Category

Media Release

Cannabis NO Campaign Announces Spokesperson

Media Release 3 June 2020
Aaron Ironside is the new spokesperson for the Say Nope To Dope campaign.

Aaron Ironside rose to prominence in the 1990’s as the anchor of Radio Hauraki’s popular Morning Pirates breakfast show. The young rock DJ fully embraced the Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll lifestyle that accompanied his new-found fame. Aaron quickly turned his occasional marijuana use into a daily habit that consumed his life. In time, he realised that his drug addiction was now affecting his mental health, exacerbating his symptoms of anxiety and depression.

In 1998, Aaron quit the high-profile job and decided to deal with his drug problem. Once clean he began working in the Not-For-Profit sector, putting his Masters Degree in Psychology to work. In 2012 he started A.I. Counselling and Coaching helping hundreds of clients find freedom from many different types of addiction and substance abuse.

Aside from his personal experience with cannabis, Aaron has witnessed the devastation the drug causes to vulnerable families during his work with a community group in Manurewa. The systemic damage that addiction creates was clearly seen in the poverty, crime and mental health outcomes for the Maori and Pasifika families who engaged with the organisation.

Although himself drug-free for over 20 years, some extended family members continue to struggle with the grip Cannabis has over their lives. Aaron is passionate about protecting them from further harm, and helping New Zealand pursue programs and legislation that will benefit all sectors of society.

The Say Nope to Dope campaign is a group of concerned organisations and individuals who oppose any attempt to decriminalise or legalise marijuana. The group will be officially launched in the coming weeks.

Support For Legalising Cannabis Continues To Drop – Poll

Media Release 29 May 2020
A new poll – the first to be taken after the proposed bill to regulate cannabis was published by the Government – reveals that support for legalising cannabis for recreational use continues to drop.

The survey by Curia Market Research shows that 50% of New Zealanders said they plan to vote against legalisation, and only 35% are planning to vote in favour. 15% are undecided or wouldn’t say. Ignoring the undecided voters, the potential result is 59% against and 41% in favour. Strongest opposition comes from men, older voters and National voters. Labour voters appear split on the issue.

This polling is consistent with previous polling on the issue. The Horizon Research poll shows support for legalising has plummeted from 60% late 2018 to just 39% in 2019. This is a similar trend to the 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll (39% support, down from 43%), and the Newshub-Reid Research Poll (41.7% support).

“We’re stoked that our messaging and our SayNopeToDope campaign is getting through to families. It is clear that while Kiwis strongly support a compassionate response to those in real need with a cautious and researched approach around cannabis medicine, when they thoughtfully consider the real implications of legalising recreational use, they completely reject the proposal – and rightly so.”

Evidence shows that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. In US states that have already legalised the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashesyouth marijuana use, and costs that far outweigh tax revenues from marijuana. These states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, sustained marijuana arrest rates, and tobacco company investment in marijuana.

“At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, why would we go and legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm?”
ENDS

Today’s cannabis increases health harms – new study

Media Release 28 May 2020
A new study just published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry has found that the use of high-potency cannabis was associated with a significant increase in the frequency of cannabis use, likelihood of cannabis problems, and likelihood of anxiety disorder.  In addition, high-potency weed users are more likely to use weed at least once a week, twice as likely to have used illicit drugs within the past 12 months, and more than three times as likely to be tobacco smokers.

The study involved more than 1,087 UK residents who reported marijuana use in the past year, using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

The researchers say that this study provides the first general population evidence suggesting that the use of high-potency cannabis is associated with mental health and addiction.

Significantly, the study defined high potency as “typically ≥10% THC”. According to the proposed New Zealand legislation, THC levels (the psychoactive chemical in cannabis) are initially set at 15% THC for smoking.

This is significantly higher than the Woodstock Weed of 2-4%. But as we know, when the potency is limited, this will simply empower the black market and the gangs who will provide high-THC products demanded by users.

“This latest study simply reinforces what we already know. 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.”

“At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, why would we go and legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm?”
ENDS

Proposed Cannabis Law Fails Public Health & Safety Test

Media Release 20 May 2020
With the help of senior lawyers, the SayNopeToDope campaign has analysed the proposed legislation – Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill – that would be introduced if NZ’ers voted to legalise the recreational use of cannabis in the upcoming referendum.

