Category

Media Release

Green’s ‘Medicinal’ Marijuana Bill Up In Smoke

Media Release 31 January 2018
Family First NZ is welcoming the strong defeat of Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal marijuana bill.

“it makes no sense for two bills on the same issue to be considered at the same time. That is a waste of taxpayer resource. The government should have confidence in what it is proposing and allow that to be analysed and improved by submissions made to the Select Committee,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“We support the government’s cautious and researched approach around this issue, and we also support a compassionate response to those in real need. But the Swarbrick bill failed the test in terms of public health, public safety, and protecting our young people and the politicians were right to reject it so strongly.”

“No other medicine is lit up and inhaled as was proposed by the Green’s bill. We need to say no to ‘medicinal marijuana’, and yes to ‘medicinal cannabinoids’ products.”

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.

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

ENDS

Rejection of Green’s ‘Medicinal’ Marijuana Bill Welcomed

Media Release 30 January 2018
Family First NZ is welcoming National’s rejection of the Green’s private members bill on medicinal marijuana, and is now calling on NZ First MPs to reject it also.

“It makes no sense for two bills on the same issue to be considered at the same time. That is a waste of taxpayer resource. The government should have confidence in what it is proposing and allow that to be analysed and tested by submissions made to the Select Committee,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Labour, NZ First and National should reject any association with the Green’s private members bill which is effectively a ‘grow your own dope’ option. We support the government’s cautious and researched approach around this issue, and we also support a compassionate response to those in real need. But the Green’s private members bill fails the test in terms of public health, public safety, and protecting our young people and the Government is right to steer clear of it. No other medicine is lit up and inhaled as proposed by the Green’s bill. We need to say no to ‘medicinal marijuana’, and yes to ‘medicinal cannabinoids’ products.”

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.

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

Green’s Grow-Your-Own-Dope-Medicine Bill Is Flawed

Media Release 29 January 2018
Family First NZ says that politicians should reject the Green’s private members bill on medicinal marijuana, labelling it as flawed and dangerous, and says that any legislation on medicinal marijuana should be based on legitimate and responsible scientific research on the potential benefits and risks of medical cannabis.

“Labour, NZ First and National should reject any association with the Green’s private members bill which is effectively a ‘grow your own dope’ option. We support the government’s cautious and researched approach around this issue, and we also support a compassionate response to those in real need. But the Green’s private members bill fails the test in terms of public health, public safety, and protecting our young people and the Government is right to steer clear of it. No other medicine is lit up and inhaled as proposed by the Green’s bill. We need to say no to ‘medicinal marijuana’, and yes to ‘medicinal cannabinoids’ products,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Family First has also released a Briefing Paper on the issue.

“The Green party have done us all a favour by declaring the true intention of marijuana campaigners in the coalition agreement with Labour – full legalisation for personal use. Groups like NORML and other marijuana advocates have used medicinal marijuana and decriminalisation as a smokescreen for the real goal.”

“‘Medicinal’ marijuana is being used to manipulate society’s compassion for people with serious pain and health concerns. But marijuana will 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.”

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.” They recommended relabelling the discussion as being about “medicinal cannabinoids, not 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.

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

Govt Must Listen To Medical Profession on Marijuana

Media Release 20 December 2017
Family First NZ says that any legislation on medicinal marijuana should be based on legitimate and responsible scientific research on the potential benefits and risk of medical cannabis. Family First has also released a Briefing Paper on the issue.

“We support a cautious and researched approach around this issue, and we also support a compassionate response to those in real need. But we also need to say no to ‘medicinal marijuana’, and yes to ‘medicinal cannabinoids’ products,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Ultimately, the medical profession should be dictating the direction of this debate, not politicians, an anecdotal-wielding lobby, and marijuana advocates with a hidden agenda.”

