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Media Release

Changes To Marijuana Laws Should Now Stop

Media Release 11 December 2018
Family First NZ says that with the cannabis medicine bill being passed today, it is now time for politicians to move on from the issue and not to make any further changes which liberalise the law or legitimise and normalise the use of dope in the community as strongly lobbied for by groups such as the Greens and the Drug Foundation.

Family First is also calling for strong monitoring and research around the unintended consequences of allowing medicinal marijuana with the regulations yet to be determined, and the potential for societal harm.

“Groups like NORML and other marijuana advocates have used medicinal marijuana as a smokescreen and to manipulate society’s compassion for people with serious pain and health concerns. But marijuana can then be diverted from medical programs to ‘recreational’ purposes. A recent study examining recreation and reported medicinal users of cannabis found that 86% of those reporting medicinal use also used cannabis recreationally,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“We absolutely support a compassionate response to those in real need, but any legislation on cannabis medicine should be based on legitimate and responsible scientific research on the potential benefits and risks of medical cannabis. The Green’s earlier private members bill completely failed the test in terms of public health, public safety, and protecting our young people and the politicians were right to steer clear of it – but the bill passed today has major flaws. No other medicine is lit up and inhaled. We need to say no to ‘medicinal marijuana’, and yes to ‘medicinal cannabinoids’ products.”

“But it is now time for politicians to say ‘enough’. At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, why would we go 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.”

“If we listen to drug advocates internationally, there will be calls for legalisation of not just this drug but all drugs – cocaine, heroin, P. The Drug Foundation has already admitted that it wants to decriminalise these drugs! This is a shocking scenario.”

A study released in 2017 in the US and published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that marijuana use and marijuana use disorders – in which people use the drug in unhealthy or abusive ways – increased at a “significantly greater rate” in states with medical marijuana laws than in states without the laws. The lead researcher from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health said that these laws seem to send a message that use of this drug is safe and acceptable in some way.

In a recent article in the Journal of the NZ Medical Association, the authors – both addiction psychiatrists – said that the discussion between the legal framework of cannabis and the medicinal framework of cannabinoids should be kept separate to prevent the ‘decriminalisation’ of cannabis via a medical route, and that “the use of medicinal cannabinoids needs a dialogue that clearly differentiates it from the dialogue about the legal status of cannabis.” One of their key proposals is: “It is hard to justify a place for a smoked medication, in light of the serious public health harms related to smoking and availability of other methods of delivery. For this reason, the authors would not recommend continuing a debate about the use of smoked medicinal cannabinoids.”

Family First is supporting the rapid expansion of further quality research into the components of the marijuana plant for delivery via non-smoked forms, and the establishment of a programme that allows seriously ill patients to obtain other non-smoked components of marijuana approved and listed by the Ministry of Health via their doctor – with appropriate funding and pricing for patients. Neurologists, palliative care and pain specialists should have a key role in this process.

“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. People should always come before profits.”

Briefing Paper sent to all MPs www.SayNopeToDope.nz/medicinal/ 

Mental Health Inquiry Will Worsen Mental Health With Soft Approach On Drugs

Media Release 4 December 2018 
Family First NZ says that the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction has made disturbing recommendations on the legal treatment of drugs which will actually worsen mental health rates.

“Anybody who has worked with young people especially but also those in the mental health field will have observed that marijuana is called dope for good reason. According to virtually every scientific review, marijuana is addictive and harmful – despite rhetoric from the marijuana industry and drug supporters. But the real concern is the effect on mental health and suicide ideation. The suddenness of suicidal ideation means that intervention may not always be possible,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ

New Zealand has some of the richest data on the adverse consequences of cannabis use coming from two major studies: the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS) and the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (DMHDS). The use of cannabis was associated with increased risks of a number of adverse outcomes including increased risks of psychotic symptoms and major depression. In the case of the Dunedin-based study, the scientists, said “Cannabis use in adolescence, when the brain is undergoing critical development, may have neurotoxic effects.”        

