
Family First Comment: “Acting Minister of Customs Iain Lees-Galloway said the government was strongly committed to stopping the flow of illicit drugs across our borders and reducing the harm caused by illegal substances in our communities.”
Good. Don’t legalise then.

Just over $4000 worth of drugs has been seized by Customs from ships in the Port of Tauranga since 2009, compared with more than $400 million seized through the Ports of Auckland.

Since 2009, Customs has seized drugs with a street value of $488.9 million through the Ports of Auckland compared to just $4083 through the Port of Tauranga.

The data obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times from Customs under the Official Information Act did not include 46kg of cocaine seized at the Port of Tauranga in November last year, as it was a joint operation with police.

Methamphetamine accounted for $276.6m worth of drugs seized at Ports of Auckland compared to $2260 worth of ecstasy at Port of Tauranga that was found earlier this year.

Customs communications and events director Simon Lambourne said most drug seizures in Auckland were at the port, at the airport, or through international mail.

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Marijuana legalization debate prompts a new high in hypocrisy

Fox News 6 January 2019
Family First CommentSo true…
“Many of the same folks who have been pushing for healthier school lunches, soft drink bans, lower salt content in food and calorie disclosures at restaurants suddenly don’t care about legalising a substance that has been scientifically proven to worsen our national public health crisis.”

If you had a nickel for every time a Democrat used arguments about “science” in discussions about climate change, you’d be rich. Scientific studies about the existence of climate change – be it man-made or naturally occurring – are often used as cudgels against opponents of the left’s radical environmental agenda or international regulatory regimes like the Paris Climate Accord.

However, when it comes to legalizing recreational marijuana, Democrats sing a much different tune. Many of the same folks who have been pushing for healthier school lunches, soda bans, lower salt content in food and calorie disclosures at restaurants suddenly don’t care about legalizing a substance that has been scientifically proven to worsen our national public health crisis.

The “Big Pot” legalization crowd willfully ignores decades of scientific research that provides clear and convincing evidence that frequent recreational marijuana consumption has a range of lasting negative health consequences.

Major medical associations overwhelmingly agree that sustained marijuana usage – particularly of today’s more potent forms of pot – can have both physical and neurological impacts, including reduced motor function and cognitive impairment, along with a range of other health risks.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that adverse health effects include addiction, impacts on brain development, possible mental illness and impaired driving ability.

A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine study found there is substantial evidence linking cannabis smoking and chronic bronchitis, development of schizophrenia and other psychoses.

The American Academy of Pediatricians has raised alarm bells about the dangers for younger users on brain development. The Royal College of General Practitioners in Britain and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction have also come to the conclusion that frequent use of marijuana has negative physical, psychological and neurological impacts.
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Marijuana Is More Dangerous Than You Think

The Wall Street Journal 4 January 2019
Family First Comment: “The number of Americans who use cannabis heavily is soaring. In 2006, about 3 million Americans reported using the drug at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number had increased to 8 million.”
And the link to violence including family violence should cause NZ to pause and think.

As legalization spreads, more Americans are becoming heavy users of cannabis, despite its links to violence and mental illness

Over the past 30 years, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has made Americans more tolerant of marijuana. In November 2018, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational cannabis use; New Jersey and others may soon follow. Already, more than 200 million Americans live in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. Yet even as marijuana use has become more socially acceptable, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have reached a consensus that it presents more serious risks than most people realize.

Contrary to the predictions of both advocates and opponents, legalization hasn’t led to a huge increase in people using the drug casually. About 15% of Americans used cannabis at least once in 2017, up from 10% in 2006, according to the federal government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. By contrast, almost 70% of Americans had an alcoholic drink in the past year.

But the number of Americans who use cannabis heavily is soaring. In 2006, about 3 million Americans reported using the drug at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number had increased to 8 million—approaching the 12 million Americans who drank every day. Put another way, only one in 15 drinkers consumed alcohol daily; about one in five marijuana users used cannabis that often.

And they are consuming cannabis that is far more potent than ever before, as measured by the amount of THC it contains. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for the drug’s psychoactive effects. In the 1970s, most marijuana contained less than 2% THC. Today, marijuana routinely contains 20-25% THC, thanks to sophisticated farming and cloning techniques and to the demand of users to get a stronger high more quickly. In states where cannabis is legal, many users prefer extracts that are nearly pure THC.

