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Campaign For Nope To Dope Vote Already Making Impact VOTENO.NZ

Media Release 7 May 2019
Family First NZ says that the debate around legalising marijuana is already underway and New Zealanders are quickly realising that while there is an appetite for safe and effective forms of cannabis medicine, there is a decreasing appetite for a soft approach to recreational use.

In the most recent poll, less than 20% (one in five) New Zealanders support legalisation of marijuana, but there is strong support for lifting restrictions for medical use (65%). The polling also found that 85% think that cannabis use can damage the brains of young people under the age of 25, 81% think that drivers using cannabis are more likely to cause accidents, 63% think that cannabis users aged under 25 are less likely to get a job (only 20% think it makes no difference) and half of NZers think that cannabis usage will increase if restrictions are reduced, 35% think usage would remain the same and 6% decrease.

“It is clear that Kiwis strongly support a compassionate response to those in real need with a cautious and researched approach around cannabis medicine, but when they thoughtfully consider the real implications of legalising recreational use, they completely reject the proposal – and rightly so,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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 crashesyouth 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.

Portugal has seen a rise in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco consumption and of every illicit psychoactive substance (affected by the weight of cannabis use in those aged 15-74) in the last five years.”

A Canadian federal study just released found a 27% increase in marijuana use among people aged 15 to 24 since legalisation last year. Additionally, approximately 646,000 Canadians have reported trying marijuana for the first time in the last three months, an amount almost double the 327,000 that admitted to trying the drug for the same time period last year. Other concerning trends included 15% of marijuana users got behind the wheel of a car within two hours of using the drug, and daily users were more than twice as likely to believe that it was safe for them to operate a vehicle within three hours of ingesting the drug.

This report comes on the heels of another study finding that the black market in Canada is absolutely thriving, with over 79% of marijuana sales in the last quarter of 2018 occurring outside the legal market – a similar trend to California and Colorado.

“When people think about ‘cannabis’, they probably immediately think about the same overused photos by the media of a marijuana plant and a joint being smoked. But legalising marijuana will be far more than that. People will be popping it between classes, sucking on it while driving, drinking it before work, chewing on it while they talk to others, and eating it as a dessert. THC concentrate is mixed into almost any type of food or drink. The potency of edibles (several times that of an average joint) and their attractiveness to kids will lead to serious problems. THC-infused products will include: coffee, ice-cream, baked goods, lolly-pops, fizzy drinks, water bottles, tea, hot cocoa, breath mints & spray, intimate oils, pills, lollies, chewing gum, marinara sauce, baklava, and many more. These new products can be delivered rectally, nasally, vaginally or squirted into the eye to reach the bloodstream faster and deliver a quicker high.”

“Marijuana is both a law and a public 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 on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“But 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?”
ENDS

Canada Already Showing Troubling Signs From Legalising Dope

Media Release 4 May 2019
A Canadian government study is showing disturbing trends already as a result of legalising marijuana, including increases in youth and overall use, and concerning trends in marijuana-impaired driving and workplace use.

The Canadian federal study released yesterday found a 27% increase in marijuana use among people aged 15 to 24 over the last year. Additionally, approximately 646,000 Canadians have reported trying marijuana for the first time in the last three months, an amount almost double the 327,000 that admitted to trying the drug for the same time period last year.

“These are disturbing trends, especially when considering the effects on mental health, addiction and public safety,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Other concerning trends include:

  • 15% of marijuana users got behind the wheel of a car within two hours of using the drug.
  • daily users were more than twice as likely to believe that it was safe for them to operate a vehicle within three hours of ingesting the drug.
  • 20% of Canadians who reported driving under the influence of marijuana admitted to also consuming alcohol at the same time.
  • about 13%, or half a million, of Canadian workers who are active marijuana users admitted to using the drug either prior to or during work.

This report comes on the heels of another study finding that the black market in Canada is absolutely thriving, with over 79% of marijuana sales in the last quarter of 2018 occurring outside the legal market.

“Canada is quickly finding out that so-called regulation of marijuana does nothing to mitigate the harms of the drug. Legalisation simply exacerbates them. 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.“.”

“Canada’s new law on legal marijuana demonstrates that cannabis legalisation is high in promise and expectations, but the reality is far lower. 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 crashesyouth 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. Portugal has seen a rise in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco consumption and of every illicit psychoactive substance (affected by the weight of cannabis use in those aged 15-74) in the last five years.”

