Media Release 8 June 2020
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.
“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?”
The New Zealand coalition has aligned itself with the 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.
“Our NZ coalition is stoked to be aligned with such a credible organization as SAM. 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.”
(Smart Approaches To Marijuana NZ)
REFERENDUM ON THE LEGALISATION OF RECREATIONAL CANNABIS
Evidence shows that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. In US states that have already legalised the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes, youth marijuana use, and costs that far outweigh tax revenues from marijuana. These states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, sustained marijuana arrest rates, and tobacco company investment in marijuana. It plays a significant role in domestic violence, crime, accidents, mental disorders and lost productivity.
The referendum proposed by the Government on the legalisation of cannabis will therefore be a watershed moment for the health and well-being of all New Zealanders.
Legalising the drug would in effect legitimise and increase its use in New Zealand. Regulations and the educative approach have failed to prevent the abuse of alcohol in this country with all of us having to suffer its adverse consequences in road accidents, violence and anti-social behaviour.
When education and regulation fail, the legal status of the drug is the only bottom line to prevent its wholesale adoption with all of the negative consequences for us as a nation.
Smart Approaches To Marijuana NZ (SAM-NZ) is an alliance of community organisations and leaders (including ex-addicts, educators, ex-police, addiction counsellors, health professionals and community workers), and opposes any attempt to legalise cannabis, based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.
We argue that drug use is both a criminal and a health issue. A smart arrest policy can both provide a societal stamp of disapproval and provide an opportunity to intervene and stop the progression of use. Keeping marijuana illegal through an appropriate application of the laws that cater for ‘youthful indiscretions’ and which focus predominantly on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy. But if those with addictions commit serious offences, as does happen, the criminal law cannot simply turn a blind eye. The community still needs to be protected.
We fully support the increased provision and funding of drug counselling services, drug treatment centres and drug education programmes in schools. These should remain our preferred ‘smart’ approach to cannabis use.
This is not a ‘war on drugs’ – this is a defence of our brains and health. People should always come before profits.
Retaining it as a criminal offence sends a clear and unequivocal message that New Zealanders regard drug use as a dangerous and unacceptable form of recreation.
We urge New Zealanders to be fully informed on this debate, to think deeply on the implications, and to vote NO to legalising cannabis in the referendum.
Aaron Ironside Spokesperson: SAM-NZ
Pat Buckley Amped4Life Trust
Imraan Ali 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
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)