The 4-page summary, Analysis – Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, highlights significant concerns around:

  • home grows, and the large quantities that can be grown
  • consuming drugs at home in front of children and young people
  • high quantities of purchase and possession
  • age restrictions which will be difficult to enforce, as already evidenced by tobacco & alcohol
  • home production of edibles and dabbing e.g. butane hash oil (already an issue in NZ and overseas)
  • restrictions on potency which will be difficult to enforce and will empower the black market
  • difficulties for councils to ban pot shops in their local areas
  • increased regulation which will mean increased demand for policing (rather than a reduction as argued)
  • education and prevention is mentioned, but only in relation to use
  • contradicts our SmokeFree 2025 policy

The analysis is also available online https://saynopetodope.org.nz/2020/05/01/control/

This follows up the earlier resource presenting 20 reasons for New Zealanders to vote no in the upcoming referendum20 Reasons to Vote NO in 2020”.

“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.”

“At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, why would we go and legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm?”
ENDS

Government Buying A Yes Vote in Cannabis Debate?

Media Release 10 May 2020
The SayNopeToDope Campaign says that if the NZ Drug Foundation is receiving further significant funding from the Government, on top of what they already receive, they should not be the lead organisation promoting a Yes vote in the cannabis referendum.

“This will be a direct conflict of interest when the Drug Foundation are promoting the legalisation of cannabis – as well as the decriminalisation of all other drugs including meth, cocaine and heroin – and the taxpayer is having to fund them at the same time,” says a spokesperson for the SayNopeToDope campaign.

“It will open up the Government to accusations of ‘buying’ a yes vote and a change of law.”

“In a strong democracy, lobbyists and lawmakers should be at arm’s length – especially with a major vote on an issue about to happen.”

“Either the Drug Foundation takes government funding and removes itself from leading one side of the debate, or it rejects the funding and focuses on lobbying for the liberalisation of drug laws.”

“But it can’t do both.”
ENDS

NEW RESOURCE: 20 Reasons to Vote NO to Cannabis

Media Release 4 May 2020
As the debate on legalising cannabis for recreational use heats up, a new resource presents 20 reasons for New Zealanders to vote no in the upcoming referendum.

20 Reasons to Vote NO in 2020” include:
* potency – today’s marijuana is a different, harder drug
* dope is addictive and harmful – It wrecks lives
* laws work – the illegal status deters people from using
* legalising cannabis while promoting health is hypocritical
* driving stoned will put everyone at risk
* promises of a tax windfall are grossly overstated
* workplace dope use will put everyone at risk
* legalisation of marijuana is just the start
and many more.

The information is available as a 4-page pamphlet for free download. DOWNLOAD HERE. This resource will be distributed widely throughout the country.

“The Government is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of families with the use of the word ‘control’ in the Referendum question, but the overseas experience in every jurisdiction that has gone down this track proves that it will be a public health and safety disaster – just as it was when Big Tobacco was allowed in,” says a spokesperson for the SayNopeToDope campaign.

“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.”

“At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, why would we go and legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm?”

A detailed analysis of the “Cannabis Legalisation And Control Bill” has also been published.
ENDS

Black Market & Drug Advocates Will Be Celebrating Cannabis Bill

Media Release 1 May 2020 
The main beneficiaries of the just-released ‘Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill’ will be drug advocates who hope that the bill will create a smokescreen for the actual outcomes of legalising cannabis, but more importantly the black market who will be celebrating the provisions that will make their product even more valuable – with an increased public demand.

“There are so many flaws in this law which provide false assurances that it’s difficult to know where to start. The Government is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of families with the use of the word ‘control’ in the Referendum question, but the overseas experience in every jurisdiction that has gone down this track proves that it will be a public health and safety disaster – just as it was when Big Tobacco was allowed in,” says a spokesperson for the SayNopeToDope campaign.

“In Canada, just 29% of users buy all of their product legally. Organised criminal syndicates and gangs adapt to changing political and economic environments, because their ultimate goal is not to break the law but to commercialise and exploit human nature. Legalisation is unlikely to see a decrease in any associated criminal activity, and when cannabis is heavily regulated, this simply drives drug users to the black market with its cheaper and higher potency products, and provide a ‘legal’ cover for dealers in the community.”