“The push for medicinal cannabis appears to be driven more by popular demand and pro-recreational cannabis law reform advocacy than by medical science… The framework for the approach to medicinal cannabis should be consistent with that for medicines, and kept separate from debate about the legal status of cannabis for recreational use. Doctors should not be enablers for the recreational use of cannabis… Given the possible harms associated with smoking cannabis and the availability of other modes of administration, it is difficult to justify a place for smoked cannabis as a medicine.”   New Zealand Medical Association (November 2017)

“The RACP holds that any access to prescribed medicinal cannabis should be under a very restrictive framework, due to the poor body of data indicating any efficacy, safety or cost efficacy for medicinal cannabis for any indication. Drug diversion and minimising risks of harm (especially in young people), are managed best when access is tightly controlled. Prescription of therapeutics should be evidence based. Given the absence of robust evidence supporting the use of medicinal cannabis, any prescribed medicinal cannabis data under the proposed framework should be collected via clinical trials, registry or otherwise to expand the evidence of medicinal cannabis applications.” The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
(representing 25,000 medical specialists in Australia & NZ)

“Kiwis could be forgiven for thinking cannabis is one such wonder cure as we see and hear very little about its risks and negative effects. This is a gross misrepresentation of the medicinal value of the substance… Underpinning all of this, is the paradox that New Zealand finds itself in right now. How can we tout “Smokefree 2025” while we discuss legalising an inhaled product with more than 100 harmful substances?” Dr Stephen Child, past chair of NZMA

“There is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder.” American Psychiatric Association

“ASAM asserts that cannabis, cannabis-based products and cannabis delivery devices should be subject to the same standards that are applicable to other prescription medications and medical devices, and that these products should not be distributed or otherwise provided to patients unless and until such products or devices have received marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration. ASAM rejects smoking as a means of drug delivery since it is not safe.” American Society of Addiction Medicine

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)… opposes the smoking or vaping of marijuana and other cannabinoids in public places because the carcinogens in marijuana smoke pose numerous health hazards to the patient and others in the patient’s presence.American Cancer Society

Smoked cannabis research studies have not produced enough evidence to assess its safety or effectiveness for treating MS symptoms including spasticity, pain, balance, posture and cognition changes.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society

“The AAP opposes medical marijuana outside of the usual process by the Food and Drug Administration to approve pharmaceutical products. Only limited research has been conducted on medical marijuana for adults, and there have been no published studies of cannabinoids — either in the form of marijuana or other preparations — that involve children.The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

The AMA has called for more research on the subject, with the caveat that this “should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product.” The American Medical Association (AMA)

“In the absence of credible data, this debate is being dominated by bad science and misinformation from people interested in using medical marijuana as a step to legalization for recreational use… Young people, who are clearly being targeted with medical marijuana advertising and diversion, are most vulnerable to developing marijuana addiction and suffering from its lasting effects.”
Dr. Christian Thurstone, a psychiatrist board-certified in general, child and adolescent and addictions psychiatry, who serves as an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado and as medical director of one of Colorado’s largest adolescent substance-abuse-treatment programs

“More research is needed on the basic neuropharmacology of THC and other cannabinoids so that better therapeutic agents can be found.” World Health Organization

“There is a critical need for robust research on herbal cannabis to identify targets for medical development.”  American Pain Society

“The AAFP recognizes that there is support for the medical use of marijuana but advocates that usage be based on high quality, patient-centered, evidence-based research and advocates for further studies into the use of medical marijuana and related compounds… The AAFP also recognizes that some states have passed laws approving the medical use of marijuana; the AAFP does not endorse such laws.” American Academy of Family Physicians

Briefing Paper (includes reference notes for quotes) www.SayNopeToDope.org.nz/medicinal/
ENDS

Answering Your Questions on Medicinal Marijuana – A Briefing Paper For Families

The Labour-led government is focusing on the ‘medicinal marijuana’ issue, with the intention of medicinal cannabis being more available to people with terminal illness or chronic pain, and allowing for the personal cultivation and use of the cannabis plant. Our MPs will also be voting on a private members bill early next year from the Greens which, while disguised as ‘medicinal marijuana’, is effectively a subtle legalisation of marijuana – a grow-your-own-dope bill with very little control or safeguards. Even the media has labelled it as such.

