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Media Release

Little Support For Decriminalising All Drugs – Poll

Media Release 15 June 2021
A new poll has found that there is very little support for the decriminalisation of all drugs such as P (meth), MDMA and cocaine. Support for decriminalising cannabis remains at similar levels to the Yes vote in the recent referendum

In the poll of 1,000 New Zealanders surveyed last month by Curia Market Research, respondents were asked: Last year, the majority of NZers voted no to legalising cannabis for recreational use. But there have been recent calls to still make changes to the drug laws in some way. Of the following three options, which do you support the most?

  • Keep the current drug laws which were amended in 2019. The current law specifies that while drugs remain illegal, consideration should be given to whether a health approach is more beneficial when determining whether a prosecution is required in the public interest for personal drug possession and use, and that the Police focus on drug dealers and manufacturers.
  • Decriminalise the use and possession of cannabis only, but not other drugs
  • Decriminalise the use and possession of ALL drugs, including P (Meth), MDMA, cocaine, cannabis

Only 8% support the decriminalisation of all drugs. 48% support the decriminalisation of cannabis alone (similar to the cannabis legalisation referendum result).

Even amongst the under-30s there was small support for decriminalising all drugs (just 7%). Over 60s most support the status quo.

Of those who voted no in the referendum on legalisation, 61% support the status quo. 19% support cannabis decriminalisation, 5% decriminalisation of all drugs and 15% are unsure. Of those who voted yes, 7% support the status quo. 73% support cannabis decriminalisation, but only 11% decriminalisation of all drugs.

National voters back the status quo, while Labour voters back decriminalisation of cannabis. Green and ACT voters are more likely to support decriminalising of all drugs but still in small proportion (25% and 21% respectively).

The 2021 Salvation Army State of the Nation report showed that prosecutions for cannabis have declined by 70% since 2010. However, international studies also show that convictions and/or imprisonment for drug-related offences are linked to crimes committed while on drugs (murder, armed robbery, theft, assault, child abuse, etc.) or crimes committed in order to obtain drugs. Public safety and health should take priority – the law acts as a deterrent.

report published last year – Decriminalising Drugs: The Truth About Portugal – written on behalf of the Swedish Drug Policy Centre makes it clear that Portugal’s 2001 reforms were more far-reaching than just the abolition of penalties for using and possessing small quantities of drugs. Above all, they included major efforts including resources for primary prevention, funding for civil society projects, social housing, rehabilitation and substitution therapy. The care efforts in Portugal draw on prompt action and good coordination between the various health services. Someone dependent on drugs and arrested by the police will appear before a CDT (Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Abuse) within three days and will often have an initial appointment with an addiction specialist within a week.

This is a good example of the ‘coercion of the law’. It’s both a health and a criminal issue. However, the Portugal report also warns that the number of hospital admissions for cannabis-related psychosis increased almost 30 times between 2000 and 2015. Researchers have found no fall in drug-related violence since the decriminalisation in 2001. The latest figures on drug-related mortality show that Portugal is now back at almost the same level as before decriminalisation. There is also a concern that decriminalisation risks sending signals that promote increased use. Studies suggest that cannabis use has increased among the adult population. As the head of the Portuguese drug agency, SICAD, João Goulão, said, “Decriminalisation is not a miracle cure. If that’s all you do, things will get worse.”

Decriminalisation can only hope to work when there is access to enough addiction counselling and support, and Mike King is clearly warning us that there isn’t.

The nationwide poll which was commissioned by Family First NZ was carried out during May and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.
READ THE FULL POLL RESULTS
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California’s Cannabis Legalisation Leads To Increase In Youth Use

Media Release 17 February 2021
A new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs has found that youth who live in California may be more likely to use cannabis since the drug was legalised in 2016. The study looked at data from more than three million 7th, 9th, and 11th graders (years 8, 10 and 12 respectively in New Zealand) and found significant increases in lifetime and past-month marijuana use among almost all demographics.

Of concern was relatively greater increases in the prevalence of cannabis use among younger adolescents (7th graders) relative to 9th and 11th graders, among females versus males, among non-Hispanic versus Hispanic youth, and among Whites versus youth in other racial groups. According to the researchers, there were greater increases in marijuana use prevalence among youth in ‘low-risk’ groups, which is concerning.

The researchers warn that the greater increases in these normally low-risk groups may be attributed to marijuana use becoming more normative due to legalisation, and that recreational marijuana legalisation may present increased opportunities for adolescents to obtain marijuana and that the increasing availability of non-smoking products such as edibles may prove appealing as well.

In December, 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), 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.

And earlier in September, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2019 Annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the most comprehensive survey on drug use. One of the disturbing findings was that some 699,000 youth aged 12-17 have an addiction to marijuana in 2019 – representing 187,000 new youth with a Cannabis Use Disorder in 2019 versus 2018. Overall, more than 4.8 million people aged 12 or older reported Marijuana Use Disorder in 2019, up from 4.4 million in 2018.

