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Media Release

Illegality Keeps Cannabis Use Low & Decreasing – Youth’19

Media Release 14 August 2020
The SayNopetoDope campaign says that new data from Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey has confirmed that the illegal status of cannabis is keeping young people from experimenting with cannabis in the first place, that students progressing to ongoing and regular cannabis use is very low, but that legalising it would reverse these gains.

While just 23% of students reported ever using marijuana – dropping from 38% in 2001 – only 4.1% were consuming it on a regular basis, much lower than in 2001 when it was 6.5%. The report says that most students do not use marijuana or other drugs. Maori use marijuana on a regular basis at a higher rate (8.5%) than Pakeha (3.3%) and Pacific use (3.6%). However, even Maori rates have dropped from a high figure of 13.9% in 2001. Asian youth use is low.

In contrast, 22% reported binge drinking in the past month, and remains high compared with other countries.

Research published 12 months ago in the New Zealand Medical Journal has shown a long-term decline in the number of secondary school students’ “lifetime cannabis use”, and the proportion using cannabis weekly (or more often) halving. Commentators say that cannabis use among teens is dropping thanks to changing attitudes towards ‘risky behaviours’.

According to the Royal Society Te Aparangi 2019 report, marijuana use, particularly frequent use starting from a young age, can harm mental health and have other negative effects.

“The researchers in this latest study correctly state that ‘there are factors that more directly address substance use and addictive behaviours such as ensuring harmful substances are not available in communities, and adults role modelling healthy choices and not supplying substances’. Legalisation will undo all this great progress by normalising drug use and making it more available and more evident in communities,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

“We support a health-based approach where young users are discouraged from usage and sent a clear societal message that they should be drug-free, while also offering counselling and addiction services to assist them away from drug use. Sometimes this will involve the stigma and coercion of the law.”

These New Zealand stats come at the same time as the state of Colorado has 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 a disturbing development, teens report an alarming increase in their use of ultra-potent pot products in the form of dabs and vapes. More than half of high school students (52%) who use marijuana reported that they dab marijuana to get high – up from 34.4% just two years ago.

In addition to highlighting the increases in dabbing and vaping, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment noted that the percentage of youth who drove after using marijuana more than tripled in two years.  And in states where recreational marijuana has been legalised, teenagers are suffering higher rates of addiction.

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, and found 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.

 

Cannabis Legalisation Is ‘Appropriating Issues Of Systemic Injustice For Personal Gain Profit’

Media Release 12 August 2020
A social justice advocate from Washington DC says that the idea that legalising cannabis is going to deal with systemic injustices and inequalities is naive at best if not outright appropriating issues of systemic injustice for personal gain and personal profit.

The SayNopeToDope Campaign hosted a Facebook event today with interviews of three international experts on cannabis legalisation.

Author, consultant, advisor to three U.S. presidential administrations including Barack Obama, and assistant professor, Kevin Sabet, Ph.D., has studied, researched, written about, and implemented drug policy for more than 20 years. He is currently the President and CEO of SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Professor Mary Cannon is a Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Youth Mental Health in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), and Will Jones III is a Communications and Outreach Associate at Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and Social Justice advocate.

From her research, which includes involvement in the Dunedin longitudinal study, Professor Cannon warned that cannabis is strongly associated with psychotic symptoms and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. In fact, cannabis use is now the most powerful single environmental risk factor for psychotic disorder. Recent studies from Europe have examined the risks associated with high-potency cannabis (defined as greater than 10 per cent THC) and have found that daily users of high potency cannabis have a nine-fold increased risk of developing schizophrenia or another clinical psychotic disorder. But this “psychotogenic” effect is not confined to adolescent-onset cannabis use and appears more linked to frequency of use. In addition, it is not confined to people with a history of psychotic disorder in their family (although they are at high risk and should avoid cannabis).

She concludes that the failure of governments worldwide to control alcohol harms shows that once an addictive substance is legalised and freely available, public health takes a second place to profit.

WATCH THE FULL PRESENTATION

 

The International Evidence on Cannabis – Facebook Event

Media Release 11 August 2020
The SayNopeToDope Campaign is hosting a Facebook event this Wednesday (12th) with three international experts on cannabis legalisation.

