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Dale Bramley: Dope is harmless? You must be high

Dr Dale Bramley is a public health physician and chief executive of Waitemata District Health Board.
NZ Herald 11 April 2014
Our additional comment:“As the district health board (DHB) responsible for running drug and alcohol addiction therapy services for the Auckland region, our staff see the clinical and social impacts of cannabis use on a daily basis. More than 14,000 clients are seen by our Community Alcohol and Drug Services each year. Of these, more than 15 per cent present with issues relating to cannabis use. There may be a perception that cannabis is benign. But staff running mental health, addiction and emergency services can tell you beyond doubt that it’s otherwise. We see on a daily basis the issues that cannabis use can have for people in their daily lives. Our clinicians see how it can exacerbate existing issues such as mental illness and dependencies on other substances, and how it is associated with poorer overall health… Let’s not convey the message – especially to our young – that cannabis is harmless. It is not. Any initiative that potentially makes cannabis more freely available will only further increase the burden of medical, psychological and social problems cannabis use has on our health system and our communities.”

The ban last month of so-called legal highs came as a welcome relief to staff at Waitemata District Health Board, particularly our doctors, nurses and mental health workers who see first-hand the effects synthetic cannabinoids can have.

As the discussion around synthetic cannabinoids evolved in the public sphere, it was not unexpected that talk would soon turn to the issue of decriminalising cannabis.

As the district health board (DHB) responsible for running drug and alcohol addiction therapy services for the Auckland region, our staff see the clinical and social impacts of cannabis use on a daily basis.

More than 14,000 clients are seen by our Community Alcohol and Drug Services each year. Of these, more than 15 per cent present with issues relating to cannabis use.

There may be a perception that cannabis is benign. But staff running mental health, addiction and emergency services can tell you beyond doubt that it’s otherwise.

We see on a daily basis the issues that cannabis use can have for people in their daily lives. Our clinicians see how it can exacerbate existing issues such as mental illness and dependencies on other substances, and how it is associated with poorer overall health.

Cannabis smokers often have the same respiratory problems as those of tobacco smokers, such as daily cough, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections. Simply put, people who smoke cannabis have more health problems and miss more days of work than those that don’t.

The link between chronic cannabis use and mental illness is well-proven. A substantial number of individuals presenting to our mental health services have their presenting problem complicated or worsened because of the use of cannabis.

Smokers of cannabis are about 2.6 times more likely to have a psychotic episode than non-smokers.
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11271358

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Former cop, youth worker and bereaved father against cannabis legislation

Stuff co.nz 23 June 2020
Our additional comment: South Cantabrians are against a groundbreaking proposal to change New Zealand’s cannabis laws, include a former senior sergeant, youth worker and bereaved father – and they’re hoping their experiences may help inform others ahead of September’s referendum.
Former police officer Mark Offen points out that alcohol reform has not protected youth, and he sees the proposed new bill in the same light. “The alcohol age limit is 18, but the defacto limit is 12 or 13. It will be the same with cannabis, the limit of 20 will see 14 and 15 year-olds trying it.”

South Cantabrians against a groundbreaking proposal to change New Zealand’s cannabis laws, include a former senior sergeant, youth worker and bereaved father – and they’re hoping their experiences may help inform others ahead of September’s referendum.

Voters will get the opportunity to decide for or against the Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill at the general election in September. The bill, which aims to regulate production, supply and consumption of cannabis to those aged 20 and over, has already drawn mixed reactions.

One of those who opposes the changes, is former senior sergeant Mark Offen – who spent 30 years working on the front line and has seen the impact of drug use first hand.

“Once the genie is out of the bottle you can’t put it back,” warns Offen.

Offen, who left the police force four years ago, is concerned that there was no evidence that the legislation was the best thing to do as academic experts on both sides of the argument presented equally compelling points of view.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/news/121420223/former-cop-youth-worker-and-bereaved-father-against-cannabis-legislation
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Pot and teens – I’m a mom and a doctor, here’s what I tell my own teenagers

Fox News 2 March 2019
Our additional comment: “Many teenagers believe marijuana is harmless because they consider it natural – it comes from a plant rather than a lab. But heroin, psychedelic mushrooms and other harmful drugs also come from plants. Some plants are even poisonous. In addition, today’s marijuana plants are grown differently than in prior decades and can contain two to three times more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the addictive ingredient that causes the sought-after psychoactive and mood-related effects – the marijuana high. It doesn’t help that marijuana can be consumed in different ways. It can be smoked, mixed into foods and even brewed as tea. This may be enticing to the younger population. But as research and discussions continue, it is becoming clear that both short-term and long-term marijuana use can cause serious problems with physical and mental health.”
#VoteNopeToDope

There’s been an alarming rise in teenage marijuana use across the U.S. and it’s now at its highest level in 30 years. One reason may be that 10 states and the District of Columbia now allow recreational use of pot by adults, while 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.