“In the bill released today, concepts such as ‘education’ and ‘prevention’ are only used in the context of preventing harm from use or over-consumption, and education is mentioned only in the context of addressing harmful cannabis use, and to promote responsible use. The notion of ‘Drug-Free’ is ignored.”

“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.”

“At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, why would we go and legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm?”

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

The government bill proposes:

A MINIMUM PURCHASE AND USE AGE OF 20

  • Research shows that adolescents access alcohol and tobacco primarily through friends and family, not from retailers. Why would cannabis be any different? Given the draft law allows cannabis growing for personal use, it is highly likely that legalisation will result in increased access through young people’s social networks, and through the gangs / black market operating outside their school gate.
  • By legalising the drug, young people will see drug use as normalised, their perceived risk of harm related to drug use will decrease, and their use will increase.

PURCHASE & POSSESSION WOULD BE LIMITED TO 14 GRAMS A DAY PER PERSON

  • That’s a purchase allowance of anywhere from 30–40 joints, every day – per person!
  • You can also legally carry those 30–40 joints at any time.
  • These limits will be virtually impossible to police. Do we stop and search every person?

ANY PERSON WILL BE ALLOWED TO GROW TWO PLANTS FOR PERSONAL USE, AND UP TO FOUR PER HOUSEHOLD – AND ‘SOCIALLY SHARED’

  • The problem with family homes being used as ‘grows’ is that dope dealers will simply stay under the radar with multi-location grows, and children will be exposed to the industry – right in their backyard.
  • Products can easily be diverted to the black market.
  • A dealer could grow up to 9 plants and the fine if caught is between $500 and $1,000. But according to the police, one mature processed plant could be worth approximately $1,000 street value.
  • Home grows are not subject to quality control, potency controls or labelling requirements.
  • “Social sharing” is allowed as long as there is no ‘material benefit’ – but this is not defined, and how is this policed? This simply equates to ‘cash deals’ and ‘under-the-table’ trading.
  • The Police Association have admitted that the legal grow limits would be hard to police.

STRICT CONTROLS AND REGULATIONS ON THE POTENCY OF CANNABIS

  • THC levels (the psychoactive chemical in cannabis) are set at 15% THC for smoking. This is significantly higher than the Woodstock Weed of 2-4%.
  • When the potency is limited, this will simply empower the black market and the gangs who will provide high-THC products demanded by users. 

EDIBLES WILL BE LEGAL

  • Many of these products are targeted at young people. Every other overseas jurisdiction has been engulfed with edibles, either through the legal market (Colorado, California), or through the black market (Uruguay, Canada). The market share of bud has fallen and the market share of THC-infused edibles and THC concentrates continues to rise.
  • Allowing edibles will encourage people to use cannabis who otherwise wouldn’t have – especially young people.
  • Allowing edibles can lead people to consume too much. Because the effect may be delayed, it is harder to judge when to stop.
  • THC concentrate is mixed into almost any type of food or drink – not just gummi bears. The potency of edibles (several times that of an average joint) and their attractiveness to kids have led to serious problems in legalised states.

PROHIBITS CONSUMPTION IN PUBLIC PLACES, LIMITS USE TO PRIVATE HOMES

  • SmokeFree 2025 – but a joint or edible in the home is fine – along with “social sharing” with other users.
  • This sets a terrible example to young people and children about drug use, and risks their welfare if parents and others are under the influence of drugs in the home.

AND LICENCED PREMISES

  • These will be drug venues (cannabis coffee shops) including BYO cafes where cannabis consumption is normalised and effectively encouraged.
  • These venues allow cannabis, cannabis products and accessories.

RESTRICTIONS’ ON MARKETING AND A ‘BAN’ ON ADVERTISING CANNABIS

  • A legalised market simply opens the door to a powerful industry focused on maximising profits, not health.
  • As we know from the past actions of the tobacco industry, any restrictions on the cannabis industry’s ability to advertise their product will either be flouted, lobbied against, or they will look for alternative ways to target their customer base.
  • Faced with limited advertising options, ‘Big Marijuana’ overseas are turning to cannabis ‘influencers’. Advertising agencies use ‘influencers’ with tens of thousands of followers to those with millions of followers in order to dodge regulations, and to market their products.