Author, consultant, advisor to three U.S. presidential administrations including Barack Obama, and assistant professor, Kevin Sabet, Ph.D., has studied, researched, written about, and implemented drug policy for more than 20 years. He is currently the President and CEO of SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Professor Mary Cannon is a Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Youth Mental Health in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), and Will Jones III is a Communications and Outreach Associate at Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and Social Justice advocate.

Topics covered include social justice with Will Jones, the cannabis industry with Dr Kevin Sabet, and mental health with Professor Mary Cannon.  Spokesperson Aaron Ironside conducts the interviews.

“THE INTERNATIONAL EVIDENCE ON CANNABIS – Social Justice, Big Marijuana, Mental Health”
Wednesday 12 August 2020, 10am
Facebook Live – Facebook.com/SayNopeToDopeNZ

 

Cannabis Use In Pregnancy Linked To A Greater Risk Of Autism

Media Release 11 August 2020
In the largest study of its kind, Ottawa researchers have found that children whose mothers reported using cannabis during pregnancy were at greater risk of autism. According to the study, women who use marijuana during pregnancy have a more than 50 percent greater chance to give birth to a child with autism versus non-users. The study also found the risk for other neurodevelopmental disorders was heightened. The findings were published in the prestigious medical journal Nature Medicine. The research team reviewed data from every birth in Ontario between 2007 and 2012, before recreational cannabis was legalised. The researchers had previously found that cannabis use in pregnancy was linked to an increased risk of preterm birth. 

“Legalisation of marijuana has led to major concerns around pregnant mums using the drug, including as a treatment for morning sickness, and an increase in the number of babies being born THC-positive. This is just one of the many health hazards when you legalise a harmful addictive drug and normalise its use in the community,” says spokesperson Aaron ironside.

Marijuana during pregnancy is on the rise in the US. According to a recent, first-of-its-kind General Advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General, past month marijuana use among pregnant women doubled between 2002 and 2017. Furthermore, marijuana use during pregnancy has been linked to lower birth weight, hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences.

A 2019 study found that marijuana use doubled among pregnant women between 2002 and 2017 and is most common in the first trimester. Past-month marijuana use increased from 3.4 percent to 7 percent among pregnant women overall. The data came from an analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2002 and 2017, which involved nearly half a million women. And a July 2019 study based in California found that the frequency with which women in California use cannabis in the year before and during pregnancy has increased over time, corresponding with increasing acceptance of cannabis use and decreasing perceptions of cannabis-associated harms. The data indicates that cannabis is used differentially and disproportionately by the young, the poor and racial minorities.

A study in the June 2019 edition Journal of the American Medical Association also reported a sharp increase in the number of pregnant women smoking marijuana and an alarming link between cannabis use and preterm births, defined as 37 weeks or earlier. Canadian researchers compared the outcomes of birth by 5,639 mothers who reported cannabis use during pregnancy with 92,873 mothers who said they didn’t use it. The authors concluded marijuana is “likely unsafe” because pre-term births were twice as common in marijuana users vs. non users.

If a woman consumes marijuana while pregnant, their child is more likely to suffer sleep problems as much as a decade later, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study of nearly 12,000 youth. Published in Sleep Health: The Journal of The National Sleep Foundation, the paper is the latest to link prenatal cannabis use to developmental problems in children and the first to suggest it may impact sleep cycles long-term. Those who used marijuana frequently were more likely to report somnolence symptoms (symptoms of excess sleepiness) in their children, such as trouble waking in the morning and being excessively tired during the day.

“These are the health consequences that voters must consider when they consider whether to legalise and normalise drug use. We say it’s not worth the risk.”

New Colorado Data Shows Youth Marijuana Use Increasing

Media Release 4 August 2020
A new survey just released by the state of Colorado has found that marijuana use has increased 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 significantly increased by 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 a disturbing development, teens report an alarming increase in their use of ultra-potent cannabis products in the form of dabs and vapes. More than half of high school students (52%) who use marijuana reported that they dab marijuana to get high – up from 34.4% just two years ago. This is based on surveys of over 53,000 middle and high school students statewide in Colorado last year.

“Dabbing” is a method of inhaling highly concentrated THC (commonly referred to as hash oil, wax or shatter) using a blow torch-heated delivery system commonly referred to as a dab rig. THC is the main high-inducing chemical in marijuana.

The survey results also show a 69% increase in students vaping marijuana in two years. Among high school students who used marijuana in the past 30 days, 34.3% reported vaping it, up from 20.3% in 2017.