“This data should put to rest the wild claims by drug advocates in New Zealand that somehow – and miraculously – youth use of drugs is going to decline if we legalise cannabis. It is evident to everyone with both eyes open that New Zealand dodged a bullet by voting no in the recent referendum,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

The good news is that in New Zealand, teen use is dropping. In 2019, only 23% of high school students reported having ever using marijuana in their lifetime, dropping from 38% in 2001.
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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.
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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.
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Confirmed: Majority Of NZers Say Nope To Dope

Media Release 6 November 2020
The SayNopetoDope Campaign is welcoming the official result of the referendum on cannabis legalisation which has confirmed that the majority of New Zealanders have said nope to legalising cannabis.

“New Zealand has dodged a bullet by rejecting the legalisation of the recreational use of this drug. At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, legalising and legitimising a mind-altering and addictive drug would have simply added to social harm,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

“The report on cannabis legalisation by BERL admitted that pot shops would have become as noticeable in number as fast food outlets, that the black market would continue, and that usage would increase by almost 30% – and especially amongst the 20-30 age group. This was a wake-up call to most New Zealanders about the reality of legalisation.”

“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 other illicit drug use, and respiratory impairment. In US states that have already legalised the drug, these states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, and sustained marijuana arrest rates.”

“We have always argued that drug use is both a criminal and a health issue. A smart arrest policy can both provide a societal stamp of disapproval and provide an opportunity to intervene and stop the progression of use. Keeping cannabis illegal through an appropriate application of the laws that cater for ‘youthful indiscretions’ and which focus predominantly on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy. But if those with addictions commit serious offences, as does happen, the criminal law cannot simply turn a blind eye. The community still needs to be protected.”

“We fully support the increased provision and funding of drug counselling services, drug treatment centers and drug education programmes in schools. These should remain our preferred ‘smart’ approach to cannabis use. The medicinal cannabis regime should also be reviewed in order to ensure that safe and effective medicines are available by prescription to patients who would benefit.”
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Government’s Lack of Transparency on Dope Debate Misleads Voters

Media Release 16 October 2020
The SayNopeToDope campaign says that the government has not been open and transparent with the advice it has been receiving on the effects of legalising cannabis in New Zealand, meaning that many voters have not had all the relevant information that they need to make a fully informed decision.

The previous BERL report – which the government tried to hide – revealed that pot shops will be as noticeable in number as fast food outlets, and that usage will increase by almost 30% – and especially amongst 20-30 age group. It also confirmed a Big Marijuana industry, based on an annual tax take alone of $1b-plus annually.

This new advice to the government – which the government has also been forced to release by the Ombudsman – states that “there would almost certainly be unintended and unanticipated consequences of legalising cannabis for personal use”, and that “there is insufficient data to understand the medium- to long-term impacts”

“Even health experts are now saying that the Yes campaign don’t want to admit that cannabis use will go up despite the establishment of retail outlets and normalisation of drug use. There has also been little reference to health & mental harm and social costs which will explode with this increased use,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

“Kiwis are most concerned about families, mental health and young people, and the possible effects of legalisation and what it would look like. The government should have released all and any advice they had received on this issue. They didn’t – and that begs the question, why not, and what are they trying to hide from voters.”
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“One of the most visible cases of science denial I’ve seen in decades” – Harvard Professor

Media Release 18 September 2020
A professor of psychobiology at Harvard Medical School says that the cannabis legalisation debate is based on one of the most visible cases of science denial she has seen in decades.

Bertha Madras PhD is a Professor of Psychobiology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; a psychobiologist at the Substance Use Disorders Division, Division of Basic Neuroscience; and Director of the Laboratory of Addiction Neurobiology, McLean Hospital in Massachusetts.

In public policy, Dr. Madras served as Deputy Director for Demand Reduction in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, a Presidential appointment confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. She is also a recipient of an NIH MERIT award, NIDA Public Service Award, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry Founders’ Award, and others.

In this interview with SayNopeToDope’s Aaron Ironside, she explains in simple language:
* what is psychosis, and what about marijuana & psychosis?
* the endocannabinoid system and its role
* are older users also at risk for addiction, psychosis and cognitive impairment?
* is cannabis less harmful than alcohol?
* how dangerous and how potent are edibles? And how significant is potency in general?
* what are the concerns about legalisation and the future?
* when will the negative effects of legalisation be fully realised?

Professor Madras says “It took 100 years of data to really show unequivocally that tobacco caused a series of significant health effects, including lung cancer, cardiovascular disease etc. What we’re doing now is engaging in another human experiment without informed consent, because the advocates are not only not informing the public – in many ways, they’re trying to bury it.”

She concludes: “This is one of the most visible cases of science denial I’ve seen in decades.”

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW

Latest U.S. Govt Data Shows Youth Use & Addiction Increase

Media Release 16 September 2020
Last week, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2019 Annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the most comprehensive survey on drug use.

One of the disturbing findings was that some 699,000 youth aged 12-17 have an addiction to marijuana in 2019 – representing 187,000 new youth with a Cannabis Use Disorder in 2019 versus 2018. Overall, more than 4.8 million people aged 12 or older reported Marijuana Use Disorder in 2019, up from 4.4 million in 2018.

