Category

Media Release

Support for Recreational Dope Going ‘Up in Smoke’

Media Release 17 August 2019
Family First NZ is welcoming yet another poll showing plummeting support for legalising cannabis in New Zealand.

The Horizon Research poll shows support for legalising has plummeted from 60% last November to just 39%. This is a similar trend to the recent 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll (39% support), 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,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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.

New statistics, collected by the Ministry of Health, show that in 2008 only 192 people were hospitalised with a primary cannabis diagnosis, but by 2018 this had increased by 160% to over 500. Almost 6,000 people over 10 years have been hospitalised. Those suffering from a psychotic disorder due to cannabis (the most common diagnosis) increased from 90 to 226 over the same time period – an increase of 150%. Earlier Ministry of Health figures gained under the Official Information Act show that 73 children (0 – 14 years) have been hospitalised in the past five years either for poisoning or for mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of cannabis.

“When people think about ‘cannabis’, they probably immediately think about the same overused photos by the media of a marijuana plant and a joint being smoked. But legalising marijuana will be far more than that. People will be popping it between classes, sucking on it while driving, drinking it before work, chewing on it while they talk to others, and eating it as a dessert. THC concentrate is mixed into almost any type of food or drink. The potency of edibles (several times that of an average joint) and their attractiveness to kids will lead to serious problems. THC-infused products will include: coffee, ice-cream, baked goods, lolly-pops, fizzy drinks, water bottles, tea, hot cocoa, breath mints & spray, intimate oils, pills, lollies, chewing gum, marinara sauce, baklava, and many more,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Recent polling by Curia Market Research found that 85% think that cannabis use can damage the brains of young people under the age of 25, 81% think that drivers using cannabis are more likely to cause accidents, 63% think that cannabis users aged under 25 are less likely to get a job (only 20% think it makes no difference) and half of NZers think that cannabis usage will increase if restrictions are reduced.

“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?”

Family First is calling on the government to stop wasting time and resources on a referendum and to focus their energies on more pressing issues such as housing, health, education and strengthening families.
ENDS

 

Hospitalisation For Marijuana Continues To Increase

Media Release 14 August 2019
More damning statistics of marijuana hospitalisations in New Zealand are further proof that we should go nowhere legalising cannabis. Family First also says that too many children are being hospitalised for marijuana poisoning and mental harm already, and that this rate will also only increase if the drug is legalised.

New statistics, collected by the Ministry of Health, show that in 2008 only 192 people were hospitalised with a primary cannabis diagnosis, but by 2018 this had increased by 160% to over 500. Almost 6,000 people over 10 years have been hospitalised. Those suffering from a psychotic disorder due to cannabis (the most common diagnosis) increased from 90 to 226 over the same time period – an increase of 150%.

Earlier Ministry of Health figures gained under the Official Information Act show that 73 children (0 – 14 years) have been hospitalised in the past five years either for poisoning or for mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of cannabis. This is over four times the number of hospitalisations compared to synthetic cannabis for the same age group.

“These stats will only worsen if marijuana is legalised in New Zealand and the marijuana industry floods the market with highly potent cannabis concentrates – edibles, dabbing (smoking highly concentrated THC) and vaping – as they have in all other jurisdictions where cannabis has been allowed. This should sound the warning bell that marijuana is absolutely a health issue, which is why the law is so important for protecting public health and safety. A soft approach would be a disaster,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

This is similar to the overseas experience where marijuana has been legalised. The number of teenagers sent to emergency rooms more than quadrupled after marijuana was legalised in Colorado — mostly for mental health symptoms, researchers reported in 2017. The yearly rate of emergency department visits related to marijuana for all ages increased 52%, and hospitalisations increased 148% in Colorado (2012 compared to 2016). A recent study conducted in Colorado also found that following recreational marijuana commercialisation in 2013, marijuana-detection rates significantly increased among traumatic injury patients in Colorado hospitals.

A study conducted in Washington State found that the rate of paediatric exposures to marijuana (children aged 9 or under) was 2.3 times higher following retail sales than it was before legalisation. And in Oregon, for children 5 years or younger, the number rose by 271% from 14 cases in 2014 to 52 cases in 2017.

The latest Colorado toxicology reports show the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana continues to increase. Between 2011 and 2013, 20.7% of suicide victims between the ages of 10 and 19 tested positive for marijuana (compared with 12.7% who tested positive for alcohol). By 2014-2016, 22.4% tested positive for marijuana (compared with 9.3% for alcohol). 