To help you get your head around this debate, we’ve produced a 6-page Briefing Paper.

* What does the research show?
* What’s the ultimate goal for medicinal marijuana campaigners?
* What about people who need marijuana for seizures?
* Is there a responsible way to deal with marijuana use
* What’s wrong with legalising a natural plant?
* What do the medical professional groups say?

It’s vital that families fully understand the opportunities but also the risks with this agenda, and especially what the ultimate goal is for many groups pushing this issue. Please take the time to read this important resource.

DOWNLOAD THE BRIEFING PAPER

READ ONLINE

Medicinal Marijuana Must Be Based on Research

Media Release 19 December 2017
Family First NZ says that any legislation on medicinal marijuana should be based on legitimate and responsible scientific research on the potential benefits and risk of medical cannabis, but that the government should reject any association with the Green’s private members bill which is effectively a ‘grow your own dope’ option. Family First has also released a Briefing Paper on the issue.

“We support a cautious and researched approach around this issue, and we also support a compassionate response to those in real need. But the Green’s private members bill fails the test in terms of public health, public safety, and protecting our young people and the Government is right to steer clear of it. No other medicine is lit up and inhaled as proposed by the Green’s bill. We need to say no to ‘medicinal marijuana’, and yes to ‘medicinal cannabinoids’ products,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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.” They recommended relabelling the discussion as being about “medicinal cannabinoids, not 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.

“The Green party have done us all a favour by declaring the true intention of marijuana campaigners in the coalition agreement with Labour – full legalisation for personal use. Groups like NORML and other marijuana advocates have used medicinal marijuana and decriminalisation as a smokescreen for the real goal.”

“‘Medicinal’ marijuana is being used to manipulate society’s compassion for people with serious pain and health concerns. But marijuana will 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.”

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.
Check the Briefing Paper www.SayNopeToDope.nz/medicinal/
ENDS

SayNopeToDope.nz Website Will Oppose Legalisation

Media Release 24 October 2017
Family First NZ says that their website www.SayNopeToDope.nz will inform families about the attempts to legalise marijuana, and to help them speak up in the public debate.

“The Green party have done us all a favour by declaring the true intention of marijuana campaigners – full legalisation for personal use. Groups like NORML and the Drug Foundation have used medicinal marijuana and decriminalisation as a smokescreen for the real goal,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Families simply don’t want marijuana plants being grown next door by dope dealers in view of the children, tinnie houses on street corners and pot shops in local shopping areas, or marijuana being disguised as lollies and edibles as has happened overseas. Legalising marijuana and the rise of Big Marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people. There are too many health risks including the effect of marijuana on cognitive ability, cardiac function and psychosis, and research just this weekend showing that cannabis use during puberty is a major risk factor for schizophrenia.”

“Drug use is both a criminal and a health issue. There is a false dichotomy that criminal sanctions apparently haven’t worked so we should ditch them all together and we should focus only on education and health initiatives. We should maintain both. Policing burglary, theft and the drug P also costs money – should we decriminalise these also because the ‘war on burglary’ or the ‘war on P’ is failing?”

The incoming Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has expressed concerns  about people being imprisoned for the personal use of cannabis.

“Ministry of Justice statistics debunk claims by supporters of legalizing marijuana that hundreds of people are being locked up for petty drug offences each year. Statistics obtained from the Ministry of Justice by Family First NZ under the Official Information Act show that less than 10 people have been given a prison sentence for cannabis possession offences in each of the last three years, and that even these sentences may be ‘influenced by their previous offending history’. It will be difficult to meet somebody who says they’ve been behind bars for smoking a joint, and that’s their only crime,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

However, Family First is supporting the government’s current approach of allowing seriously ill patients to obtain non-smoked components of marijuana approved and listed by the Ministry of Health via their doctor, and further quality research into the components of the marijuana plant for delivery via non-smoked forms.
Check the official website www.SayNopeToDope.nz
ENDS

Campaign Will Say Nope To Dope

Media Release 20 October 2017
Family First NZ says that the Green party have now declared their true intention – to legalise dope – and a strong campaign will be run to encourage families to ‘say nope to dope’ in any upcoming referendum. 

