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Media Release

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.”

Diverse Group of Top Researchers and Scientists Send Joe Biden Letter Commending Pro-Science Stance on Marijuana Policy

Media Release SAM-US 15 July 2020
Our additional comment: “..the researchers point out that the marijuana industry, which profits off the promotion and sale of high potency candies, concentrates, and vapes, has taken advantage of vulnerable communities, using Denver as an example — which has an average of one marijuana storefront for every 43 residents of color in minority neighborhoods. On this, the researchers conclude that “communities historically impacted by biased policing through marijuana enforcement must be built up through targeted criminal justice reform, not billionaire-backed pot shops.”

Today, a broad, diverse group of renowned scientists, led by the first Black United States Magistrate Judge and researchers from Johns Hopkins and Harvard Medical School, sent a letter to former Vice President and current presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, commending him for his unwavering commitment to a well-reasoned approach to marijuana policy.

The researchers, members of the Science Advisory Board for Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) — the largest, national, non-partisan policy group dedicated to offering science-based alternatives to marijuana commercialization — have vast experience in the fields of science, medicine, and addiction that drive them to promote science in the discussion on marijuana policy.

“Science, not politics, must guide our drug policy decisions,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM and a former three-time White House drug policy advisor. “Marijuana commercialization would only financially benefit a handful of wealthy investors and saddle disadvantaged communities in our country with further addiction.”

The letter, sent just days after the Biden-Sanders Taskforce did not put marijuana legalization into the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign platform, outlines the preponderance of data supporting Vice President Biden’s contention that marijuana is a harmful substance.

Furthermore, the researchers point out that the marijuana industry, which profits off the promotion and sale of high potency candies, concentrates, and vapes, has taken advantage of vulnerable communities, using Denver as an example — which has an average of one marijuana storefront for every 43 residents of color in minority neighborhoods. On this, the researchers conclude that “communities historically impacted by biased policing through marijuana enforcement must be built up through targeted criminal justice reform, not billionaire-backed pot shops.”

In closing, the researchers stated that they “applaud and appreciate your science-based approach that is equally cognizant of legitimate concerns regarding social justice and marijuana-policing. We hope you will continue to uphold these important standards and thank you for your steadfast commitment to public health.”

The letter is signed by the following individuals:

Judge Arthur L. Burnett, Sr.
First Black United States Magistrate Judge
Executive Director, National African American Drug Policy Coalition

Hoover Adger, Jr, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Adolescent Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Eden Evins, M.D., M.P.H.
Cox Family Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Founding Director, Mass General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine

Sion Kim Harris, Ph.D., C.P.H.
Co-Director, Center for Adolescent Behavioral Health Research
Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Jodi Gilman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School

Christian Thurstone, M.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colorado, Denver

Kimber P. Richter, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor and Director, UKanQuit
KUMed Hospital Tobacco Treatment Service

Aaron Weiner, Ph.D.
ABPP Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Yifrah Kaminer, M.D., M.B.A.
Professor of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Injury Prevention Center

Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D.
Institute for Emerging Health Professions
Thomas Jefferson University

Christine Miller, Ph.D.
Former Research Associate
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

 

Government Slammed For Manipulating Voters in Voting Packs

Media Release 13 July 2020
The Say Nope To Dope campaign is slamming the government for its voting pack on the cannabis referendum, and is seeking legal advice.

“We’ve been contacted by a number of families who believe that the government pamphlet is putting their own spin on the proposed change to our cannabis laws through propaganda,” says Aaron Ironside, spokesperson for the Say Nope To Dope campaign.

“The government tries to argue in the pamphlet that “The bill’s purpose is to reduce harm to people and communities” – but that is a highly subjective statement. That is purely the view of those proposing change. Those against the legislation are arguing that legalisation will lead to more harm to people and communities. Why has that opinion not been included?”

“The government should be remaining completely independent on this referendum and the information they’re providing to voters, but they are showing their true colours. They have already hinted at this by not asking the simple question in the referendum “Do you want cannabis legalised for recreational use?” which is what the referendum should really be about. Instead they have loaded the question with putting the wording of a proposed bill which includes words like ‘control’ – also a highly dubious claim.”

“The government should be impartial, but this pamphlet has confirmed their pro-cannabis legalisation stance.” 