In the UK, 15,000 teenage hospital admissions have taken place over the past five years as a result of taking cannabis – some of whom were rushed to hospital suffering from serious psychosis.

“At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, why would we legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm? It’s patently obvious that legalisation will increase its use, and harm. So-called ‘regulation’ doesn’t change the fact that drugs harm.”

“This is not a ‘war on drugs’ – this is a defence of our brains and health and wellbeing. Legalising a harmful drug like marijuana – or any other drug for that matter – is not a healthy option.”
ENDS

 

National Correct to Oppose Decriminalisation of All Drugs

Media Release 8 July 2019
Family First NZ is welcoming National’s opposition to the decriminalisation of all drugs. The statements in the Select Committee report of the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill echo the exact concerns raised by Family First in their submission regarding the de facto decriminalisation of possession and use of all drugs including cannabis, cocaine, P and heroin.

“Maintaining the illegality of drugs is important because we should continue fighting drugs and the devastation its use causes on both the users, their families, and society in general. Police discretion is already being used by the Police. They say: ‘Officers apply discretion on a daily basis in dealing with a range of matters, including the possession and use of drugs. Applying this discretion increasingly includes the use of alternative resolution options including pre-charge warnings, Te Pae Oranga, and referrals to health and other support services. Our focus continues to be on targeting the organised criminal networks who supply these harmful drugs to our communities. However, the possession and use of illicit drugs remains illegal and prosecution remains an option in order to prevent harm and keep people safe.’ In the 20 years to 2014, the number of arrests for cannabis per 100,000 head of population dropped by 70%.”

“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 all drugs illegal through an appropriate application of the laws that cater for ‘youthful indiscretions’ and which focus on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“But at a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, we should go no further and legitimise mind-altering products which will simply add to social harm?”

“If we listen to drug advocates internationally, there will be further calls for the legalisation of all these drugs. The Drug Foundation has already admitted that it wants to legalise cannabis and decriminalise all other drugs. They have also admitted that their expectation is that Police should never prosecute for possession of drugs. This is a shocking scenario and sends a terrible message to families and communities affected by drug abuse.”

“Maintaining its illegality but using a smart arrest policy combined with the coercion of the law is the correct response to drug use. Drug use is a major health issue, and that’s why the role of the law is so important. This is not a ‘war on drugs’ – this is a defence of our brains.”

Family First

  • supports the intent of the bill to allow consideration (but not requirement) of a health-based approach for certain cases of low-level and/or first-time drug use & possession
  • opposes any change to the legal status of marijuana and other drugs (separate from the Class A drugs proposed in this bill) because of the significant health and addiction issues around recreational drug use, and the need for the law to reflect those and to protect society
  • calls for increases in resources and funding for both drug prevention programmes, and addiction and mental health services

Family First also submitted that a child-centered drug policy is an imperative. Protecting children from illicit drug use is not an option for States / Parties to the United Nations Human Rights Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is an obligation. Therefore, drug policy in NZ must be child-centered, not user-centered.

In a shock poll result released in April, less than 20% (one in five) New Zealanders support legalisation of marijuana, but there is strong support for lifting restrictions for medical use (65%). There is also significant concerns about the mental health and societal costs of cannabis.
ENDS

 

Polls Agree – Kiwis Say Nope To Dope

Media Release 10 June 2019
Family First NZ says that while the polling on preferred political parties is at odds, the polls on legalising cannabis released today are consistently showing a decreasing appetite for legalisation of recreational dope use.

A Newshub-Reid Research Poll shows that 48% oppose legalisation, while 41.7% support it. The 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll shows 52% of New Zealanders are against legalisation and only 39% support it. (Opposition to legalisation has increased by 11 points from their October 2018 poll.)

“It is clear that Kiwis strongly support a compassionate response to those in real need with a cautious and researched approach around cannabis medicine, but when they thoughtfully consider the real implications of legalising recreational use, they completely reject the proposal – and rightly so,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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.