“Legalising marijuana and the rise of Big Marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people. There are too many health risks including the effect of marijuana on cognitive ability, cardiac function and psychosis,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. 

“Families simply don’t want marijuana plants being grown next door by dope dealers in view of the children, tinnie houses on street corners and pot shops in local shopping areas, or marijuana being disguised as lollies and edibles as has happened overseas. Colorado, for example, has more marijuana businesses than McDonalds and Starbucks combined.” 

“It remains highly ironic that at the same time as we tear the labelling off cigarette packets, price them out of existence, and ban them from being smoked within breathing space of any living creature, supporters of marijuana are peddling the same myths that we believed for far too long about tobacco – that marijuana is harmless. But of course, a new business market is all very exciting – especially one based on addiction. Could our current mental health services cope? They can’t even cope now,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

Past chair of the NZMA Dr Stephen Child exposes the paradox that New Zealand finds itself in right now. “How can we tout ‘Smokefree 2025’ while we discuss legalising an inhaled product with more than 100 harmful substances?”  

University of Queensland Centre for Youth Substance Abuse professor Wayne Hall warns that legalising the drug would likely have the most significant impact on current users. “The people who already enjoy using it when it’s illegal will use more heavily and more frequently when it’s cheaper and decriminalised. Those who used cannabis frequently (more than once a week) were most likely to suffer effects to their health and wellbeing.” 

“Drug use is both a criminal and a health issue. There is a false dichotomy that criminal sanctions apparently haven’t worked so we should ditch them all together and we should focus only on education and health initiatives. We should maintain both,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

The Vote Compass survey run by TVNZ rebuts the spurious and vested interest claims made by NORML and the Drug Foundation that NZ’ers want marijuana laws liberalised. An independent 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll in July also showed New Zealanders equally divided over the issue. 

Statistics obtained from the Ministry of Justice by Family First NZ under the Official Information Act show that less than 10 people have been given a prison sentence for cannabis possession offences in each of the last three years, and that even these sentences may be ‘influenced by their previous offending history’. 

“While Family First welcomes a cautious approach based on extensive research and appropriate safeguards around medicinal marijuana, any hint of legalising marijuana is the wrong path,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

“Don’t let NZ go to pot. The grass is not always greener.”
ENDS

Stunning Hypocrisy on Referendums By Greens

Media Release 20 October 2017
Family First NZ is slamming the Green party as being hypocritical after their call for a referendum on legalising dope. 

“This is the same party that rejected the voice of New Zealanders when they sent a clear message on the anti-smacking law in 2009 – 87% of NZ’ers voting against the law. The Greens also voted against having a referendum on the hugely controversial issue of changing the definition of marriage when the views of the country were clearly split down the middle,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. 

“If the Greens want to show consistency and they want a binding referendum on marijuana, then they should acknowledge and respect the result of the smacking law referendum.” 

“They can’t have it both ways where referendums only count for the questions that they ask and the results that they like.”
ENDS

Bob McCoskrie: Legalising weed raises questions

Published in Manukau Courier 13 Sep 2017 and Papakura Courier 6 Sep 2017
(not currently available online)
The Drug Foundation recently claimed that there is widespread support for marijuana and that it’s time to liberalise the laws, based on their own polling which showed that approximately a third of respondents want personal cannabis use legalised, a third want it decriminalised, and a third want it to remain illegal.

Interestingly, an independent 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll a month ago showed New Zealanders appear to be almost equally divided over liberalising cannabis laws.

A question the Drug Foundation should have included is – what’s the difference between decriminalisation and legalisation?

As we have learnt from Oregon, Alaska and Colorado, decriminalisation is simply a stepping stone to full legalisation.

And does ‘medicinal’ marijuana actually deliver – and how?

But this is part of the ‘smokescreen’ being put up by supporters of marijuana.