Cannabis advocates often argue that the drug can’t be as neurotoxic as studies suggest because otherwise Western countries would have seen population-wide increases in psychosis alongside rising marijuana use. In reality, accurately tracking psychosis cases is impossible in the U.S. The government carefully tracks diseases such as cancer with central registries, but no such system exists for schizophrenia or other severe mental illnesses.

Some population-level data does exist, though. Research from Finland and Denmark, two countries that track mental illness more accurately, shows a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, following an increase in cannabis use. And last September, a large survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the U.S. too. In 2017, 7.5% of young adults met the criteria for serious mental illness, double the rate in 2008.

None of these studies prove that rising cannabis use has caused population-wide increases in psychosis or other mental illness, although they do offer suggestive evidence of a link. What is clear is that, in individual cases, marijuana can cause psychosis, and psychosis is a high risk factor for violence. What’s more, much of that violence occurs when psychotic people are using drugs. As long as people with schizophrenia are avoiding recreational drugs, they are only moderately more likely to become violent than healthy people. But when they use drugs, their risk of violence skyrockets. The drug they are most likely to use is cannabis.

The most obvious way that cannabis fuels violence in psychotic people is through its tendency to cause paranoia. Even marijuana advocates acknowledge that the drug can cause paranoia; the risk is so obvious that users joke about it, and dispensaries advertise certain strains as less likely to do so. But for people with psychotic disorders, paranoia can fuel extreme violence. A 2007 paper in the Medical Journal of Australia looked at 88 defendants who had committed homicide during psychotic episodes. It found that most of the killers believed they were in danger from the victim, and almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis—more than alcohol and amphetamines combined.

The link between marijuana and violence doesn’t appear limited to people with pre-existing psychosis. Researchers have studied alcohol and violence for generations, proving that alcohol is a risk factor for domestic abuse, assault and even murder. Far less work has been done on marijuana, in part because advocates have stigmatized anyone who raises the issue. Still, there are studies showing that marijuana use is a significant risk factor for violence.

A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, examining a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents, found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence in the U.S. A 2017 paper in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, examining drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men, found that drug use was linked to a fivefold increase in violence, and the drug used was nearly always cannabis.

Before states legalized recreational cannabis, advocates predicted that legalization would let police focus on hardened criminals rather than on marijuana smokers and thus reduce violent crime. Some advocates even claim that legalization has reduced violent crime: In a 2017 speech calling for federal legalization, Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said that “these states are seeing decreases in violent crime.”

But Mr. Booker is wrong. The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. Combined, those four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. In 2017, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults—an increase far greater than the national average.

Knowing exactly how much of that increase is related to cannabis is impossible without researching every crime. But for centuries, people all over the world have understood that cannabis causes mental illness and violence—just as they’ve known that opiates cause addiction and overdose. Hard data on the relationship between marijuana and madness dates back 150 years, to British asylum registers in India.

Yet 20 years ago, the U.S. moved to encourage wider use of cannabis and opiates. In both cases, we decided we could outsmart these drugs—enjoying their benefits without their costs. And in both cases, we were wrong. Opiates are riskier than cannabis, and the overdose deaths they cause are a more imminent crisis, so public and government attention have focused on them. Soon, the mental illness and violence that follow cannabis use also may be too widespread to ignore.

—Mr. Berenson is a former New York Times reporter and the author of 12 novels. This essay is adapted from his new book, “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence,” which will be published by Free Press on Jan. 8.


Police Minister Stuart Nash wants drug testing kits at all music festivals by next summer

NZ Herald 2 January 2019 
Police Minister Stuart Nash wants to see all New Zealand music festivals kitted out with drug testing kits by next summer.

This has been welcomed by the New Zealand Drug Foundation, who said this was “fantastic news”.

But the foundation’s executive director Ross Bell has warned the Minister that a law change would be needed before drug testing stations become the norm at the bigger festivals.

Nash’s comments come after illicit drugs, which contained traces of pesticide, were obtained by police in Gisborne at the Rhythm and Vine music festival earlier this week.

Family First National Director Bob McCoskrie said the Government’s approach was “flawed and dangerous”.

“Pill testing will be seen by many younger people especially as a clear endorsement of drug use.”

He said it would send a message that illicit drugs are acceptable and can be safe and will worsen harmful drug use.