“When people think about ‘cannabis’, they probably immediately think about the same overused photos by the media of a marijuana plant and a joint being smoked. But legalising marijuana will be far more than that. People will be popping it between classes, sucking on it while driving, drinking it before work, chewing on it while they talk to others, and eating it as a dessert. THC concentrate is mixed into almost any type of food or drink. The potency of edibles (several times that of an average joint) and their attractiveness to kids will lead to serious problems. THC-infused products will include: coffee, ice-cream, baked goods, lolly-pops, fizzy drinks, water bottles, tea, hot cocoa, breath mints & spray, intimate oils, pills, lollies, chewing gum, marinara sauce, baklava, and many more. These new products can be delivered rectally, nasally, and vaginally and deliver a quicker high,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Recent polling by Curia Market Research found that 85% think that cannabis use can damage the brains of young people under the age of 25, 81% think that drivers using cannabis are more likely to cause accidents, 63% think that cannabis users aged under 25 are less likely to get a job (only 20% think it makes no difference) and half of NZers think that cannabis usage will increase if restrictions are reduced, 35% think usage would remain the same and 6% decrease.

A recent Canadian federal study found a 27% increase in marijuana use among people aged 15 to 24 over the last year. Additionally, approximately 646,000 Canadians have reported trying marijuana for the first time in the last three months, an amount almost double the 327,000 that admitted to trying the drug for the same time period last year.

“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 the social harm?”
ENDS

More Kiwis Now Saying Nope To Dope – Poll

Media Release 10 June 2019
Family First NZ is welcoming the latest poll on legalising cannabis which shows a decreasing appetite for legalisation of recreational dope use.

The 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll showed 52% of New Zealanders intend to vote against legalisation and only 39% would vote yes. In their October poll last year, only 41% were against and 46% were in favour.

“It is clear that Kiwis strongly support a compassionate response to those in real need with a cautious and researched approach around cannabis medicine, but when they thoughtfully consider the real implications of legalising recreational use, they completely reject the proposal – and rightly so,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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.

“When people think about ‘cannabis’, they probably immediately think about the same overused photos by the media of a marijuana plant and a joint being smoked. But legalising marijuana will be far more than that. People will be popping it between classes, sucking on it while driving, drinking it before work, chewing on it while they talk to others, and eating it as a dessert. THC concentrate is mixed into almost any type of food or drink. The potency of edibles (several times that of an average joint) and their attractiveness to kids will lead to serious problems. THC-infused products will include: coffee, ice-cream, baked goods, lolly-pops, fizzy drinks, water bottles, tea, hot cocoa, breath mints & spray, intimate oils, pills, lollies, chewing gum, marinara sauce, baklava, and many more. These new products can be delivered rectally, nasally, and vaginally and deliver a quicker high,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Recent polling by Curia Market Research found that 85% think that cannabis use can damage the brains of young people under the age of 25, 81% think that drivers using cannabis are more likely to cause accidents, 63% think that cannabis users aged under 25 are less likely to get a job (only 20% think it makes no difference) and half of NZers think that cannabis usage will increase if restrictions are reduced, 35% think usage would remain the same and 6% decrease.

A recent Canadian federal study found a 27% increase in marijuana use among people aged 15 to 24 over the last year. Additionally, approximately 646,000 Canadians have reported trying marijuana for the first time in the last three months, an amount almost double the 327,000 that admitted to trying the drug for the same time period last year. Other concerning trends included 15% of marijuana users got behind the wheel of a car within two hours of using the drug, and daily users were more than twice as likely to believe that it was safe for them to operate a vehicle within three hours of ingesting the drug.

This report comes on the heels of another study finding that the black market in Canada is absolutely thriving, with over 79% of marijuana sales in the last quarter of 2018 occurring outside the legal market – a similar trend to California and Colorado.

“Marijuana is both a law and a public 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 marijuana illegal through an appropriate application of the laws that cater for ‘youthful indiscretions’ and which focus on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“But at a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, we should go no further and legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm?”
ENDS

Due Diligence on Cannabis Harm, Not ‘Fear’ – A response to Alison Mau

Bob McCoskrie asks why an ‘investigative’ journalist is so desperate to shut down a petition calling on an inquiry into the possible harms of cannabis. Mau doesn’t want you to go anywhere near it. What is she scared of? Below is our response. We would encourage you to take a few minutes to read it. The cannabis debate deserves robust and balanced debate. That may be difficult to get with the current NZ media. It is disappointing that the Sunday Star Times refused to allow us the opportunity to respond in full, despite repeated requests. Once you have read it, please take a moment to sign the petition that Alison Mau is so scared of!


24 May 2019
Alison Mau, an ‘investigative’ journalist, is desperate to shut down our petition (“Family First is trying to scare you – don’t fall for it” 19 May 2019) which simply calls for an investigation into a possible link between cannabis and violence – emphasis on ‘possible’.