Researchers led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (and 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. Colorado toxicology reports show the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana has increased since legalisation of marijuana.

The Christchurch study also found that 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.

University of Queensland Centre for Youth Substance Abuse professor Wayne Hall says that legalising the drug would likely have the most significant impact on current users. If cannabis was made more affordable and easier to access, then consumption would increase, like any commodity.”

A sensible drug policy should recognise three pillars of drug policy:

  • supply reduction – target the dealers and suppliers
  • demand reduction – promote a drug-free culture
  • harm reduction – ensure addiction services & support are available for those who genuinely want to quit, using the coercion of the law for those whose addiction is controlling them

The current illegal status of drugs is an inhibitor that deters people from participating. It’s not about a ‘war on drugs’ as erroneously labelled by drug supporters. It’s about the defence of our brain. We need a “Stay Drug-Free” message,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“We should continue fighting drugs and the devastation its use causes on both the users, their families, and society in general. It’s working for tobacco. Why not drugs?”
ENDS

 

 

Bob McCoskrie: Canada’s legal cannabis is no way to go

Published in the NZ Herald, 29 November 2018
Dr Benedikt Fischer’s analysis of Canada’s new law on legal marijuana demonstrates that cannabis legalisation is high in promise and expectations, but the reality is far lower.

In fact, Canada’s law is confusing and has huge variations of how the law will apply throughout the country.

One of the biggest concerns is that the law allows kids as young as 12 to legally possess pot. The professed goal of the law was to keep marijuana out of the hands of youth, but youth, ages 12 to 18, are able to possess up to five grams of marijuana – around 10 joints.

But the Christchurch Health and Development Study has shown from their research that the use of cannabis is associated with increased risks of a number of adverse outcomes including: educational delay; increased risks of psychotic symptoms; major depression; increased risks of motor vehicle accidents; increased risks of tobacco use; and increased risks of other illicit drug use. These effects were most evident for young (under 18-year-old) users.

Regulation does nothing to mitigate these harms. Legalisation will exacerbate them.

The dangers of second-hand marijuana smoke were also ignored.

There are many other confusing aspects to Canada’s law.

The Toronto Police Service is implementing a rule that would prevent officers from using the legal drug within 28 days of a duty shift. In Calgary, the vast majority of police officers won’t be allowed to use cannabis, ever. Police officers in Vancouver and Ottawa will be allowed to use cannabis when they’re off work, as long as they’re fit for duty when it’s time to clock in. Federal prison guards and the military will have to avoid cannabis within 24 hours of duty.

That doesn’t sound like a sound research-based policy approach designed to give confidence.

When the federal government adopted the legislation, it left it to provinces to create their own regimes controlling how marijuana would be produced and distributed on their territory. Provinces such as Alberta and Ontario decided to allow private sales of cannabis — although under strict provincial supervision. Quebec opted for state-run stores.

In terms of private cultivation, the federal law permits Canadians to grow up to four marijuana plants per residence; Quebec’s law bans all private cultivation. 

The provincial law does allow citizens to smoke marijuana in most places that smoking tobacco is legal. But individual cities were free to draft bylaws if they wanted to add further restrictions, and many jumped at the opportunity. Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Levis, Saguenay, Magog, St-Jerome, Victoriaville and dozens of others have either prohibited all consumption of cannabis in public or signalled their intention to pass bylaws to that effect. Montreal, however, announced it would not add additional barriers to consuming cannabis.

Canada’s largest police forces are grappling with how to get blood samples from suspected drug-impaired drivers. In big cities, police forces are likely to sign contracts with medical specialists who would be on call 24 hours a day to come to police stations and draw blood within the legally required two-hour window after the suspect has been driving. But it’s not yet clear how police in smaller cities and rural areas will solve the logistical problem of getting a blood sample from a driver within two hours.

Employers are arguing they need clarity on workplace drug-testing rules due to conflicting court decisions on whether random drug-testing regimes are constitutional. Canada’s human rights tribunals and labour arbitrators have generally viewed random drug-testing as a privacy violation, but a 2013 Supreme Court of Canada decision did identify some limited cases where drug-testing could be used.