In addition to highlighting the increases in dabbing and vaping, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment noted that the percentage of youth who drove after using marijuana more than tripled in two years.  According to the state, 32.4% of youth drove a vehicle after using marijuana in the past month, a statistically significant increase from 9% in 2017.

Other recent research about legal cannabis also reveals a sobering statistic. In states where recreational marijuana has been legalised, teenagers are suffering higher rates of addiction. The study of 505,796 respondents was carried out by researchers from New York University’s School of Medicine. It compared use of the drug before and after legalisation in the US. The proportion of people aged 12 to 17 who reported cannabis use disorder grew from 2.18 percent to 2.72 percent.

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.

  • 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
  • While 23.8% of 12 to 17 year-olds in non-legal states perceive a risk from smoking marijuana once a month, only 17.4% in “legal” states perceive such a risk
  • One study found cases of Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) in young people in “legal” states grew 25% following legalization (Cerda et. al., 2019).

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

“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 and especially our young people should take precedence over the rights of individuals to get high and who want to normalise drug use in our communities.”

Claims on Govt Cannabis Pamphlet Labelled As “Inflated”, “Unrealistic”, “Unachievable” – NZMJ

Media Release 3 August 2020
The claims on the cannabis referendum pamphlet sent to households by the government have been labelled as ‘inflated’, ‘unrealistic’, and ‘unlikely to be achievable’ in the latest edition of the New Zealand Medical Journal. And the proposed bill comes in for scathing criticism from the Auckland University academics who authored the article.

The article “New Zealand’s ‘Cannabis Legalisation and Regulation Bill’: an evidence-based assessment and critique of essential regulatory components towards policy outcomes by Benedikt Fischer and Dimitri Daldegan-Bueno assert that illegal cannabis markets and supply will remain “active and resilient after the implementation of legalisation”, that there is “no reason to assume why young people’s access to cannabis should be expected to decrease in the context of—overall increased—availability of both legal and illegal markets/supply”, and that “legal production, distribution and use is also likely to increase, rather than decrease cannabis ‘public visibility’, and overall societal ‘normalisation’” as a result of any potential legalisation.

Other parts of the proposed legislation also come in for significant criticism:

  • “the age limit is inconsistent with age limits for other legal drug use… [F]or alcohol use—an arguably more hazardous substance, especially for young people—no minimum consumption age exists, and the purchase age for tobacco products is 18 years. Thus, the proposed age limit for cannabis is not scientifically supported but appears rather arbitrary, nor is it consistent or policy-coherent in regards to other, widely used legal substances. Here political considerations appear to have trumped science, with questionable compromising for results.”
  • “limiting cannabis use to private homes, by design, will bring substantial health risk to other parties; it also contravenes longstanding efforts to direct away tobacco smoking from homes.”
  • “‘home-growing’ creates a backdoor that directly undermines these protective safeguards. The restrictions for cannabis ‘home-growing’ are practically impossible for authorities to monitor or enforce (unless accepting inspections to regularly search private homes)… [H]ome-growing facilitates potential and easy access to cannabis products by others (eg, including minors), and so can easily enable cannabis diversion”
  • For retail distribution, it is “unclear how density for legal cannabis retail outlets will be regulated or restricted” and that “despite well-intended public health goals, their operational viability and economic success will naturally depend on and strive for increased volumes of customers and sales.”
  • commercial cannabis industry entities will likely either quickly merge with, or follow the commercial business strategies of large-scale multi-national cannabis, or alcohol and tobacco corporations.”
  • “many cannabis products the legal retail market—for example, for health protections—restricts or bans will remain on offer by illegal sources.”
  • Regarding criminalisation and ‘social justice’, “it is unlikely that the extensive list of new and remaining offenses defined, combined with the likely levels of popular (non-) compliance, will lead to such substantial reductions.” And that “it is unclear whether the practical enforcement of core offenses under legalisation will substantially serve to improve social justice, or rather shift while extending previous discretion and systemic biases under new covers. Conversely, there are key areas where substantially increased, targeted law enforcement would be required to secure legalisation’s essential public health and safety objectives.”