Firstly, some background. Over the past couple of decades, studies around the globe have found that higher levels of THC – the active compound in cannabis – is strongly linked to psychosis, schizophrenia, and violence. A certain percentage of people who use marijuana can become psychotic and can also become violent.

And with increasing THC levels being found in marijuana products consumed via edibles, vaping, and dabbing, the risk is growing. For example, in Colorado the average THC content of all tested flower in 2017 was 19.6% statewide compared to 16.4% in 2014. The average potency of concentrated extract products has increased steadily to THC content 68.6% at the end of 2017. Potency rates of up to 95% have been recorded and today can be as high as 99.9% THC.

Researchers have studied alcohol and violence for generations, proving that alcohol is a risk factor for domestic abuse and assault. Far less work has been done on cannabis.

And that’s effectively the work that we’d like to see done – before we move to legalise it.

We would argue that the evidence is already building.

A just-published study in The Lancet concluded that “people who smoked marijuana on a daily basis were three times more likely to be diagnosed with psychosis compared with people who never used the drug. For those who used high-potency marijuana daily, the risk jumped to nearly five times.”

Last year, researchers at Ohio and Tennessee Universities found that marijuana use was associated with psychological, physical, and sexual intimate partner violence. A University of Florida study published in The Journal of Interpersonal Violence in 2011 found that frequent marijuana users in adolescence are twice as likely to engage in domestic violence as young adults. You would think this would draw attention from Mau.

Research published in 2016 in the journal Psychological Medicine concluded that continued cannabis use is associated with 7-fold greater odds for subsequent commission of violent crimes.

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.

As with all research, of course there are limitations in the studies mentioned above. But those same limitations also apply to studies which say there is no association.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) summed up the issue in their 2012 report, saying that THC content and the potency of cannabis have been increasing over the past 30 years, and that this can increase psychotic symptoms in regular users.

Here in New Zealand, just last year, a man who stalked several women during a 24-hour drug-induced psychosis left one of his victims with “a lasting fear”. He lost his job after failing a drug test and then embarked on a four-day cannabis binge. The judge said that resulted in a psychosis.

Earlier this month in California, Bryn Spejcher, an employed, well-educated 28-year-old with no criminal record or history of mental illness appeared in court accused of stabbing her boyfriend to death — after smoking pot for the first time. The coroner testified that the victim had been stabbed 108 times, from his head to his knees, cutting his trachea, jugular vein and carotid artery and perforating his heart twice. A forensic scientist from the crime lab confirmed that no drug other than THC was present in Bryn’s blood and no drug other than THC was found in the bong.

Paranoia and psychosis can make some people dangerous, so a rising use of a drug that causes both would be expected to increase violent crime, rather than reduce it as drug advocates might claim.

Here in New Zealand, we know from a number of governmental reports (UNICEF reports in 2003 and 2007, a CYF report in 2006, and a Children’s Commissioner report in 2009) that one of the factors most commonly associated with the maltreatment of children is drug abuse.

Last year, Texas released its report on child abuse deaths, finding half the 172 child abuse deaths in 2017 coupled with substance abuse.  Marijuana was the most-used substance connected to child abuse and neglect deaths, followed by alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine. In 2017, Arizona also published a report showing that marijuana was the substance most often linked to child abuse deaths.

But it is the most recent study that we should sit up and take notice of. The paper “Cannabis use and violence in patients with severe mental illnesses: A meta-analytical investigation” published last month is the most comprehensive survey yet on the issue. Findings showed a moderate cannabis-violence association in severe mental illness. What’s also striking is how recent most of the papers examined are – 10 of the 12 papers are in the last decade, and 7 of the 12 since 2016.

Mau contacted Otago University associate professor Joseph Boden – the Deputy Director of the superb Christchurch Health and Development study. So did I. Boden is in favour of some form of legalisation. In our respectful phone discussion, we both agreed that high-THC cannabis would increase the risks.

He argued that a regulated legalised market in New Zealand would keep this risk down by limiting THC levels. It’s a nice theory, but I’ve been to Colorado and California. Regulation simply empowers a black market – as is being seen in Colorado, California, and now Canada.

Mau also relies on comments from Ziva Cooper from the Cannabis Research Initiative at UCLA, where she works, solicits and takes money from cannabis users and investors in the industry. Insys, the company with which she collaborated from 2015-2018, is a poster child for terrible behaviour in the opioid crisis.