As Australian ethicist Dr Gregory Pike says: “Changing the image of cannabis by promoting it as medicine is powerful. There doesn’t need to be much nuance in the idea that medicines are good and abstracted from that nasty business of “illicit drugs”. The latter wreck lives whereas the former heal people. The image change gets into the collective consciousness and people start to think differently, gradually allowing a medical paradigm to overtake even strong contrary evidence of harm.”

Of course, a new business market is all very exciting – especially one based on addiction.

In 1979, NORML admittedWe’ll use medical marijuana as red-herring to give marijuana a good name”.

It remains highly ironic that at the same time as we tear the labelling off cigarette packets, price them out of existence, and ban them from being smoked within breathing space of any living creature, supporters of marijuana are peddling the same myths that we believed for far too long about tobacco – that marijuana is harmless.

Past chair of the NZMA Dr Stephen Child exposes the paradox that New Zealand finds itself in right now. “How can we tout ‘Smokefree 2025’ while we discuss legalising an inhaled product with more than 100 harmful substances?”

University of Queensland Centre for Youth Substance Abuse professor Wayne Hall said legalising the drug would likely have the most significant impact on current users. “The people who already enjoy using it when it’s illegal will use more heavily and more frequently when it’s cheaper and decriminalised. Those who used cannabis frequently (more than once a week) were most likely to suffer effects to their health and wellbeing.”

Massey University drug researcher Dr Chris Wilkins warned; “If you’re using high potency, using daily or if you’ve a history of mental illness or drug addiction it can have serious health problems bringing on mental illness or further addiction.

Could our current mental health services cope? They can’t even cope now.

But here’s a warning based on experience.

A Columbia University study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in April, 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. Researchers said that these laws seem to send a message that use of this drug is safe and acceptable in some way.

Two research reviews just published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that 45-85% of people seeking medical marijuana in the U.S. do so for pain management. But when they examined 27 previously published studies on this topic, they found only low-quality evidence that cannabis may help nerve pain, and this wasn’t for smoking pot, it was for oral mixtures sprayed into the mouth.

UK commentator Ross Clark saysThe pro-drug lobby likes to quote Portugal at us… because it counts on us not knowing what actually happens to drug-users in Portugal and hopes that we will confuse the words ‘decriminalised’ with ‘made legal’. The latter is what metropolitan liberals really want, not because they are especially concerned with the health of drug addicts on distant council estates but because they rather like using drugs themselves.

Dr Manuel Pinto Coelho, President of the Association for a Drug Free Portugal, sends a clear warning: “There is now in Portugal a trivialisation… Decriminalisation in Portugal was not a blessing.

Liberalising marijuana laws is the wrong path if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people.

Drug use is both a criminal and a health issue. There is a false dichotomy that criminal sanctions haven’t worked so we should ditch them all together and we should focus only on education and health initiatives. We should maintain both.

Kevin Sabet from Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) states: “The regulation of (legal) alcohol and tobacco has been an utter disaster from a public cost and public-policy point of view. We’ve never regulated those drugs in a responsible way. Lobbyists and special interests own the rule-making when it comes to these drugs…. do we really want to repeat history once again?”

Here’s some questions for the Drug Foundation’s next poll.

Are you aware of the health risks including the effect of marijuana on cognitive ability, cardiac function and psychosis?
Do you want marijuana plants next door to your family home in view of the children?
Are you happy with ‘tinnie houses’ on your street corner and in your local shopping areas?
Are you happy with stoned drivers on the road, and driving heavy machinery?
As a taxpayer, are you happy to fund the ongoing costs of marijuana legalisation in public awareness campaigns, law enforcement, healthcare treatment, addiction recovery, preventative work, and education programmes for teenagers & young adults, especially when studies show that the brains of 25-30y/o’s are still developing – and can still be harmed by dope.

No, don’t let NZ go to pot. The grass is not always greener.

Bob McCoskrie: Questions we need to ask before going to pot
Stuff co.nz 13 September 2017
https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/manukau-courier/96795591/bob-mccoskrie-questions-we-need-to-ask-before-going-to-pot