Dr Fischer’s optimism of effective regulation is already being tested. Just a fortnight ago, The Guardian featured a report highlighting that while federal legislation prohibits the sale of edible versions of the drug until at least 2019, it has “done little to stop online retailers and physical stores from openly selling brownies and candies infused with cannabis throughout the country.”

And the black market is still alive and well, with a Radio-Canada investigation already revealing that the financial backers of some producers have links to organised crime.

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.

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.

Drug use is a major health issue, and that’s why the role of the law is so important.

If we’re aiming to be Smoke Free in 2025, let’s be aspirational – and be Drug Free in 2025 also. Why not?

Children Hospitalised For Marijuana Poisoning & Mental Harm Will Worsen

Media Release 25 November 2018 
Family First NZ is sounding a warning that too many children are being hospitalised for marijuana poisoning and mental harm already, and that this rate will only increase if the drug is legalised.

Ministry of Health figures gained under the Official Information Act show that 73 children 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. For all ages, more than 2,200 have been hospitalised for cannabis alone.

“While the focus has been rightly on the devastation of synthetic cannabis, the fact remains there is no ‘safe drug’. 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 dope 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.

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 increased 52%, and hospitalisations increased 148% in Colorado (2012 compared to 2016). 

Research, including New Zealand-based research, has shown direct associations between the frequency of marijuana use and higher THC potency with the development of mental health issues (psychosis, depression, anxiety, suicidality, reshaping of brain matter, and addiction).[i] [ii] Teenagers who start smoking cannabis daily before the age of 17 are seven times more likely to commit suicide, a study has found.[iii] Colorado toxicology reports show the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana has increased. (Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment [CDPHE], 2017).

“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.”

In one example, a 9yo child in the US state of New Mexico suffered a bad reaction after mistaking her parent’s medical marijuana gummy bears for regular lollies and sharing them with her three friends at school. And pot-laced Oreos sent Oregon students to hospital. 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.

“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

Cannabis and Family Breakdown Main Causes For Homelessness

Media Release 28 November 2018 
A new study examining why people become homeless has found that daily marijuana use significantly increases men’s likelihood of becoming homeless, and that the other key factor for both men and women is parental separation.

The Melbourne University research published by the Royal Statistical Society found that for men, using cannabis daily increases their likelihood of becoming homeless by age 30 by 7-14 percentage points.

But they also found that the effect of parental separation on homelessness is substantial for both genders – six times that of drug use across both men and women. Of those who have experienced homelessness, 62% of respondents cite family breakdown or conflict as the main reason for becoming homeless for the first time.

The researchers say; “Our research suggests that early interventions to reduce cannabis use may be effective in reducing the number of boys and young men who become homeless.”

They also add “policy interventions supporting the housing needs of families that break down, can effectively reduce the transitions of children and young adults into homelessness, possibly breaking the path into lifelong extreme disadvantage.”

“Government policy should promote marriage and the strong formation of families – and offer support and free counselling to families where there is potential conflict and breakdown. Children being raised by their married biological parents are by far the safest from abuse, poverty, and imprisonment – and so too are the adults. We can now add protection from homelessness to the list,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“But most importantly, any attempts to legalise marijuana will only worsen the social problems we are facing around homelessness – especially for men. We should be doing everything we can to promote a drug-free culture and reject any liberalising of the law or promotion of a drug-friendly culture.”
ENDS

Study Shows Costs Of Legal Marijuana Exceeds Revenues 4:1

Media Release 20 November 2018
Family First New Zealand says that a new study on the impact of marijuana legalisation in Colorado has found that for every one dollar in tax revenue from marijuana, the state spends $4.50 as a result of the effects of the consequences of legalisation. This study based on actual experience completely undermines the recent Drug Foundation cost benefit analysis of drug law reform.