The Say Nope To Dope campaign is now seeking legal advice, and will be also making an official complaint to the Electoral Commission.
ENDS

Land Users Group Calls out Greens on Cannabis Environmental Harms

Media Release 7 July 2020
The Primary Land Users Group (PLUG) representing a cross-section of forestry, dairy, horticulture and dry-stock land-users has called out the Green Party, asking how they can reconcile their desire for legal cannabis with the negative environmental effects from cannabis cultivation.

In a media release, they’ve highlighted the experience of overseas jurisdictions where there has been erosion, river diversion, and habitat destruction from large grows, and say that the Greens “are quite vocal about blaming agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels for the country’s GHG emissions but it seems, taking the USA consumption as an example of the likely effects from legalisation in NZ, that logic does not come into their thinking – it is just about self-satisfaction.”

They also highlight concerns around “the case of pollution with the use of chemicals, which are often used to kill rodents which may damage the crop. These chemicals make their way into the sewage system and into our water supplies. They also make their way into the food chain, and can pose significant health risks to predators,” and that in Colorado, the “voracious energy consumption of growers is rubbing up against the city’s ambitions of cutting greenhouse gases.” They also say that “producing just a couple of pounds of weed can have the same environmental toll as driving across America seven times.”

In their concluding statements, they warn; “The legalisation of recreational or medicinal marijuana in eight states including California, Florida and Massachusetts, means some of the nation’s hard-earned progress towards climate change solutions is on the chopping block as regulators continue to ignore this industry’s mushrooming carbon footprint.”

SayNopeToDope campaign spokesperson Aaron Ironside says “The full effects of the industry on the natural environment are only just beginning to be recognised. These impacts occur even under a so-called “regulated” environment, as the vast amounts of water and electricity needed to power marijuana farms are damaging to the environment. One average kilogram of final product is associated with 4600 kg of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. According to research published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, cannabis cultivation consumes 5.2 MWh/y/kg of electricity and produces roughly 4.6 metric ton of CO2/kg of product.”

“If the Greens really want to protect the environment and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, then they should not be pushing for introducing the cannabis industry into New Zealand which may lead to environmental harms.” 

READ MORE https://saynopetodope.org.nz/not-so-green/

Higher Risk on Roads if Cannabis Legalised – Road Transport Forum

Media Release  3 July 2020
The Road Transport Forum has sent a warning about the higher risks on roads – and to New Zealand truck drivers in particular – and the danger of higher insurance premiums if cannabis is legalised in New Zealand.

Nick Leggett who is the CEO of the Road Transport Forum has written in transporttalk that the Road Transport Forum “believes the Bill, as drafted, gives no consideration to the principle of safety – on the road and in the workplace. We all share the roads – that’s pedestrians, cyclists, car and truck drivers – and everyone wants their loved ones to come home from work each day.”

Leggett writes “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. When households and businesses are already managing tight finances, they shouldn’t be surprised by expenses that should be made clear up front.”

SayNopeToDope campaign spokesperson Aaron Ironside says “The Road Transport Forum is right to be concerned. The rights of people to be safe on the road outweighs the right to smoke cannabis. If a person has THC in their system, we don’t want them on the road endangering other drivers and families. Since recreational marijuana was legalised in Colorado, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 151%, and doubled in Washington state. A quarter of Canadians aged 18-34 have driven after consuming cannabis or have been a passenger with someone who has, and a Colorado survey in 2018 found 69% of marijuana users have driven under the influence in the past year, and 27% admitted to driving high almost daily. A New Zealand study found that habitual users of marijuana have about 10 times the risk of car crash injury or death compared to infrequent or non-users.

Leggett concludes his article with the statement “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 BACKGROUND & RESEARCH: https://saynopetodope.org.nz/driving-stoned/

NZ’s ‘Vote NO’ Campaign Is a NZ-Funded Effort

Media Release 30 June 2020
New Zealand’s Vote No campaign is rubbishing claims that the Vote NO campaign is being bankrolled by or controlled by US organisations.

“An alliance of community organisations and leaders (including ex-addicts, educators, ex-police, addiction counsellors, health professionals and community workers) have joined together to form Smart Approaches To Marijuana NZ (SAM-NZ), and will work together to oppose any attempt to legalise cannabis in New Zealand in the upcoming referendum. We’re pleased to have such a wide-ranging group of organisations and experts from all areas of society to come together to argue against legalising the recreational use of cannabis, based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

“Yes, the coalition is drawing on research and resources from prominent US group SAM which is led by Dr Kevin Sabet, a former advisor to three U.S. presidential administrations (Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations) – the only drug policy staffer to have ever served as a political appointee in a Democrat and Republican administration.”