“This is a scathing assessment of the sales pitch that the government has given voters. The government tries to argue through their pamphlet that “The bill’s purpose is to reduce harm to people and communities” – but that is purely the view of those lobbying for change. Those against the legislation are arguing that legalisation will lead to more harm to people and communities, and this latest analysis backs our position,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

“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?”

Legalising Cannabis Will Make Road Riskier – Even With Testing

Media Release 31 July 2020
The SayNopeToDope Campaign is warning that legalisation of cannabis will make our roads more unsafe, and roadside drug testing will do little to mitigate these harms.

“The rights of people to be safe on the road outweighs the right to get high. If a person has THC in their system, we don’t want them on the road endangering other drivers and families. The international research is clear on the harm that legalisation of cannabis will bring to our roads,” says SayNopeToDope campaign spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

In Canada, a quarter of Canadians aged 18 to 34 have driven after consuming cannabis or been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone under the influence of cannabis, in a new survey released in December (2019) by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). 86% of young Canadians said it is important to find alternative ways to get home when they drink alcohol, but only 70% of them believe it is important to do so after using cannabis.

In a study done in New Zealand by six Australian health researchers, it found that habitual users of marijuana have about 10 times the risk of car crash injury or death compared to infrequent or non-users. Those users who crashed had smoked marijuana within three hours of their accidents.”

study in 2017 by the University of Waikato found that nearly half of Kiwi cannabis users don’t think twice about driving after smoking, and that while nearly three-quarters (73.6%) of drinkers had made a decision not to drive after drinking, only 57% of cannabis smokers had made the same call.

And while many factors contribute to pedestrian fatalities, it turns out that US states that legalised marijuana for medical and/or recreational use saw a 16.4 percent surge in such deaths in the first six months of 2017 compared to the first six months of 2016, while nonlegal states saw a drop of 5.8 percent in pedestrian fatalities over the same time.

Since recreational marijuana was legalised in Colorado, marijuana related traffic deaths increased 151%, more than doubling from 55 in 2013 to 138 people killed in 2017. The percent of traffic fatalities that involved drivers intoxicated with marijuana in Colorado rose by 86% between 2013 and 2017, with over one-fifth of all traffic fatalities involving a driver testing positive for marijuana by 2017.

According to AAA, Washington State experienced a doubling in drugged-driving fatalities in the years following legalisation. The number of fatally injured drivers positive for marijuana in the state more than doubled following marijuana legalisation, reaching 17% in 2014. The latest AAA Foundation research (2020) found that between 2008 and 2012 – the five-year period before the drug was legal – an estimated 8.8% of Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes were positive for THC. That rate rose to 18% between 2013 and 2017. In Massachusetts, marijuana is the most common drug found in drivers involved in fatal Massachusetts crashes. Cannabis was found in 175 — 31% — of the 572 drivers involved in fatal crashes from 2013 to 2017, according to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

Nick Leggett who is the CEO of the Road Transport Forum recently wrote in transporttalk: “Already the number of people being killed by drug impaired drivers on New Zealand roads is higher than those killed by drivers above the legal alcohol limit. There have been years and years of media campaigns to stop people drinking and driving, but still they do it. So, what is planned to educate people on taking drugs and driving? Higher risk on the roads automatically means higher insurance premiums across the board – insurance is risk priced and you pay on probability… We don’t want New Zealand’s truck drivers, who are just going about their work delivering all New Zealanders the goods they need, to be the casualty of poorly thought out laws.” 

READ MORE https://saynopetodope.org.nz/driving-stoned/

Cannabis Advocates Wilfully Misleading Public on Medicinal Marijuana

Media Release 30 July 2020
The Say Nope To Dope campaign says that the supporters of cannabis legalisation are wilfully misleading the public when they pretend to be concerned about patients and the use and availability of medicinal cannabis.

“There has been a deafening silence on the drawing out of the ballot of Dr Shane Reti’s medicinal cannabis private members bill which improves access for patients. The government has ignored it, the Greens have said nothing, and the Drug Foundation and Helen Clark are nowhere to be seen, This shows the true agenda of the Yes campaigners for primarily the recreational legalisation of cannabis,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

“Drug advocates have used medicinal cannabis as justification for legalising cannabis – yet when a bill is drawn which could further help achieve their goal, their silence is deafening,”

“This is evidence that their campaign is fraudulent and that they are wilfully misleading the public on this issue. The problem that they have is that if they supported this bill, it would undermine their ultimate goal of legalising cannabis for recreational use. But medicinal cannabis is their smokescreen for misleading the public on the real desire for promoting a yes vote for legalisation.”