The Colorado study used all available data from the state on hospitalisations, treatment for Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD), impaired driving, black market activity, and other parameters to determine the cost of legalisation – and because of the difficulty in calculating the cost of human addiction, is believed to be an underestimation of the true cost.

“The myth pushed internationally by drug advocates is ‘Let’s tax it and use the money to provide addiction services and build schools and hospitals and houses and (insert a great cause here)…’. But the marijuana industry and drug lobbyists are quick to overestimate large amounts of revenue from marijuana sales, but rarely fully recognises the societal costs of legalisation,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Other societal costs not referred to by drug supporters include: greater other drug use, greater marijuana use among underage students, property and other economic damage, controlling an expanded black market, sales to minors, public intoxication, and other burdens. No policy is without its costs. Legalisation also results in administrative and enforcement costs, similar to alcohol regulation.”

Other findings from the study included:

  • costs related to the healthcare system and from high school drop-outs are the largest cost contributors
  • while people who attended college and use marijuana has grown since legalisation, marijuana use remains more prevalent in the population with less education
  • research shows a connection between marijuana use and the use of alcohol and other substances
  • yearly cost-estimates for marijuana users: $2,200 for heavy users, $1,250 for moderate users, $650 for light users ($US)
  • in 2016, the marijuana industry was responsible for approximately 393,053 pounds of CO2 emissions
  • marijuana packaging yielded over 18.78 million pieces of plastic

“Alcohol and tobacco have already warned us that tax revenue from marijuana sales will fall well short of the costs in New Zealand. Drug dealers and other criminals who derive huge profits from the drug trade will not cease criminal activity in the face of legalisation. A ‘regulated’ product is exactly why the black market will continue and thrive!” says Mr McCoskrie. 

“If New Zealand legalised marijuana, Big Marijuana would be laughing all the way to the bank while communities would suffer, black markets would continue to thrive, and taxpayers would be left to foot the bill.” 

“As ex-PM Helen Clark correctly said earlier this year, ‘The perfect day will be when we don’t collect a cent from tobacco tax because nobody is smoking.’ That ideal day also applies to marijuana and other drugs. Drug Free 2025 is the goal,” says Mr McCoskrie.
ENDS

I Visited Colorado To See Dope Legalisation. Don’t Go There.

Legalised dope is a licence for Big Marijuana to exploit young people
Bob McCoskrie – National Director, Family First NZ
Published in the Dominion Post 15 November 2018

In August I visited Colorado to see first-hand the effects of legalised marijuana.

I quickly realised that the drug has come a long way since the days of Cheech & Chong.

The upcoming referendum isn’t about a ‘toke’ or a ‘tinnie’. We’re talking about Big Marijuana: a new money-making industry of lobbyists and special interest groups putting profits over evidence-based policy protecting public health and safety, and ready to flout and challenge any regulations.

While dope shops in Colorado have forms of marijuana buds to smoke, almost half of the business is now in highly potent cannabis concentrates – edibles, dabbing (smoking highly concentrated THC) and vaping. The average psychoactive component of cannabis (THC) of all tested flower last year in Colorado was 19.6%, and the average potency of concentrated extract products was 68.6%. Potency rates of up to 95% have been recorded.

The 2% THC ‘woodstock weed’ has been replaced by popping a handful of gummy bears containing 10 times the legal limit of THC per serving, or a 90% THC dab.

‘Ditch weed’ refers to weak weed. It used to mean under 3% THC. Today, ‘ditch’ in Colorado is anything 15% or less.

This is definitely not your parent’s pot.

With increased potency comes increased health risks, including mental illness, psychotic symptoms, suicidal thoughts among teens, respiratory problems, and a greater likelihood of addiction. And addiction is exactly what Big Marijuana wants.

It fascinates me that at the same time as we are rightly booting Big Tobacco out of the country, we are in the process of putting down the welcome mat for Big Marijuana.

We got sucked in once, but we finally understood that the claims made by Big Tobacco – how healthy the product was, that it wasn’t addictive, and that they weren’t targeting young people – were all big, fat lies. The supporters of dope are now peddling the same myths.