Lawmakers in other states are considering legalization of the drug.

There’s a common misconception that marijuana is safer than alcohol and other drugs. As a medical doctor I know that marijuana is far from harmless and can have serious damaging effects on the health of users. A growing body of research confirms this.

And as a mother of three sons (one in college), I worry that legalizing the drug for adults sends a clear message to children that they can get high on pot with no negative impact on their health.

Yet a growing number of Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for nationwide legalization of marijuana, realizing this is a politically popular cause, particularly among young voters. These candidates appear more interested in how their endorsement of legalized pot will affect their election hopes than in how legalization will affect public health.
READ MORE: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/pot-and-teens-im-a-mom-and-a-doctor-heres-what-i-tell-my-own-teenagers

Mike Hosking: We’re being played for fools over the weed vote

NZ Herald 18 June 2020
Our additional comment: “All such agencies should be explicitly prevented from taking the sort of stance that the (Drug) foundation has. The fact they are not prevented from this activity drags the main funder of the group – the Government – into play and stretches the idea of their neutrality. The fact that the Government raised the issue, initiated the vote and allegedly quite independently then have one of the agencies they heavily fund backing the change is asking a lot of us in terms of believing their transparency and credibility. And what makes it even more insidious is that the foundation have used their platform to raise money.”
Yep.

COMMENT: I view it as a very good sign that the Drug Foundation tried to slip the old medicinal line into their advertising.

It’s the line that’s led to dozens of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.

It’s the line that had Dr Kate Baddock of the Medical Association saying it’s rubbish, it’s completely misleading.

It’s the line that had the academic Bill Hodge saying it’s misleading and deceptive.

It is indeed.

Why did they do it? Because they are scared, they are scared the polls haven’t gone the way they would have hoped, they are scared this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get things legally sorted the way they would like, and they are scared they are going to lose.

The question is not really whether it’s misleading. I will be astonished if the authority doesn’t rule against them. The question is – is it too late?

Wheels turn slowly at authorities who gather to review rules.

By the time they meet, debate, decide and release their findings, it may well be too late. The deed might have had the desired affect – to suck in the vulnerable.
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12340362

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Medical cannabis users still source illicitly DESPITE legalisation (Australia)

How Australians use medical cannabis since legislation: new survey
University of Sydney 17 June 2020
Australians report using medicinal cannabis for chronic pain, mental health and sleep with the majority sourcing cannabis illicitly, despite medicinal cannabis being legal, a new survey from the University of Sydney has revealed.

The results from the Cannabis As Medicine Survey (CAMS:18), conducted by staff at the Discipline of Addiction Medicine in conjunction with the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, provide insight into how Australians are using cannabis as medicine.

The results of the previous Cannabis As Medicine Survey (CAMS:16), the biggest national survey of medicinal cannabis users in Australia in more than a decade, provided a snapshot of people self-medicating before any medicinal cannabis use was legalised.

The aim of the two-year follow-up survey was to monitor changes in how Australians were accessing and using medical cannabis following its legalisation in 2016. The survey of 1388 Australians was conducted between September 2018 and March 2019.

Key findings

    • Illicit sources of cannabis appear to be the mainstay for patients despite two years of legal availability of medicinal cannabis, with only 2.7 percent of respondents accessing legal product.
    • The impediments to obtaining a prescription include the cost of products, the difficulties in locating a doctor willing to prescribe and the perception that a person’s usual doctor was not interested in investigating medicinal cannabis as a treatment option.
    • The survey revealed that pain, mental health (mainly anxiety and depression) and sleep remain the main clinical indications for which participants report using cannabis medicinally.
    • There is a current lack of clinical guidance for conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia – highlighting an urgent need for more clinical trials.
    • Results indicate a positive move away from smoking (joints, bongs) to non-smoked cannabis-based products (vaporised cannabis, oral products) since the CAMS-16 survey.
    • While most respondents in the survey continued to express disappointment with the legal models of medical cannabis availability, those who had actually pursued the illicit avenue reported quite positive experiences.
      READ MORE: https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/06/17/how-australians-use-medicinal-cannabis-illegal-survey.html
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Mental health and addiction services ‘moving backwards when it comes to Māori’ – commissioner

Radio NZ 18 June 2020
Our additional comment: “The report shows almost one in three Māori live with mental illness or addiction compared with one in five in the general population.” 
Until we can fix our mental health system, the last thing we should do is add demand by legalising a mind-altering drug such as cannabis.

