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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?

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

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

Labour / Greens Playing Cynical Politics With Cannabis Medicine

Media Release 17 Oct 2018
Family First NZ believes that Labour and Greens are playing cynical politics with the cannabis medicine issue because of the upcoming referendum on recreational dope, and patients who could benefit will be the ones that suffer.

“Despite our strong opposition to the liberalisation of recreational dope laws, we have always supported a cautious and researched approach around cannabis medicine, and we also support a compassionate response to those in real need. But it appears to us that the government is ignoring a good option presented by MP Dr Shane Reti simply because they want to delay the issue so that it causes a ‘smokescreen’ and muddies the water around the legal dope referendum,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The potential benefits around medicinal cannabinoids are being used by recreational drug advocates worldwide to manipulate society’s compassion for people with serious pain and health concerns in order to achieve their own liberal drug agenda. We believe that Labour and Greens are deliberately delaying the timing of cannabis medicine regulations in New Zealand to try and influence the outcome of the referendum.”

“If that were not the case, they could easily adopt Dr Reti’s bill and genuine patients could be benefiting as early as 2019.”

“The earlier bill by Green MP Chloe Swarbrick was rightly rejected because it failed the test in terms of public health, public safety, and protecting our young people and was effectively ‘legalisation-lite’. And the Labour bill also had a number of shortcomings. We believe Dr Reti’s regime ticks the boxes in terms of dealing with the concerns we raised in our submission of efficacy and safety being paramount.”

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.

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

Family First is calling on the government to adopt Dr Reti’s bill.

READ Family First Submission to the Government’s Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill 2018 Bill
Briefing Paper sent to all MPs http://saynopetodope.org.nz/medicinal/
ENDS

Portugal A Success? You Be The Judge!

Portugal’s drug decriminalisation in 2001 is touted as the positive example New Zealand should aspire to. The basis for such a proposition was based on a 2009 report by the libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. But the report has been shown to have many shortcomings and weaknesses.

Basically, decriminalisation did not trigger dramatic changes in drug-related behaviour because, as an analysis of Portugal’s pre-decriminalisation laws and practices reveals, the reforms were more modest than suggested by the media attention they received.

In 2010, the Obama Administration essentially dismissed the Cato report stating it was “difficult, however, to draw any clear, reliable conclusions from the report regarding the impact of Portugal’s drug policy changes.”

The reports limitations included:
* supporting analysis not definitive – sometimes focusing on prevalence rate changes as small as 0.8%.
* fails to recognize other factors – the report attributes favourable trends as a direct result of decriminalisation without acknowledging, for example, the decline in drug-related deaths that began prior to decriminalisation.
* adverse data trends not reported – adverse social effects – such as the increase in drug-related deaths in Portugal between 2004 and 2006 – is sometimes ignored, downplayed, or not given equal recognition.
* core drug‐use reduction claims not conclusive – as “proof” of drug legalisation’s success, the report trumpets a decline in the rate of illicit drug usage among 15- to 19- year-olds from 2001 to 2007, while ignoring increased rates in the 15-24 age group and an even greater increase in the 20-24 population over the same period. In a similar vein, the report emphasises decreases in lifetime prevalence rates for the 13-18 age group from 2001 to 2006 and for heroin use in the 16-18 age group from 1999 to 2005. But, once again, it downplays increases in the lifetime prevalence rates for the 15-24 age group between 2001 and 2006, and for the 16-18 age group between 1999 and 2005.

Additional Studies Offer More Contradictory Evidence

Statistics compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) indicate that between 2001 and 2007, lifetime prevalence rates for cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, and LSD have risen for the Portuguese general population (ages 15-64) and for the 15-34 age group.

Although high-school student use fell from 2001 to 2007, it rose steeply from 2006 to 2011. This included cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy.

Drug-induced deaths, which decreased in Portugal from 369 in 1999 to 152 in 2003, climbed to 314 in 2007 – a number significantly higher than the 280 deaths recorded when decriminalisation started in 2001.

Between 2012 and 2017 Lifetime Prevalence statistics for alcohol, tobacco and drugs for the general population (aged 15-64) have risen by 23%. The study saw an increase from 8.3% in 2012, to 10.2% in 2016/17, in the prevalence of illegal psychoactive substance use.

“Claims that decriminalisation has reduced drug use and had no detrimental impact in Portugal significantly exceed the existing scientific basis.”
Gil Kerlikowske, Director, US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Source: Personal letter cited in Manuel Pinto Coelho, Op. Cit., 2010

“A thorough report in 2011 by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug and Addiction (EMCDDA) presented a more nuanced picture. EMCDDA concluded that Portugal’s drug policy of depenalisation is not a “magic bullet” and that “the country still has high levels of problem drug use and HIV infection, and does not show specific developments in its drug situation that would clearly distinguish it from other European countries that have a different policy.”
UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime): Cannabis A Short Review (2012)

“Our drug problems are not solved.”
João Goulão, director-general of SICAD: the Centre for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies. Known as Portugal’s ‘drug czar’.