In Colorado I saw all sorts of THC-infused products, including coffee, ice-cream, baked goods, lollypops, fizzy drinks, tea, hot cocoa, breath mints & spray, pills, gummi bears, chewing gum, marinara sauce, and even suppositories. Big Marijuana deliberately targets these products at the young. The earlier they can get someone addicted, the better for business.

Users will be drinking it, chewing it, sucking it, and eating it as a dessert. These products are easily transportable and readily concealed or disguised. Teens and twenty-somethings will love it, and that should worry us all.

The US Attorney for the District of Colorado published an article in the Denver Post just this month entitled “It’s high time we took a breath from marijuana commercialization, Colorado.”

He said, “Colorado’s youth use marijuana at a rate 85% higher than the national average. Now marijuana-related traffic fatalities are up by 151%. Now 70% of 400 licensed pot shops surveyed recommend that pregnant women use marijuana to treat morning sickness. Now an indoor marijuana grow consumes 17x more power per square foot than an average residence. Now each of the approximately 1m adult marijuana plants grown by licensed growers in Colorado consumes over 2.2 liters of water – per day. Now Colorado has issued over 40 little-publicized recalls of retail marijuana laced with pesticides and mold. And now Colorado has a booming black market…

Despite 65% of local jurisdictions in Colorado banning any medical and recreational marijuana businesses in their local areas because of public discontent, there are now more marijuana stores statewide than McDonalds and Starbucks combined.

Other disturbing trends include the yearly rate of marijuana-related hospitalisations in Colorado increasing 148%, and toxicology reports show that the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana has increased.

Marijuana products with high THC levels

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.

There is one positive about the referendum though: it has revealed the ultimate agenda of drug advocates. The smokescreens of ‘medicinal cannabis’ or ‘decriminalisation’ no longer work. We now know the ultimate goal: legalisation of recreational dope. And, if we listen to drug advocates internationally, they will want legalisation of not just this drug but all drugs – cocaine, heroin, P.

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.

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.

People should always come before profits.

We should say no to Big Marijuana.

Evidence Proves Tax Argument For Marijuana Is Flawed

Media Release 7 November 2018
Family First New Zealand says that the cost benefit analysis of drug law reform may sound attractive, but international evidence shows that it is a flawed pipe dream.

“The myth pushed internationally by drug advocates is ‘Let’s tax it and use the money to provide addiction services and build schools and hospitals and houses and (insert a great cause here)…’. But the marijuana industry is quick to overestimate large amounts of revenue from marijuana sales, but it rarely fully recognises the societal costs of legalisation,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Other societal costs not referred to by drug supporters include: greater other drug use, greater marijuana use among underage students, property and other economic damage, controlling an expanded black market, sales to minors, public intoxication, and other burdens. No policy is without its costs. Legalisation also results in administrative and enforcement costs, similar to alcohol regulation.”

Alcohol and tobacco have already warned us that tax revenue from marijuana sales will fall well short of the costs. A report published the Ministry of Health in 2016 estimated that the total cost of smoking to New Zealand’s health and welfare systems was $2.5 billion in 2014. Tobacco excise tax currently raises approximately $1.5 billion gross per year. A 2016 Treasury report stated that excess healthcare costs for smokers over non-smokers in New Zealand are almost $2 billion.

Alcohol-related harm in New Zealand has been recently estimated to cost approx. $5 billion per year. This equates to a cost of $14.5 million every day. Excise tax revenue from alcohol in 2016 was $661 million.

“Trends have already surfaced in Colorado & Washington state, suggesting that costs outweigh revenues. Over half the pot money promised for drug prevention, education & treatment in Washington State never materialised. Bureaucracy consumes a significant portion of Colorado marijuana tax revenue.”