“SAM’s Staff and Science Advisory Board is composed of world-recognised experts in research, addiction, and treatment who work tirelessly to advance public health and safety, and stand up to a powerful marijuana industry.”

“However, we reiterate that SAM in the US are not telling our coalition how to run our campaign, and have not contributed one cent to it.”

“What we are doing is drawing on the expertise and experience of a group that has watched the outcomes of legalisation in many US states. This is no different to groups like the Drug Foundation inviting people like Deborah Small, executive director of Break the Chains (USA), and US activist & author asha bandele (shown right) – both who attended a symposium attended by Andrew Little and Chlose Swarbrick in the Parliament buildings.”

SAM-NZ

(Smart Approaches To Marijuana NZ) 

Aaron Ironside                        Spokesperson: SAM-NZ

Pat Buckley                             Amped4Life Trust

Shk Shaakir Ismail                   New Zealand Muslim Association

Pat Walsh                                Secondary School Principal, former head of a Principal’s Ass’n
Rev Pane Kawhia                     Anglican Minister, Ruatoria

Christine Rankin                      Transforming Justice Foundation

Dr Ate  Moala                          PACYFIC Trust

Vic Tamati                               Community Worker

Mo McLeary                            Drug Free Ambassadors

Dr Andreas Leinfellner            Paediatrician.

Kirk Hardy                               The Drug Detection Agency

Alli Axford                               Drug Free World

Mazin  Al-Salim                       Working Together Group (WTG)

Sully Pa’ea                               Community Worker – South Auckland

Maureen MacDonald              Drug-ARM Wellington

Wayne Mulqueen                   Focus on the Family NZ

Jess McVicar                           Sensible Sentencing Trust

Dave Pizzini                             Ex-Police (Detective Senior Sergeant)

Bob McCoskrie                        Family First NZ

Darryl Wesley                         Health Professional

Stuart Caldwell                       Get Smart (Tauranga)

Brendon Warne                      Anti-P Ministries

Alan Vink                                 LeadershipWorx

Dale Kirk                                  Methcon

Stuart Lange                          NZ Christian Network

Nick Tuitasi QSM                     Pacific Wave

John Subritzky                         Promise Keepers

Rob Nordstrom                       Rubicon Alcohol & Other Drug

Gaylene Fraser                        Drug Free World

Karrin  Coates                         Sensible Sentencing Group Trust

Greer Keane                            Te Ata Rangi Rangatahi

Glenn   Dobson                        International Board Member – National Drug and Alcohol

Screening Association (NDASA)

Gayann Phillips                       NZ Christian Network

Christina Stroud                      World Federation Against Drugs

Ismail  Waja                            Working Together Group (WTG)

Bruce Couper                          Ex-Police

Phil Paikea                              Community Worker

Trevor Turner                         Drug Free World

Imraan Ali                               New Zealand Muslim Association

Ronji Tanielu                           Community Worker

Allan Va’a                                Community Worker – South Auckland

Bev Adair-Beets                      Youth Advocate

Piripi Rakete                            Drug Free World

Dr Kevin Sabet                         SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

Luke Niforatos                        SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

Police Association Raises Significant Concerns of Legalising Cannabis

Media Release 12 June 2020
An analysis by the Police Association of the cannabis referendum and the possible legislation that would result from legalisation has raised significant concerns around continued gang presence and difficulties in enforcement.

In the article in the June edition of Police News, concerns raised by the Police Association include:

  • Difficult for voters to understand the legislation
  • Limiting potency will simply empower the gangs
  • Mixed messaging around enforcement
  • Police will be open to accusations of bias or inconsistency
  • Home grows will be difficult to police – and difficult to tell the difference between home grow and dealer
  • The proposed controls will result in gangs remaining significant players

With the help of senior lawyers, the SayNopeToDope campaign has also analysed the proposed legislation. Our 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
  • significant concerns around workplace impairment
  • contradicts our SmokeFree 2025 policy

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

Coalition member and ex-Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Pizzini says “The biggest irony of the proposed legislation is that cannabis is actually a driver of crime and road trauma. Why would we open the floodgates on a substance that is harmful to young people, workplace safety, and our already overloaded mental health services.”
ENDS