“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.”
ENDS

 

ASA Rejects Complaint Against Second Cannabis Billboard

Media Release 30 April 2019
Family First NZ is welcoming yet another decision by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) not to uphold a complaint against our SayNopetoDope campaign billboards. The latest billboard says ‘you can’t legalise marijuana and promote mental health’, and is currently displayed at Tip Top corner on the Southern Motorway in Auckland. A previous decision rejected complaints made against our ‘Marijuana has a kids menu’ billboard.

The Complaints Board reiterated their statements from the earlier decision which said that the advertisement “did not contain anything indecent, exploitative or degrading, did not cause fear or distress and was socially responsible” and “it was not likely to mislead consumers.”

“At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, we should go no 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,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

The latest study on the effects of marijuana, published in the February edition of JAMA Psychiatry, summarised 11 studies comprising 23,317 individuals. The research said, “the high prevalence of adolescents consuming cannabis generates a large number of young people who could develop depression and suicidality attributable to cannabis. This is an important public health problem and concern.”

This is consistent with the Christchurch Health and Development Study research which has shown that the use of cannabis was 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. These effects were most evident for young (under 18-year-old) users and could not be explained by social demographic and contextual factors associated with cannabis use. 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.

Research led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (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, the study found.

Colorado toxicology reports show the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana has increased since the legalisation of marijuana. This disturbing trend is, unfortunately, not surprising, as daily marijuana use among youth who begin before the age of 17 significantly increases the risk of suicide attempts.

“Drug use is a major health issue, and that’s why the role of the law is so important. This is a defence of our brains and mental well-being. The public of New Zealand are not getting this information. Our billboards are designed to raise these inconvenient truths – and to provoke debate and discussion.”
ENDS

ASA says anti-cannabis billboard ‘socially responsible’

Media Release 13 March 2019
Family First NZ is welcoming a decision by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) not to uphold any of the complaints made against its ‘marijuana has a kids menu’ billboard.

There were seven complaints about the advertisement, with complainants arguing that the ad was misleading, made unsubstantiated claims and played on fear. But the Complaints Board has rejected those complaints, saying “the advertisement draws the public’s attention to some of the different types of cannabis products that might be available for sale in New Zealand, if recreational cannabis is made legal.” They said the advertisement “did not contain anything indecent, exploitative or degrading, did not cause fear or distress and was socially responsible.”

A separate complaint about the inappropriate use of the word ‘marijuana’ was also thrown out.

“We believe it is time to end the practice of illustrating all marijuana-related news stories and educational materials with the same overused photos of a marijuana plant and a joint being smoked. The public deserves to be informed about the wide variety of products and THC potencies sold in legal marijuana markets around the world. What is most concerning is that the marijuana industry is targeting young people with child-attractive child-friendly products,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“When people think about ‘cannabis’, they probably immediately think about a joint. But legalising marijuana will be far more than that. People will be popping it between classes, sucking on it while driving, drinking it before work, chewing on it while they talk to others, and eating it as a dessert. THC concentrate is mixed into almost any type of food or drink. The potency of edibles (several times that of an average joint) and their attractiveness to kids have led to serious problems in legalised states like Colorado. THC-infused products include: coffee, ice-cream, baked goods, lolly-pops, fizzy drinks, water bottles, tea, hot cocoa, breath mints & spray, intimate oils, pills, lollies, chewing gum, marinara sauce, baklava, and many more. These new products can be delivered rectally, nasally, vaginally or squirted into the eye to reach the bloodstream faster and deliver a quicker high.”

“The public of New Zealand are not getting this information. Our billboard is designed to raise this inconvenient truth – and to provoke debate and discussion,” says Mr McCoskrie

Family First has other billboards in its campaign including “The new face of Big Tobacco”, “The Referendum is about legalising recreational cannabis. Medicinal is already legal” and “You can’t legalise cannabis and promote mental health”.
ENDS

Students Get Green Light For Dangerous Drug Use

Media Release 19 February 2019
Family First NZ says that allowing drug use and drug testing at university orientation weeks is flawed and dangerous, and is being used by drug-friendly groups and a government apparently soft-on-drugs as a wedge for the normalisation of drug use.