Earlier this week, a petition calling for the introduction of roadside drug testing was launched.


Soft and Flawed Approach On Drugs At Music Festivals

Media Release 2 January 2019 
The SayNopeToDope Campaign says attempts to allow drug use and drug testing at music festivals is flawed and dangerous, and is being used by drug-friendly groups and a government apparently soft-on-drugs as a wedge for the normalisation of drug use.

“Having drug-free music festivals is not a ‘hardline’ approach as foolishly claimed by the Greens – it’s a health and safety approach based on best practice. Drug overdoses are a huge concern, and testing won’t protect users because there is no such thing as a safe drug,” says a spokesperson for the SayNopeToDope campaign.

“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’.”

“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.”

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 This was precisely the case with Anna Wood, who took the same amount as her friends, but only she died.

“New Zealand lawmakers and authorities should adopt the same approach as overseas jurisdictions. 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.”

“This 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.”

Further info:

The last thing we would want to do is give people a false sense of security about taking illegal drugs cooked up in someone’s bath tub.”
President of the Australian Medical Association, Oct 2017

“Advice from Victoria Police tells us it can give people a false and potentially fatal sense of security about illicit drugs.”
Victorian government spokesman, Jan 2019.

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.”
Toxicologist Andrew Leibie, from Safework Laboratories, Oct 2017

It’s a poison. You can test a poison all you like, it remains a poison.”
State Health Commander of Ambulance Victoria, Jan 2018

“Anyone who advocates pill testing is giving the green light to drugs, that is absolutely unacceptable, there is no such thing as a safe drug… I want to send a strong message to every young person … You should not take drugs at these events or anywhere else, and last night’s tragic consequences demonstrated this.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government will shut down the Sydney dance music festival Defqon.1 after two people died and another three were left critically ill after the event in September.

Three deaths in Melbourne in January 2017 were due to other drugs 4-FA and 25C-NBOMe in ecstasy pills, but Victorian Police said that normal pill testing would not have helped.

Last April, the ACT shadow Attorney General Jeremy Hanson said that “By the government’s own admission, mobile pill testing kits may not trace all strands of synthetic substance in illicit drugs, and the available literature on pill testing ‘does not provide evidence that pill testing prevents deaths among festival patrons’. Assertions that pill testing will save lives are misleading, and doctors and toxicologists have echoed these concerns.”

“Determining 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.”
Melvin Benn, Festival Republic’s managing director, UK’s largest festival organiser which organises Reading and Leeds Festivals, among others

Drugs can devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities. This government’s approach remains clear that we must prevent drug use in our communities and support people through treatment and recovery. No illegal drug can be assumed to be safe and there is no safe way to take them.”
Home Office – UK government, June 2018


‘Dead Skunk’ Stench From Marijuana Farms Outrages Californians

The New York Times 19 December 2018 
They call it fresh skunk, the odor cloud or sometimes just the stink.

Mike Wondolowski often finds himself in the middle of it. He may be on the chaise longue on his patio, at his computer in the house, or tending to his orange and lemon trees in the garden when the powerful, nauseating stench descends on him.

Mr. Wondolowski lives a half-mile away from greenhouses that were originally built to grow daisies and chrysanthemums but now house thousands of marijuana plants, part of a booming — and pungent — business seeking to cash in on recreational cannabis, which has been legal in California since January.

“If someone is saying, ‘Is it really that bad?’ I’ll go find a bunch of skunks and every evening I’ll put them outside your window,” Mr. Wondolowski said. “It’s just brutal.”

When Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, there were debates about driving under the influence and keeping it away from children. But lawmakers did not anticipate the uproar that would be generated by the funk of millions of flowering cannabis plants.

As a result of the stench, residents in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, are suing to ban cannabis operations from their neighborhoods. Mendocino County, farther north, recently created zones banning cannabis cultivation — the sheriff’s deputy there says the stink is the No. 1 complaint.

In Santa Barbara County, cannabis growers confronting the rage of neighbors are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars installing odor-control systems that were designed for garbage dumps.

The smell from commercial cannabis farms, which brings to mind a mixture of rotting lemons and sulfur, is nothing like the wafting cloud that might hover over a Phish show, pot farm detractors say.