LIMITS SALE OF CANNABIS TO SPECIFICALLY LICENCED PHYSICAL STORES (NOT ONLINE OR REMOTE SALES)

  • The internet is notoriously difficult to police, and it won’t be difficult for consumers to find dealers with high potency products available for purchase who will flout any regulations.

REQUIRES HARM MINIMISATION MESSAGING IN THE RETAILING OF CANNABIS

  • There is no explanation of what those specifically are – and the cannabis industry (like the tobacco and alcohol industry) will be desperate to understate the harms. For example, there is no mention of psychosis, depression, anxiety or addiction.

ESTABLISHES A STATE LICENCING REGIME THAT ALL STAGES OF THE GROWING AND SUPPLY CHAIN ARE LICENCED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT

  • That means checking every home grow, every user for their age, testing all potencies, all licensed premises, management of associated waste products, offences and penalties for non-compliance – the list goes on. This means that the police will be just as busy – if not busier.
  • The police association are concerned that one of the proposed benefits is to free up police resources, but that is not likely to happen. And if the ‘legalisation and control’ was be to closely monitored, that would put more demand on the police.
  • Tax and pricing could also be a problem. If you can’t drive the price down, that is not going to get rid of the black market.

NO SPECIFIC CONTROLS AROUND VAPING

  • It’s this tiny device that’s quickly taking over cannabis consumption – and young people love it, especially because it’s so easy to hide, and produces little-to-no smell when consumed. You simply screw it into an inexpensive, rechargeable pen and inhale. One recent US study showed increased use by 14-18 year olds of newer forms of consumption – vaping and edibles.
  • The only concern is around emissions from vaping

NO allowance for LOCAL COUNCILS TO HAVE the POWER TO regulate their location – JUST ‘CONSULTATION’

  • Local councils in consultation with their communities should be given the power to control the location of these drug retailers, and the power to ban them altogether, if so desired. This has been left to the Cannabis Regulatory Authority (s16).

There is also no specific legislation around road safety measures, workplace safety and workplace drug testing, and discouraging pregnant mums from consuming.
ENDS

WATCH – Bob McCoskrie v Chloe Swarbrick

On TVNZ1’s Q+A programme on Sunday evening we debated the legalisation of marijuana and the upcoming referendum with Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.

The Greens have negotiated a referendum on this issue as part of the coalition agreement with Labour and NZ First. This is actually a good thing because drug supporters have been hiding behind medicinal marijuana (which we support if it’s controlled and regulated cannabis medicine and not smoked) and decriminalisation. But they’ve now revealed the ultimate goal – legalisation of dope for recreational purposes, and not just this drug but eventually, all drugs.

The SayNopeToDope Campaign is intending to mount a strong education campaign to warn New Zealanders about allowing ‘Big Marijuana’ to come into NZ. We agree – it’s a health issue, and that’s why the legal status of the drug is so important!

 

Cannabis Studies Raise Further Health Concerns

Media Release 11 April 2020
Two important studies released over the past week have further highlighted the health concerns of cannabis and its potential legalisation.

The first, a review and meta-analysis with over 23,000 participants conducted by researchers from Queen’s University in Ontario and the University of Calgary and published in the JAMA Network Open, found that 47% of regular marijuana users experience symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome (CWS) when they cease use of the drug. The study’s authors said that because “many CWS criteria are depression or anxiety symptoms, regular users may seek cannabis to obtain short-term symptom relief, unaware that this use could perpetuate a longer-term withdrawal problem.”

The second, a review of recent research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, states that in the states that have legalised marijuana, prices for the drug have decreased, while use and dependence has increased among adults. Furthermore, the review states that the risk of dependence has risen from around 9% in the early 1990s, to nearly 30% today.

The review also draws a comparison between the tactics of Big Tobacco who worked hard to deny or minimise the evidence between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and Big Marijuana now – and how the cannabis industry and its supporters – including here in New Zealand – work to deny or minimise the evidence showing use of the drug increases the risk of psychosis.