Also, past year and past month marijuana use among youth have increased markedly since legalisation began in several states in 2016. Past month use among youth aged 12-17 increased 14% since 2016 while past year use among the same age group rose 10%.

The report specifically pointed out Colorado’s data, the first state to legalise marijuana, in comparison to national data. Among those aged 18-25, Colorado’s rates of past month, past year, and co-occurring mental illness with marijuana use disorder, were far higher than the national data.

“This latest governmental data puts to rest the wild claims by drug advocates in New Zealand that somehow – and miraculously – youth use of drugs is going to decline if we legalise cannabis,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

This report was released in the same week as a new study by researchers from the University of Queensland which found that if cannabis was legalised in Australia, 1 in 6 Australian adolescents and 1 in 3 Australian young adults who had not used the drug would try or use it.

A new survey released by the state of Colorado just last month found that marijuana use has skyrocketed in the last two years with nearly 21% of young people in the state reporting past month use. Notably, use in young teens (aged 15 and younger) has increased 15.5% from 2017 (the last time data was collected). According to the data, part of the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, since 2017, past month marijuana use among those aged 15 or younger has increased 14.8%, 16 or 17-year-olds has increased 3.0%, and 18 or older has increased 1.9%. Overall, marijuana use amongst all age groups has risen 6.2%.

In Canada, past 12-month use of cannabis among people aged 16 to 19 years was 44% (an increase from 36% in 2018) and those aged 20 to 24 was 51%, (an increase from 44% in 2018), according to Health Canada, 2019.

 

 

Cannabis Youth Use Would Increase If Legalised – Australian Study

Media Release 15 September 2020
A new study by researchers from the University of Queensland has found that if cannabis was legalised in Australia, 1 in 6 Australian adolescents and 1 in 3 Australian young adults who had not used the drug would try or use it.

The study included 3,052 youths (adolescents aged 12–17 and young adults aged 18–25 years) in Australia who participated in the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

It was estimated that 17% of adolescents would try for the first time (13%) or use (4%), and 32% of young adults would try (15%) or use (17%) cannabis if it were legal. Among those who reported an intention to try it, 85% of adolescents and 59% of young adults had never used cannabis before. These translate to 199,000 and 238,000 potential initiators, respectively.

This would equate to 40,000 adolescents and almost 48,000 young adults in New Zealand who would try cannabis, based on comparable population size of both countries.

The results are comparable to a similar analysis of Monitoring the Future 2007–2011, a national survey of senior students in the USA, which found that 18% of lifetime cannabis users reported an intent to use cannabis more often if it were legal. And a Monitoring the Future survey released in 2018 found that one in four U.S. high school seniors would try marijuana or use it more often if it was legal.

A new survey released by the state of Colorado just last month found that marijuana use has skyrocketed in the last two years with nearly 21% of young people in the state reporting past month use. Notably, use in young teens (aged 15 and younger) has increased 15.5% from 2017 (the last time data was collected). According to the data, part of the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, since 2017, past month marijuana use among those aged 15 or younger has increased 14.8%, 16 or 17-year-olds has increased 3.0%, and 18 or older has increased 1.9%. Overall, marijuana use amongst all age groups has risen 6.2%.

Nationwide, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the 2017-2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) State Estimates in December 2019, which showed that past year and past month marijuana use among 12 to 17 year-olds in “legal” states increased around 3.5%, each from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018. Past year and past month marijuana use among 18 to 25 year-olds increased nearly 4.4% each from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018

In Canada, past 12-month use of cannabis among people aged 16 to 19 years was 44% (an increase from 36% in 2018) and those aged 20 to 24 was 51%, (an increase from 44% in 2018), according to Health Canada, 2019.
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BIG MARIJUANA: More Pot Shops Than McDonalds, Burger King and KFC Combined!

MEDIA RELEASE 9 SEPTEMBER 2020
The Say Nope to Dope campaign says that the reports on cannabis legalisation by BERL has admitted that pot shops will be as noticeable in number as fast food outlets, that the black market will continue, and that usage will increase by almost 30% – and especially amongst 20-30 age group.

“BERL is banking on Big Marijuana. It is clear why the government didn’t want this information in the public domain. This is confirmation that Big Marijuana will replace Big Tobacco if cannabis is legalised,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

There are 167 McDonald’s, 83 Burger Kings and 94 KFC stores nationwide at last count, but the BERL report predicts over 400 weed shops around New Zealand.

The report also predicts that overall use will go up from 14% to 18% (a 30% increase). Significantly, there will be increased use for the 20-25 age group (an at-risk group) and a big increase for the 25-30 age group.

The BERL report confirms a Big Marijuana industry, based on an annual tax take alone of $1b-plus annually.

“That’s a massive turnover based on significant use, with little reference to health & mental harm and social costs which will explode with this increased use,” says Mr Ironside.

“If someone wasn’t thinking of voting no in the referendum, this report will confirm they should be. Kiwis don’t care about the fiscal aspect. They care about families, mental health and young people.”
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