“The Otago Student’s University Association is confused when they say that they ‘in no way condones drug use of any kind’ and that this is a ‘proactive move against drug use’. To most thinking people, that is laughable. Promoting and requiring drug-free events (similar to alcohol and smoke-free events) is not a ‘hardline’ approach – it’s a health and safety approach based on best practice. Drug overdoses are a huge concern, and testing won’t protect users because there is no such thing as a safe drug,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Pill testing will be seen by many students as a clear endorsement of drug use. It sends a message that illicit drugs are acceptable and can be ‘safe’, and will worsen harmful drug use, so that more lives will be put at risk with the belief that the drug they are taking is somehow ‘safe’.”

“Pill testing also does not – and cannot – guarantee that the drug being taken will not cause any physical or mental harm or death to the individual consumer. It also cannot account for the individual’s physiological response to each drug.”

“It is being promoted by drug friendly groups – which says it all.”

Drug-Free Australia has provided research showing that according to the medical literature the accelerating number of Australian deaths from ecstasy are mostly not from overdosing, nor, according to coroners’ reports, are they due to impurities in party pills – but rather from individual reactions to drugs.

The President of Drug Free Australia recently sent an Open Letter to NZ politicians, saying
“We are urging you, as a parliamentarian who makes evidence-based decisions for the well-being of your nation’s individuals, to totally reject any further discussion on pill testing in New Zealand until such time as its advocates have demonstrated from available NZ Coroners’ reports that

  1. it is NOT the substance MDMA, or MDMA in a polydrug use context, which is chiefly responsible for the many NZ deaths; or
  2. that most of the deaths are alternately from MDMA consumed in amounts beyond what is considered normal for recreational use.”

“If pill testing is pursued with government approval, the inevitable result will be more people willing to use the substance on the false assumption that they are now safe.”

“This is simply another ‘facilitated’ ill-informed decision to consume illicit drugs. Students should enjoy orientation week and stop playing Russian Roulette with drugs and with their lives.”

“Advice from Victoria Police tells us it can give people a false and potentially fatal sense of security about illicit drugs.”
Victorian government spokesman, Jan 2019.

Public statements made by politicians that the trial would help ‘keep people safe’ were potentially misleading. MDMA is not a safe drug… The whole concept is based on the false assumption that if you do know what you’re taking, it is safe – something that is absolutely untrue.”
Toxicologist Andrew Leibie, from Safework Laboratories, Oct 2017
ENDS

NZ Mental Health Will Worsen If Dope Legalised

Media Release 14 February 2019 
Family First NZ says that the latest study on the effects of marijuana prove that New Zealand would be foolish to legalise marijuana in any way, and that the illegality of the drug and other drugs is vital as we fight the devastation its use causes on both the users, their families, and society in general.

The study, published in the latest edition of JAMA Psychiatry summarised 11 studies comprising 23,317 individuals. The research said, “the high prevalence of adolescents consuming cannabis generates a large number of young people who could develop depression and suicidality attributable to cannabis. This is an important public health problem and concern.”

This is consistent with the Christchurch Health and Development Study research which has shown that the use of cannabis was 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. These effects were most evident for young (under 18-year-old) users and could not be explained by social demographic and contextual factors associated with cannabis use. 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.

Research led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (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, the study found.

Colorado toxicology reports show the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana has increased since the legalisation of marijuana. This disturbing trend is, unfortunately, not surprising, as daily marijuana use among youth who begin before the age of 17 significantly increases the risk of suicide attempts.

“A sensible drug policy should recognise three pillars – similar to the successful approach towards SmokeFree NZ

  • 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. The primary purpose is not to keep users using, but reduce and help them exit drug use.

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 on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“But at a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, we should go no 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.”

“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 and mental well-being. People should always come before profits.””

If the government is in to a ‘well-being’ budget, legalising marijuana should be nowhere on the agenda.
ENDS

JUST RELEASED: Briefing for Families

Are you ready for the debate on legalising marijuana? We are – and we’re here to help you.

DOWNLOAD our new 24-page Briefing for Families.

You can also click HERE for 1-page Briefing Sheets on specific issues.

Topics covered include:

  • what are the known health harms of marijuana?
  • why is the referendum much more than just being able to ‘smoke a joint’?
  • the problems with statements like “the war on drugs has failed” and “it’s a health issue, not a legal issue
  • what effect will legalisation have in the workplace, on road safety, with pregnant mums and young people, on family violence & child abuse, and will it really get rid of the ‘black market’ and gang involvement?
  • is growing marijuana ‘green’?
  • what’s the next step in this whole agenda?

Get past the ‘smokescreen’. These education resources will help you campaign with us against any attempts to legalise marijuana (and ultimately other drugs, according to pro-marijuana groups) in New Zealand.

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?