“It’s as if a skunk, or multiple skunks in a family, were living under our house,” said Grace Guthrie, whose home sits on the site of a former apple orchard outside the town of Sebastopol. Her neighbors grow pot commercially. “It doesn’t dissipate,” Ms. Guthrie said. “It’s beyond anything you would imagine.”

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Tobacco giant Altria strides into vape market with $19b Juul Stake

NZ Herald 21 December 2018
Family First Comment: Welcome to Big Marijuana – potentially in NZ one day. NZ Investors are already lining up.
“….The investment comes about two weeks after Altria stepped into the cannabis market with an investment of around $2 billion in Cronos Group, the Canadian medical and recreational marijuana provider. North American consumer spending on legal cannabis is expected to grow from US$9.2 billion in 2017, to US$47.3 billion by 2027, according to Arcview Market Research, a cannabis-focused investment firm.”

Altria, one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, is spending nearly US$13 billion (NZ$19 billion) to buy a huge stake in the vape company Juul as cigarette use continues to decline.

The Marlboro maker said Thursday that it will take a 35 per cent share of Juul, putting the value of the company at US$38 billion, larger than Ford Motor Company, Delta Air Lines or the retail giant Target.

“We are taking significant action to prepare for a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose non-combustible products over cigarettes,” Altria Chairman and CEO Howard Willard said in a prepared statement.

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices have been sold in the US since 2007 and have grown into a US$6.6 billion business, and it is already intersecting with another seismic shift in the US — the legalisation of marijuana across the US.

The investment comes about two weeks after Altria stepped into the cannabis market with an investment of around $2 billion in Cronos Group, the Canadian medical and recreational marijuana provider.

North American consumer spending on legal cannabis is expected to grow from US$9.2 billion in 2017, to US$47.3 billion by 2027, according to Arcview Market Research, a cannabis-focused investment firm.

Altria Group isn’t the only major corporation attempting to incorporate marijuana sales.

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Mike Yardley: Cynical cannabis referendum from a Government that’s soft on crime

NZ Herald 19 December 2018
Family First Comment: Well said, Mike.
“Would legalisation improve the health, well-being and productivity of New Zealand? No, it would not. How could it?”

So we’ve got a date for a referendum on dope: election day 2020.

It will be binding and its timing looks like a canny ploy by Labour and the Greens to mobilise the young, the bums and the wayward to get off the couch and actually vote.

Maybe I’m too cynical, but is the cannabis referendum actually being used as bait to try to woo them to the ballot box (and win their party vote too?)

There are many pros and cons to legalising cannabis. I accept that. But the bottom line for me is this: would legalisation improve the health, well-being and productivity of New Zealand? No, it would not. How could it?

So why legalise it? Why capitulate to the cannabis crowd, just because a few other countries have? Why surrender?

Why would we want to throw even more fuel on the fire of our mental health crisis, particularly among our youth? Why add to the scrapheap of wasted lives? I have seen its insidious effects on far too many people I care about. Stolen potential. Broken lives.

But there’s a broader theme unfolding here, that spells political danger for the Government. They could cook their own goose.

Andrew Little’s happy-clappy Justice Summit set the tone. Look at the firestorm over the Rouxle Le Roux sentence. The mood music is growing louder.

This Government is perceived as soft on crime and dysfunction. They want to empty the jails.

Mike Hosking: Stupid, naive drug move bungle of year
NZ Herald 20 December 2018 
Were we asleep or does no one care?

The headline the Government wanted you to hear was the one about cracking down on peddlers and producers of drugs.

Stuart Nash and David Clark, with their best earnest faces on, talked of the scourge of drugs and how they were coming after the bad guys.

“Has making drugs a criminal activity worked? No, not overtly successfully, which of course is the government’s argument.

But it’s no less successful than domestic violence or dangerous driving, are we making those health issues as well?

Part of a government’s role is a top down approach to behaviour expectation, agendas, outlooks, aspirations, and intent for the entire country.

If it looks loose at the top, it fast becomes a slippery slope.

A society’s success is based at least in part by what is not tolerated, what is not acceptable.

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Big cannabis: Should pot be legal? A debate

Radio NZ News 19 December 2018

New Zealanders are to be given the final say on whether personal use of cannabis should be legal. The question will be put in a binding referendum to be held at the 2020 general elections. To get two very different takes on the subject we have Sandra Murray, spokesperson from the Cannabis Referendum Coalition, and Bob McCoskrie, director of Family First.