“According to virtually every scientific review, including a 2016 World Health Organisation (WHO) report and a 2017 National Academy of Sciences study, marijuana is addictive and harmful, despite rhetoric from the cannabis industry. Direct associations have been made between the frequency of marijuana use and higher THC potency with the development of mental health issues – psychosis, depression, anxiety, suicidality, reshaping of brain matter, and addiction. Links to lung damage and serious cardiovascular problems have also been found – hypertension, myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Chronic adolescent marijuana use has been correlated with cognitive impairment and a decreased ability to do well in work or school,” says a spokesperson for the SayNopeToDope campaign.

“Drug users should receive all the help they can to overcome their addiction and to become drug-free, but the health, rights and protection of the general public should take precedence over the rights of individuals to get high and who want to normalise drug use in our communities.”
ENDS

Cannabis Briefing – with former NY Times reporter Alex Berenson

If you are a youthworker, church leader, educator, counsellor, or community leader, we want to invite you – and your colleagues – to a special Briefing in February on the upcoming cannabis referendum, and the dangers of legalisation. The presentations and the resources which will be available will help you prepare for the upcoming referendum and the associated discussions which will occur in your organisation, amongst families you work with directly, and in the wider community.

As well as updates from our National Director Bob McCoskrie and our Pasifika Director (and ex-Police) Nick Tuitasi QSM, our special guest is ALEX BERENSON.

Alex Berenson is a former New York Times reporter and award-winning novelist. He attended Yale University and joined the Times in 1999, where he covered everything from the drug industry to Hurricane Katerina and served as a correspondent in Iraq.

Alex is the author of “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence”, released in January 2019.

The book (which will be available for purchase at the Briefings) reveals the link between teenage marijuana use and mental illness, and a hidden epidemic of violence caused by the drug – facts the media have ignored as the United States (and possibly New Zealand) rushes to legalise cannabis. But legalisation has been built on myths – including that marijuana arrests fill prisons; that most doctors want to use cannabis as medicine; and that it is not just harmless but beneficial for mental health. In this meticulously reported book, Alex Berenson explodes those myths. Most of all, THC – the chemical in marijuana responsible for the drug’s high – can cause psychotic episodes. After decades of studies, scientists no longer seriously debate if marijuana causes psychosis. Psychosis brings violence, and cannabis-linked violence is spreading.

Big Marijuana has high hopes for New Zealand, but liberalising cannabis laws is the wrong path to go down if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people. This is not a war on drugs – it’s a defence of our brains. Drug use is a major health issue, and that’s why the role of the law is so important.

We hope you (and any interested colleagues) can attend this important Briefing. Attendance is by registration. See the details below.

There is a suggested koha of $20 to help cover some of our expenses.


VENUES
(attendance by registration only)

AUCKLAND
Monday 17th February 2020, 12 – 2pm (includes light lunch)
LIFE Church, 25 Normanby Rd, Mt Eden

WELLINGTON
Tuesday 18th February 2020, 12 – 2pm (includes light lunch)
Celebration Church, 246 Thorndon Quay, Pipitea, Wellington 

TAURANGA
Wednesday 19th February 2020, 12pm – 2pm (includes light lunch)
Lifezone Church, 7 Oak Lane, Judea, Tauranga

HAMILTON
Wednesday 19th February 2020, 7pm – 9pm (includes light supper)
Te Whanau Putahi (TWP), 37 Oxford St, Fairfield, Hamilton.

CHRISTCHURCH CANCELLED
Thursday 20th February 2020, 10.30am –12.30pm (includes morning tea)
Beckenham Baptist Church, 146 Colombo StreetChristchurch (Parking entrance off Percival Street).

DUNEDIN
Thursday 20th February 2020, 7pm – 9pm (includes light supper)
Caversham Baptist Church, Corner South Road & Surrey Street, Caversham, Dunedin

TO REGISTER:
(Attendance by Registration only)
To register, simply email denise@familyfirst.org.nz with your
Name:
Organisation:
Email:
Phone contact:
Which meeting venue you are wanting to attend:

Registrations close on FRIDAY 14 FEBRUARY (for catering purposes)

FOR MORE INFO AND TO REGISTER:
tel: 09 261 2426
email: admin@familyfirst.org.nz