Mau also refers to ‘the scientific community’ of 75 academics and medical professionals who wrote an open letter opposing the premise of our petition. She forgot to mention the lobbyists from NORML and the Drug Policy Alliance in that list.

She also conveniently left out the bit that the signatories reiterated “their support for an end to marijuana prohibition and for the legal regulation of marijuana for adult use.

Ironically, Mr Boden told me he used to live in Massachusetts. Just this month, more than 40 clinicians, researchers, scientists, and other public health professionals from Massachusetts, including many from Harvard Medical School, released a Statement of Concern, highlighting negative effects of THC, including “Increased risk of serious mental health problems including acute psychosis (e.g., hallucinations, delusions), paranoia, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and suicide, with growing scientific evidence that daily use of high THC products bring greater risk”. They highlight 2018 research from the Copenhagen University Hospital which found that “41% of those who experience cannabis-induced psychosis later convert to schizophrenia.”

Last month in the liberal state of Vermont, the Department of Mental Health has warned legislators about the mental health implications of a commercial market, stating, “Perhaps the strongest evidence for severe mental health problems related to cannabis use is related to psychosis were multiple studies have linked regular cannabis use to an estimated doubling of the risk of a psychotic illness as well a more refractory course among people with existing psychotic illness. Violent behavior as a result of cannabis induced paranoia and other psychotic symptoms is also an increasing concern.”

 In Maryland, neuroscientist and author of “The Impact of Marijuana on Mental Health in: Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana” Christine Miller warned legislators last month, “The causal link between marijuana use and the development of psychosis is quite simply the most well-replicated, high-impact finding in schizophrenia research today. Given current use rates and the strong potency of the drug available, it stands to be responsible for a larger proportion of schizophrenia cases than any other established factor. Who may be at risk cannot be reliably predicted.” 

Here’s the bottom line.

In the same way that there is some real evidence that components of marijuana can be made into medicine, it is based mainly on anecdotal ‘evidence’ that makes us think we should really study it more to isolate components and potentially treat other illnesses with them.

In the same way, there is building scientific evidence suggesting that components of the plant can lead to mental illness, at times severe, that can lead to violence. There is already anecdotal ‘evidence’ that higher THC-levels can lead to violence.

We are simply asking for research and scientific consensus before moving forward as a country with a change this massive. We believe this to be a responsible and thoughtful way to move forward.   

But Mau doesn’t want you to go anywhere near it. What is she scared of?

Petition Calls For Inquiry Into Cannabis & Violence

Media Release 13 May 2019 
A petition has been launched which is calling for an urgent Inquiry into the possible link between cannabis and violence. As calls for the legalisation of cannabis grow ever louder, and with the upcoming referendum on legalisation in 2020, the petition asks the government to first investigate the possible link between cannabis and violence.

“Over the past couple of decades, studies around the globe have found that THC – the active compound in cannabis – is strongly linked to psychosis, schizophrenia, and violence. A certain percentage of people who use marijuana can become psychotic and violent. It raises an important question – is our relatively higher use of cannabis compared to other countries related to our horrific record when it comes to child abuse and family violence?” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“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 cannabis.”

The petition has already gained almost 1,400 signatures since launching over the weekend.

In 2018, researchers at Ohio and Tennessee Universities found that marijuana use was positively and significantly associated with psychological, physical, and sexual intimate partner violence, after controlling for alcohol use and problems, antisocial personality symptoms, and relationship satisfaction. The researchers say that treatment of men arrested for domestic violence should consider reducing their marijuana use.

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.

Research published in 2016 in the journal Psychological Medicine concluded that continued use of cannabis causes violent behaviour as a direct result of changes in brain function that are caused by smoking weed over many years. The results showed that continued cannabis use is associated with 7-fold greater odds for subsequent commission of violent crimes.

A University of Florida study published in The Journal of Interpersonal Violence in 2011 found that frequent marijuana users in adolescence are twice as likely to engage in domestic violence as young adults.  The same study showed this group were more than twice as likely to become a victim of domestic violence. The researchers said “These findings have implications for intimate partner violence prevention efforts, as marijuana use should be considered as a target of early intimate partner violence intervention and treatment programming.”

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.

A 2002 study in BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) found that people who used cannabis by age 15 were four times as likely to develop schizophrenia or a related syndrome as those who’d never used. Even when the researchers excluded children who had shown signs of psychosis by age 11, they found that the adolescent users had a threefold higher risk of demonstrating symptoms of schizophrenia later on. The study was based on the Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study.