Researchers say that the alleged reduction in law enforcement and justice expenditure have not been realised overseas, with crime increasing and an increase in the costs of added regulation for non-compliance. Furthermore, the budget estimates do not cover the additional health and education on cannabis harms and the fact that the illegal drug trade will inevitably continue to thrive under more regulation and taxation. Drug dealers and other criminals who derive huge profits from the drug trade will not cease criminal activity in the face of legalisation.

In 2010, Gil Kerlikowske, President Obama’s Drug Czar, said: “The tax revenue collected from alcohol pales in comparison to the costs associated with it… Tobacco also does not carry its economic weight when we tax it… It is clear that the social costs of legalising marijuana would outweigh any possible tax that could be levied. In the United States, illegal drugs already cost $180 billion a year in health care, lost productivity, crime, and other expenditures. That number would only increase under legalisation because of increased use.” 

“As Helen Clark correctly said earlier this year, ‘The perfect day will be when we don’t collect a cent from tobacco tax because nobody is smoking.’ That ideal day also applies to marijuana and other drugs. Drug Free 2025 is the goal,” says Mr McCoskrie.
ENDS

Global Commission on Drug Policy Promotes Flawed Drug-Rights Culture

Media Release 25 October 2018
Family First says that the Global Commission on Drug Policy has a flawed approach to drug use in our society, and is more focused on the rights of individuals to live in a drug-friendly society than it is in the welfare, safety and health of the community. It is also at odds with 129 countries including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom who have signed the Global Call to Action.

“The GCDP wants to legalise all drug use, and wants policies based on ‘human rights’ and which remove the ‘stigmatisation’ and ‘marginalisation’ of people who use drugs. Drug users should receive all the help they can to overcome their addiction and to become drug-free, but the health, rights and protection of the general public should take precedence over the drug users. Being drug-free should be the ultimate goal, not the normalisation of drug use. Legalising drugs will increase drug use and the need for drug treatment, while making it harder to keep communities safe,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The GCDP argues for drugs to be treated as a ‘health issue’, but reducing the demand is a vital step because of the many health harms of drugs We know from New Zealand research alone that 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. Use of drugs by pregnant mums is also of major concern.”

“It is ironic that many of the members of the GCDP – including Helen Clark – have a connection to the UN. There is no such thing as a universal right enshrined in any United Nations documentation safeguarding a person’s use of illicit drugs. In fact, the United Nations’ Right of the Child, Article 33, specifically states that Member States ‘shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances’. The United Nations Drug Conventions specifically deny that drug use is a human right. And President Obama’s 2010 National Drug Control Strategy focused on both public health and public safety and the importance of preventing drug use.”

“Why does the GCDP back the drug user as if they have an inalienable right to use drugs, free of any consequence or consideration of the rights of families and communities? Their call for the removal of the ‘stigmatisation and marginalisation’ of drug users is essentially a call for the wider community to ignore the well-established and unequivocal harms of drugs, and to back a drug-friendly right-to-drugs culture.”

“New Zealanders are right to turn their back to this radical and flawed ideology.”

The New Zealand Drug Harm Index 2016 estimates the social cost of drug-related harms and intervention costs in 2014/15 as NZ$1.8 billion. This covers the cost of personal harm and community harm, and the need for interventions by agencies to address the associated harms including health, education and law enforcement.

New Zealand should support the Global Call to Action signed by Australia, Canada, UK and over 100 other countries. The action plan calls for a four-pronged strategy:

(1) reduce demand for illicit drugs through education, awareness, and prevention of abuse;
(2) expand treatment efforts to save lives and promote recovery;
(3) strengthen international cooperation across judicial, law enforcement, and health sectors; and
(4) cut off the supply of illicit drugs by stopping their production, whether through cultivation or manufacture, and flow across borders.

ENDS

Canada’s marijuana law – confusion and uncertainty, and tears

Canada’s law introduced on October 17 this year has huge variations of how the law will apply throughout the country. This will lead to confusion and uncertainty, but ultimately it will all end in tears.