“There is a black market – “people don’t know what they are buying, what they are selling” – the system “is confusing”, with many people believing that decriminalisation means that drugs are legal.”
Adriana Curado, project coordinator at the GAT Harm Reduction Centre

“If it was not so troublesome to be a drug dependent, I am sure that I would not have cured myself. If I knew that it was easy for me to get my drug of choice with-out any worries, I am positively convinced that I would not be able to stop using it ever. Drugs are like that.”
Sandra – former drug dependent

It is also significant to note that Portugal recently voted down a bill proposing to legalise medicinal – including grow-your-own – cannabis, and opted for a more confined law allowing use of some medicinal cannabis.

Portugal coerces treatment and rehab, as does Sweden which reduced its drug use from the late 1970s from the highest levels in Europe to the lowest in the developed world by the early 1990s.

To summarise (courtesy of Drug Free Australia):
• Decriminalisation has increased drug use for all age-groups
• Decriminalisation has seen sharp increases amongst high-school students
• Portugal’s drug use, other than for heroin, was initially lower than European averages
• It is not clear what caused major decreases in opiate use before decriminalisation
• While drug deaths in Portugal are much lower in Portugal due to heroin being smoked or snorted rather than injected, drug overdose mortality is currently increasing
• HIV decreases are mostly not due to decriminalisation

READ MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS

Dalgarno Institute (Australia): Portugal Drug Policy – A Review of the Evidence
“The way that the Portugal Drug Policy model is ‘spun’ has more to do with Harm Reduction and/or Drug use acceptance than anything else. The current ‘positive’ (evidence and outcome ignoring) interpretation/ implementation /promotion of the Portugal Drug Policy model does not facilitate Best-Practice – Demand Reduction/Prevention (Deny or delaying uptake of illicit drugs – building resiliency into the community). Nor does it actively facilitate drug use exiting recovery from illicit drug use. Again, its tenure is more focused on ‘net community benefit’, attempting to manage the damage (and enabling of sustained/ongoing drug use) and consequently it inadvertently fosters the normalisation of an illicit drug using culture.”

Drug Free Australia: The Truth on Portugal – Countering false claims by activists concerning Portugal’s decriminalisation using its own official statistics

Dr Manuel Pinto Coelho: Drugs – the Portuguese fallace and the absurd medicalization of Europe

WHY DON’T DRUG ADVOCATES DON’T
MENTION SWEDEN OR ICELAND

Sweden and Iceland have a proven success in solidly reducing drug use, where education and rehabilitation are central.

Sweden made coerced rehabilitation and school education centrepieces of their restrictive drug policy with the result that their drug use dropped from the highest levels in Europe to the lowest in the developed world.

In 1969, Sweden concentrated heavily on law enforcement measures, but it also looked at demand reduction issues, particularly the provision of treatment services, establishing a demand reduction program operated by youth organisations. An advertising and promotion campaign was launched with literature distribution, newspaper and media advertising. The maximum penalty for serious narcotics offences was increased.

Finally, in 1984 the government adopted its vision toward creating a ‘Drug Free Sweden’. Organisations, political parties and youth organisations encouraged all the community to play an active role, stating: “Everybody who comes in contact with the problem must be engaged. The authorities can never relieve [individuals] from personal responsibility and participation. Efforts by parents, family and friends are especially important. Also, schools and non-governmental organisations are important instruments in the struggle against drugs.”

A study conducted in 2000 supported the view that the new, tougher policy had had a preventive effect on drug use.

A report by the UNODC praised Sweden for having one of the lowest drug usage rates in the western world, and attributed this to a drug policy that invested heavily in prevention and treatment (including free community services), as well as in strict law enforcement.

The Swedish drug policy has the support of Swedes. The priorities are:
* Coerced rehabilitation
* Education
* Maintenance of criminal sanctions

This means that decriminalisation of drug use is seen as an impediment to seeking a drug-free society.

READ MORE

Sweden National Association for a Drug-Free Society (RNS): The Swedish Drug Policy Experience: Past to Present

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): Sweden’s Successful Drug Policy – A Review Of The Evidence

Iceland reduced its illicit drug use by 50% by concentrating on resilience-based education in their schools.

READ MORE

Harvey Milkman, Professor Emeritus, Metropolitan State University of Denver: Iceland succeeds at reversing teenage substance abuse. World should look!

 

ADDITIONAL READING ON PORTUGAL

Portugal decriminalised drugs resulting in teen use doubling in a decade
Daily Mail 31 October 2014
The nation held up by the Liberal Democrats yesterday as a shining example of how to win the war on drugs is far from the unqualified success story they make out.