“Some evidence is already appearing in New Zealand. Last year (2018), a man who stalked several women during a 24-hour drug-induced psychosis has left one of his victims with “a lasting fear”. He lost his job after failing a drug test and then embarked on a four-day cannabis binge. The judge said that resulted in a psychosis. In 2017, a man repaid a family who had taken him in by stabbing the mother, a babysitter and their pet dog in a drug-induced rage. The judge said that his consumption of cannabis, which may have been laced unknowingly with methamphetamine, had caused him to attack.”

“Paranoia and psychosis can make some people dangerous, so a rising use of a drug that causes both would be expected to increase violent crime, rather than reduce it as drug advocates might claim.”

Of the four US states that legalised marijuana in 2014 and 2015 – Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Colorado – there was a combined 35% increase in murders in those states from 2013 to 2017, compared with a 20% rise nationally. Washington became the first U.S. jurisdiction to legalise recreational marijuana in 2014. Between 2013 and 2017, the state’s aggravated-assault rate rose 17%, which was nearly twice the increase seen nationwide, and the murder rate rose 44%, which was more than twice the increase nationwide.

“Here in New Zealand, we know from a number of governmental reports (UNICEF reports in 2003 and 2007, a CYF report in 2006, and a Children’s Commissioner report in 2009) that one of the factors most commonly associated with the maltreatment of children is drug abuse.”

In March, Texas released its report on child abuse deaths, finding half the 172 child abuse deaths in 2017 coupled with substance abuse.  Marijuana was the most-used substance connected to child abuse and neglect deaths, followed by alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine. In one terrible case last year, Cynthia Randolph left her 1-year old and 2-year-old in the car while she smoked pot. Both children died.

In 2017, Arizona also published a report showing that marijuana was the substance most often linked to child abuse deaths in 2016.

People can sign the petition at www.CannabisInquiry.nz
ENDS

 

 

Campaign For Nope To Dope Vote Already Making Impact VOTENO.NZ

Media Release 7 May 2019
Family First NZ says that the debate around legalising marijuana is already underway and New Zealanders are quickly realising that while there is an appetite for safe and effective forms of cannabis medicine, there is a decreasing appetite for a soft approach to recreational use.

In the most recent poll, less than 20% (one in five) New Zealanders support legalisation of marijuana, but there is strong support for lifting restrictions for medical use (65%). The polling also found that 85% think that cannabis use can damage the brains of young people under the age of 25, 81% think that drivers using cannabis are more likely to cause accidents, 63% think that cannabis users aged under 25 are less likely to get a job (only 20% think it makes no difference) and half of NZers think that cannabis usage will increase if restrictions are reduced, 35% think usage would remain the same and 6% decrease.

“It is clear that Kiwis strongly support a compassionate response to those in real need with a cautious and researched approach around cannabis medicine, but when they thoughtfully consider the real implications of legalising recreational use, they completely reject the proposal – and rightly so,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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.

Portugal has seen a rise in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco consumption and of every illicit psychoactive substance (affected by the weight of cannabis use in those aged 15-74) in the last five years.”

A Canadian federal study just released found a 27% increase in marijuana use among people aged 15 to 24 since legalisation last year. Additionally, approximately 646,000 Canadians have reported trying marijuana for the first time in the last three months, an amount almost double the 327,000 that admitted to trying the drug for the same time period last year. Other concerning trends included 15% of marijuana users got behind the wheel of a car within two hours of using the drug, and daily users were more than twice as likely to believe that it was safe for them to operate a vehicle within three hours of ingesting the drug.

This report comes on the heels of another study finding that the black market in Canada is absolutely thriving, with over 79% of marijuana sales in the last quarter of 2018 occurring outside the legal market – a similar trend to California and Colorado.

“When people think about ‘cannabis’, they probably immediately think about the same overused photos by the media of a marijuana plant and a joint being smoked. But legalising marijuana will be far more than that. People will be popping it between classes, sucking on it while driving, drinking it before work, chewing on it while they talk to others, and eating it as a dessert. THC concentrate is mixed into almost any type of food or drink. The potency of edibles (several times that of an average joint) and their attractiveness to kids will lead to serious problems. THC-infused products will include: coffee, ice-cream, baked goods, lolly-pops, fizzy drinks, water bottles, tea, hot cocoa, breath mints & spray, intimate oils, pills, lollies, chewing gum, marinara sauce, baklava, and many more. These new products can be delivered rectally, nasally, vaginally or squirted into the eye to reach the bloodstream faster and deliver a quicker high.”