YOUTH
This is one of the most concerning aspects. A little-known provision wrapped into the law would allow kids as young as 12 to legally possess pot. The professed goal of Bill C-45 is to keep marijuana out of the hands of youth, but tucked into the law, among the pages of legislation, is a clause stating youth, ages 12 to 18, will be able to possess and share up to five grams of marijuana (about 15 joints) before facing criminal charges.[1]  

RETAILERS
When the federal government adopted legislation to legalize cannabis last June, it left it to provinces to create their own regimes controlling how marijuana would be produced and distributed on their territory. Provinces such as Alberta and Ontario decided to allow private sales of cannabis — although under strict provincial supervision. Quebec opted for state-run stores.
PRIVATE CULTIVATION
The federal law permits Canadians to grow up to four marijuana plants per residence; Quebec’s law bans all private cultivation. 
PUBLIC USE
The provincial law does allow citizens to smoke marijuana in most places that smoking tobacco is legal. But individual cities were free to draft bylaws if they wanted to add further restrictions, and many jumped at the opportunity. Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Levis, Saguenay, Magog, St-Jerome, Victoriaville and dozens of others have either prohibited all consumption of cannabis in public or signalled their intention to pass bylaws to that effect. Montreal, however, announced Wednesday it would not add additional barriers to consuming cannabis.
RENTAL PROPERTIES
Mayor Valerie Plante said most Montrealers are renters, and if their landlords ban cannabis in their units, there won’t be anywhere that citizens can consume what will be a legal product.[2]

DRUG DRIVING
Canada’s largest police forces are grappling with how to reliably — and quickly — get blood samples from suspected drug-impaired drivers. Under the new law, police can demand a blood sample once they have reasonable grounds to believe a person is impaired, such as a failed field sobriety test or a positive result on a saliva-testing device. In big cities, police forces are likely to sign contracts with medical specialists who would be on call 24 hours a day to come to police stations and draw blood within the legally required two-hour window after the suspect has been driving. But it’s not yet clear how police in smaller cities and rural areas will solve the logistical problem of getting a blood sample from a driver within two hours.[3]

WORKPLACE DRUG-TESTING RULES
Employers are arguing they need clarity on workplace drug-testing rules due to conflicting court decisions on whether random drug-testing regimes are constitutional. Canada’s human rights tribunals and labour arbitrators have generally viewed random drug-testing as a privacy violation, though a 2013 Supreme Court of Canada decision did identify some limited cases where drug-testing could be used. “There’s confusion in this space over what the rules are, what is allowed, what is not allowed, how is it to be done,” said Derrick Hynes, executive director of Federally Regulated Employers — Transportation and Communications.[4]

FIT FOR POLICE DUTY?
The Toronto Police Service is implementing a rule that would prevent officers from using the soon-to-be-legal drug within 28 days of a duty shift. In Calgary, the vast majority of police officers won’t be allowed to use cannabis, ever. Police officers in Vancouver and Ottawa will be allowed to use cannabis when they’re off work, as long as they’re fit for duty when it’s time to clock in. Federal prison guards and some other correctional staff, meanwhile, will have to avoid cannabis within 24 hours of duty.[5]

What the legal cannabis market will look like across Canada (in each province and territory)[6]
(note the inconsistency around personal growing, public smoking, retail stores)

 

[1] https://leaderpost.com/news/saskatchewan/kids-will-be-able-to-possess-weed-under-federal-marijuana-legislation
[2] https://ipolitics.ca/2018/10/12/quebecers-to-face-some-of-the-strictest-cannabis-laws-in-canada/
[3] https://nationalpost.com/cannabis/police-struggling-with-how-theyll-collect-blood-samples-from-suspected-drug-impaired-drivers
[4] https://nationalpost.com/cannabis/cannabis-news/cannabis-legalization/officials-say-its-up-to-federal-workplaces-to-decide-if-their-cannabis-rules-need-updating
[5] https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/featured/28-days-later-marijuana-bans-for-cops-raise-questions-about-impairment-496980581.html
[6] https://420intel.com/articles/2018/10/15/what-legal-cannabis-market-will-look-across-canada