For the number of children using drugs in Portugal has more than doubled since the country’s laws were liberalised, the latest figures show. A decade after the law was relaxed, nearly a fifth of 15 and 16-year-olds use drugs – well over twice the number in the years before decriminalisation.

The controversial Home Office report commissioned by the Liberal Democrats states: ‘It is clear that there has not been a lasting and significant increase in drug use in Portugal since 2001.’ But the evidence suggests otherwise.

The most recent independent report on what is happening in Portugal shows that in 1995 eight per cent of Portuguese teenagers had tried drugs.

In 1999, when laws began to be relaxed, it was 12 per cent.

But after decriminalisation in 2001, it rose to 18 per cent in 2003 and 19 per cent in 2011. The picture for cannabis use is similar. In 1995, only 7 per cent of Portuguese teens had tried the drug but by 2011 the figure was 16 per cent.

Do we really want Portugal’s drug laws?
The Spectator 18 June 2017
‘The war on drugs has failed,’ asserted Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public health in the latest propaganda coup for the pro-drug lobby. Her society, along with the Faculty of Public Health, have parroted the familiar call among metropolitan liberals for drugs to be decriminalised. Their argument is that we should drop our punitive approach to drugs and be more like Portugal, which decriminalised drugs in 2001 and now, it claims, has fewer deaths from drug use that.

There are a couple of problems with this. Firstly, drug decriminalisation in Portugal is only a success if you cherry-pick your statistics carefully. If you want to make the opposite argument you can pick a few which work in the other direction – such as pointing out that there has been 40 per cent increase in homicides related to drugs, and that HIV infection related to intravenous drug use were by 2005 the third highest in Europe.

But there is another rather fundamental problem with the Royal Society for Public Health’s argument. Britain only has a punitive drugs policy in theory. In practice, we have a softer attitude even than decriminalised Portugal. Theoretically, you can get a 7-year sentence for possession of class A drugs like heroin and crack cocaine, and five years for possession of a class B drug like cannabis. Yet in practice, British drug users can, by and large, snort and smoke with impunity. A freedom of information request in 2011 revealed that only 554 people were in jail for drug possession, and a further 3501 for possession with intent to supply. Even Harry Hendron, the barrister recently convicted of supplying drugs which killed his 18-year-old Columbian boyfriend has not been sent to jail, but was given a community sentence instead.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11197559/Drug-laws-around-the-world-does-anyone-get-it-right.html

Get hooked on opiates, and the British state will even fix you up with methadone for free. There are now 140,000 state-sponsored methadone users, each of them costing taxpayers £3,000 a year. Is that really a ‘punitive’ policy?

British drug-users wouldn’t like the Portuguese regime – where, contrary to what some try to imply, drugs remain illegal. Those caught with drugs are hauled before a ‘commission for the dissuasion of drug addiction’. They may not get a criminal record but they can be fined, placed on a compulsory treatment programme, or even have their passport confiscated. I only wish we used such firm measures.

The pro-drug lobby likes to quote Portugal at us not because it wants Britain to copy what Portugal has done but because it counts on us not knowing what actually happens to drug-users in Portugal and hopes that, like the Times headline did on Thursday, 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.

Decriminalisation Of Drugs In Portugal Was Not A Success, Says Dr Manuel Pinto Coelho
Huffington Post 10 Dec 2012
…despite his country’s policies being lauded, Dr Manuel Pinto Coelho, President of the Association for a Drug Free Portugal, says decriminalisation has not worked. “Decriminalisation in Portugal was not a blessing. Decriminalisation didn’t help us. It was decriminalisation that results like this? I don’t know. It makes no sense that people say since decriminalisation drugs use fell in Portugal,” he told The Huffington Post UK, citing statistics from the White House which show an increase in drug related deaths between 2004-2006 in the country. Dr Pinto Coelho argues that viewing drug attacks as sick means the line between dealers and consumers is blurred. “There is now in Portugal a trivialisation. It is more trivial then it was before. I’m not happy with this,” he said.

“I don’t believe a society where people have addiction is part of life. There are people who are happy in the system, I believe in the treatment in the drug dependents and that it is possible to put a final part in their addiction. I believe that every system, every policy system, should have a final goal; life without drugs. I believe they can reach a life without drugs, I believe we have always to have to fight against cancer and poverty and unhappiness and hunger and drugs.” According to statistics compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) between 2001-07, after decriminalisation, more people took cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, and LSD – but decreased in neighbouring Spain between 2003-2008. “Kofi Annan said a very interesting thing – the eradication of drugs in our planet is a difficult task but we can go forward, we can go through it. Since decriminalisation in Portugal there was an increase in every single drug. In cannabis and cocaine and ecstasy and in HIV aids,” he said.

It’s high time we took a breath from marijuana commercialization, Colorado.