“Marijuana is both a law and a public 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 marijuana illegal through an appropriate application of the laws that cater for ‘youthful indiscretions’ and which focus on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy,” says Mr McCoskrie.

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

Canada Already Showing Troubling Signs From Legalising Dope

Media Release 4 May 2019
A Canadian government study is showing disturbing trends already as a result of legalising marijuana, including increases in youth and overall use, and concerning trends in marijuana-impaired driving and workplace use.

The Canadian federal study released yesterday found a 27% increase in marijuana use among people aged 15 to 24 over the last year. Additionally, approximately 646,000 Canadians have reported trying marijuana for the first time in the last three months, an amount almost double the 327,000 that admitted to trying the drug for the same time period last year.

“These are disturbing trends, especially when considering the effects on mental health, addiction and public safety,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Other concerning trends include:

  • 15% of marijuana users got behind the wheel of a car within two hours of using the drug.
  • daily users were more than twice as likely to believe that it was safe for them to operate a vehicle within three hours of ingesting the drug.
  • 20% of Canadians who reported driving under the influence of marijuana admitted to also consuming alcohol at the same time.
  • about 13%, or half a million, of Canadian workers who are active marijuana users admitted to using the drug either prior to or during work.

This report comes on the heels of another study finding that the black market in Canada is absolutely thriving, with over 79% of marijuana sales in the last quarter of 2018 occurring outside the legal market.

“Canada is quickly finding out that so-called regulation of marijuana does nothing to mitigate the harms of the drug. Legalisation simply exacerbates them. Diane Kelsall, editor in chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, called the new lawa national, uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.“.”

“Canada’s new law on legal marijuana demonstrates that cannabis legalisation is high in promise and expectations, but the reality is far lower. 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. Portugal has seen a rise in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco consumption and of every illicit psychoactive substance (affected by the weight of cannabis use in those aged 15-74) in the last five years.”

“Big Marijuana has high hopes for New Zealand, but liberalising marijuana laws is the wrong path to go down if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people.”
ENDS

 

ASA Rejects Complaint Against Second Cannabis Billboard

Media Release 30 April 2019
Family First NZ is welcoming yet another decision by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) not to uphold a complaint against our SayNopetoDope campaign billboards. The latest billboard says ‘you can’t legalise marijuana and promote mental health’, and is currently displayed at Tip Top corner on the Southern Motorway in Auckland. A previous decision rejected complaints made against our ‘Marijuana has a kids menu’ billboard.

The Complaints Board reiterated their statements from the earlier decision which said that the advertisement “did not contain anything indecent, exploitative or degrading, did not cause fear or distress and was socially responsible” and “it was not likely to mislead consumers.”

“At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, we should go no further and legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm? It’s patently obvious to most people that legalisation will increase its use, and harm,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

The latest study on the effects of marijuana, published in the February edition of JAMA Psychiatry, summarised 11 studies comprising 23,317 individuals. The research said, “the high prevalence of adolescents consuming cannabis generates a large number of young people who could develop depression and suicidality attributable to cannabis. This is an important public health problem and concern.”

This is consistent with the Christchurch Health and Development Study research which has shown that the use of cannabis was 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. These effects were most evident for young (under 18-year-old) users and could not be explained by social demographic and contextual factors associated with cannabis use. Regular or heavy cannabis use was associated with an increased risk of using other illicit drugs, abusing or becoming dependent upon other illicit drugs, and using a wider variety of other illicit drugs.

Research led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (including New Zealand researchers) analysed results of three large, long-running studies from Australia and New Zealand involving nearly 3,800 people. Teenagers who start smoking cannabis daily before the age of 17 are seven times more likely to commit suicide, the study found.

Colorado toxicology reports show the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana has increased since the legalisation of marijuana. This disturbing trend is, unfortunately, not surprising, as daily marijuana use among youth who begin before the age of 17 significantly increases the risk of suicide attempts.

“Drug use is a major health issue, and that’s why the role of the law is so important. This is a defence of our brains and mental well-being. The public of New Zealand are not getting this information. Our billboards are designed to raise these inconvenient truths – and to provoke debate and discussion.”
ENDS