“We’re calling on the Yes campaign to drop the façade of their desire to help patients. Their focus is purely on the right of people to use drugs for recreational reasons.”

Workplace Drug Use Will Affect The Safety Of Everyone

Media Release 28 July 2020
The Say Nope To Dope campaign says that despite the sales pitch from the Drug Foundation that employers are overreacting and Andrew Little claiming that cannabis use is already ‘widely available’, employers have every reason to be concerned about attempts to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.

In the US, marijuana legalisation has had serious ramifications for businesses. Increased marijuana availability and use has increased the number of employees testing positive for marijuana in the workforce.

Marijuana is the most commonly detected substance and has the highest drug positivity rate among all other tested substances across the majority of industry sectors in the U.S. (Quest Diagnostics, 2017). Among the top-ranking industries for the highest rates of positive marijuana testing, transportation and warehousing was number one with 33.3%. Meanwhile the construction industry had an average of 26.7% positive marijuana testing (Quest Diagnostics, 2018).

“Contrary to the Drug Foundation’s claims about Canada where legalisation has been only recent and good research not readily available on trends, in the three-year period following legalisation in Colorado and Washington, positive oral-fluid test results for marijuana use increased almost 75%, from 5.1% to 8.9%. Marijuana urine test results in Washington and Colorado are now double the national average,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

One in four marijuana users who are employed admit to getting high at work within the past year, according to a new survey of cannabis consumers in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, three states where recreational weed is legal. Workforce marijuana-positivity rates in all “legal” states but one (Alaska) are above the national average. For example, 2018 positivity rates in Maine (5.0%), Oregon (4.3%), Nevada (4.0%), Massachusetts (3.3%), Colorado (3.0%), California (2.5%), and Washington (2.4%) are higher than the national average (2.3%) (Quest Diagnostics, 2019). Most states that have legalised marijuana show an increasing trend in positivity rates.

Insurance claims have become a growing concern among companies in US states that have legalised marijuana because if marijuana use is allowed or drug testing ignored, employers are at risk of liability claims when a marijuana-related injury or illness occurs onsite. Studies consistently show marijuana users have significantly lower levels of commitment to their work than non-users, and are absent more often. Even when controlling for alcohol use, pot users are 106% more likely to have missed at least one day of work in the last month because they “just didn’t want to be there.”

Ironically, on the NZ Drug Foundation’s website, their fact sheet on driving while high says “For regular smokers, the news is worse. A new study shows that chronic, heavy users of cannabis are not, as one might think, less impaired due to higher tolerance but in fact may be constantly impaired – even for some weeks after ceasing altogether.” (our emphasis added)

Where there is more accessibility there will be an increase in use, whatever substance that is. When something is legal it is the ‘green’ light to use it with no consequences. This is why workplace drug testing acts as a deterrent from this unsafe behaviour.”

Deafening Silence on Bill Which Improves Access To Medicinal Marijuana

Media Release 27 July 2020
The Say Nope To Dope campaign says that the deafening silence on the drawing out of the ballot of Dr Shane Reti’s medicinal cannabis private members bill which improves access for patients shows the true agenda of the Yes campaigners for primarily the recreational legalisation of cannabis.

“Drug advocates like the Greens, the Drug Foundation and Helen Clark have used medicinal cannabis as justification for legalising cannabis – yet when a bill is drawn which could further help achieve their goal, their silence is deafening,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

“This is evidence that their campaign is fraudulent. The problem that they have is that if they supported this bill, it would undermine their ultimate goal of legalising cannabis for recreational use. But medicinal cannabis is their smokescreen for misleading the public on the real desire for promoting a yes vote for legalisation.”

“We’re calling on the Yes campaign to drop the façade of their desire to help patients. Their focus is purely on the right of people to use drugs for recreational reasons.”

We support further quality research into the components of the marijuana plant for delivery via non-smoked forms, with products established as safe, effective and approved and listed by the Ministry of Health to be prescribed via their doctor – with appropriate funding and pricing for patients. Neurologists, palliative care and pain specialists should have a key role in this process.

“Ultimately, the medical profession should be dictating the direction of the medicinal cannabis debate, not marijuana advocates with a hidden agenda.”