The Denver Post 28 September 2018
Family First Comment:  From someone who knows… 
“The marijuana industry is trying to exploit our nation’s opioid tragedy to push its own controlled substance as a panacea. Why? It’s a profit opportunity. Which is also how they see our youth. Which is why in Colorado they now sell marijuana-consumption devices that avoid detection at schools, like vape pens made to look like high-lighters and eye-liner. These are the same marketers who advertise higher and higher potency marijuana gummi candy, marijuana suppositories, and marijuana “intimate creams.” This aggressive marketing makes perfect sense in addiction industries like tobacco, alcohol, opioids, and marijuana. These industries make the vast majority of their profits from heavy users, and so they strive to create and maintain this user market. Especially when users are young and their brains are most vulnerable to addiction.” 
Don’t go there, NZ 
www.VoteNo.nz  www.SayNopeToDope.nz 

In 2012 we were told Colorado would lead the nation on a grand experiment in commercialized marijuana. Six years later — with two major industry reports just released and the state legislature and Denver City Council about to consider more expansion measures — it’s a perfect time to pause and assess some results of that experiment.

Where has our breathless sprint into full-scale marijuana commercialization led Colorado?

Well, recent reports from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, from Denver Health, from Energy Associates, from the Colorado Department of Revenue and from the City of Denver should be enough to give everyone in this race pause.

Now Colorado’s youth use marijuana at a rate 85 percent higher than the national average. Now marijuana-related traffic fatalities are up by 151 percent. Now 70 percent of 400 licensed pot shops surveyed recommend that pregnant women use marijuana to treat morning sickness. Now an indoor marijuana grow consumes 17 times more power per square foot than an average residence. Now each of the approximately one million 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 exploiting our permissive regulatory system — including Mexican cartel growers for that black market who use nerve-agent pesticides that are contaminating Colorado’s soil, waters, and wildlife.

Marijuana commercialization has led Colorado to these places.

It also has led to Colorado’s prominence in other states considering commercialization.

As the U.S. attorney leading other U.S. attorneys on marijuana issues, I have traveled the country and heard what people are saying about Colorado. Do they tout Colorado’s tax revenue from commercialized marijuana? No, because there’s been no net gain:  marijuana tax revenue adds less than one percent to Colorado’s coffers, which is more than washed out by the public health, public safety, and regulatory costs of commercialization.

Do they highlight commercialization’s elimination of a marijuana black market? No, because Colorado’s black market has actually exploded after commercialization: we have become a source-state, a theater of operation for sophisticated international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations from Cuba, China, Mexico, and elsewhere.

Do they promote our success in controlling production or containing marijuana within our borders?  No, because last year alone the regulated industry produced 6.4 metric tons of unaccounted-for marijuana, and over 80,000 black market plants were found on Colorado’s federal lands.

Does the industry trumpet its promised decrease in alcohol use? No, because Colorado’s alcohol consumption has steadily climbed since marijuana commercialization. How about the industry’s claim that marijuana will cure opioid addiction? No, a Lancet study found that heavy marijuana users end up with more pain and are more likely to abuse opioids.

Yet on that last point, the marijuana industry is trying to exploit our nation’s opioid tragedy to push its own controlled substance as a panacea. Why? It’s a profit opportunity.

Which is also how they see our youth. Which is why in Colorado they now sell marijuana-consumption devices that avoid detection at schools, like vape pens made to look like high-lighters and eye-liner.

These are the same marketers who advertise higher and higher potency marijuana gummi candy, marijuana suppositories, and marijuana “intimate creams.” This aggressive marketing makes perfect sense in addiction industries like tobacco, alcohol, opioids, and marijuana. These industries make the vast majority of their profits from heavy users, and so they strive to create and maintain this user market. Especially when users are young and their brains are most vulnerable to addiction.

I’m not sure the 55 percent of Coloradans who voted for commercialization in 2012 thought they were voting for all this.

These impacts are why you may start seeing U.S. attorneys shift toward criminally charging licensed marijuana businesses and their investors. After all, a U.S. attorney is responsible for public safety.

My office has always looked at marijuana solely through that lens, and that approach has not changed. But the public safety impacts of marijuana in Colorado have. Now that federal enforcement has shot down marijuana grows on federal lands, the crosshairs may appropriately shift to the public harms caused by licensed businesses and their investors, particularly those who are not complying with state law or trying to use purported state compliance as a shield.

We should pause and catch our breath before racing off again at the industry’s urging. Let’s call it “just say know.” Let’s educate ourselves about the impacts of commercialization. Let’s reclaim our right as citizens to have a say in Colorado’s health, safety, and environment. Unfettered commercialization is not inevitable. You have a say.

Bob Troyer became the U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado in 2016 after working as first assistant U.S. attorney for six years.
https://www.denverpost.com/2018/09/28/colorado-marijuana-commercialization/

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