Mental health and addiction services have got worse for Māori since work began to overhaul the system nearly two years ago and serious gaps remain for young mums and those in forensic units, according to a new report from the mental health commissioner, Kevin Allan.

Allan, who released his latest monitoring report yesterday, said those with serious and complex problems were still missing out.

He noted there had been “significant progress” since his last full report – He Ara Oranga in 2018 – especially in early support available through primary and community care and in laying the foundations for a new stand-alone Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, which will be up and running in 2021.

However, many of the problems highlighted in the report were “stubbornly similar” to those raised previously, he said.

“We’re moving backwards when it comes to Māori.”

The report shows:

  • Almost one in three Māori live with mental illness or addiction compared with one in five in the general population.
  • In 2018 (the latest available figures), 6317 people were subject to a community treatment order (compulsory treatment), an increase of three percent over one year, of whom 38 percent were Māori.
  • 44 percent of those put in seclusion (where patients at risk of self-harm or violence towards others are confined to an empty cell to “calm down”).
  • Suicide is the leading cause of maternal mortality, with Māori whānau most affected.

There were, however, signs of progress, including increased investment in kaupapa Māori approaches, Allan said.

“All services need to work for Māori and be culturally safe. Strengthening Māori participation and leadership in the design and delivery of services is essential – both for improving outcomes and meeting obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

Another area in need of urgent attention was the lack of specialist forensic services.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/419262/mental-health-and-addiction-services-moving-backwards-when-it-comes-to-maori-commissioner
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Patrick Walsh: A yes vote on cannabis referendum will be a disaster for young people

NZ Herald 16 June 2020
Our additional comment: Patrick Walsh is principal at Rotorua’s John Paul College, a past president of the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand, and a member of SAM-NZ – a coalition of community leaders and groups promoting a NO vote in the cannabis referendum.

COMMENT:
No one disputes that marijuana is a harmful, addictive drug that has adverse effects on the physical and mental wellbeing of users.

These effects are accentuated on developing teenage brains.

Legalising cannabis use is in effect “legitimising” it so we will see an inevitable increase in its use by teenagers. My experience as a secondary school principal of 17 years tells me we will see more teenagers take it up if legalised.

This in turn will lead to more of the following behaviours in teenage users; driving while drugged, depression, suicidal ideation, poor academic results, truanting, and antisocial behaviour including crime and violence.

I have no confidence that the regulation proposed in the bill will work. Regulation has been a dismal failure with alcohol where binge drinking and drunk driving by under 18-year-olds remain persistent problems despite laws in place prohibiting it.

The same could also be said of vaping and synthetic cannabis which many teenagers engage in and where the law has failed miserably. We do not wish to criminalise teenagers for using cannabis and certainly the first options should always be an educative and therapeutic approach.

If this fails however there must be a final deterrent by having it remain on the statute books as a crime.

As a principal I have seen first hand the devastating effects of cannabis use on teenagers, their whanau and other victims. These other victims include the innocent drivers they hit, those assaulted and employers when there is a no show at work.

To be clear, I fully support medicinal use of cannabis prescribed by a doctor with a clear medical purpose. What we are being asked however in this referendum is to vote “Yes” to recreational cannabis use so people can get a legal high.
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12339944

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Think Ya Know? Is Marijuana a Risk Factor for Violence?

Warning Graphic Subject Matter

Parents Opposed to Pot is bringing awareness to the link between marijuana and violence in America, but we want the public to know that our hearts break for all the victims and their families and friends. Many of us are victims too. This was a difficult video to produce but the public needs to know marijuana is a risk factor for violence, especially today’s high potency marijuana.

Resources for Think Ya Know? Is Marijuana a Risk Factor for Violence?

Metanalysis- “Cannabis use in this population is a risk factor for violence.”
https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/…

Tell Your Children the Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence
https://www.simonandschuster.com/book…

Cases of cannabis-induced psychosis increase during COVID-19 pandemic
https://www.daily-chronicle.com/2020/…

Arizona child deaths marijuana
https://www.azdhs.gov/documents/preve…

Florida child deaths
https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.fadaa.org/r…

Texas child deaths
https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/About_DF…

Lewisville Texas, father kills 16-month old son
https://www.foxnews.com/us/texas-dad-…
https://cbsaustin.com/news/local/nort…

1st day of marijuana legalization 2 shot in home invasion to steal marijuana. 9-year-old home
https://komonews.com/news/local/polic…

Richard Kirk kills wife after consuming marijuana candy
https://www.rmpbs.org/blogs/news/excl…

A 15-year-old boy died and a 14-year-old is possibly paralyzed after apparently trying to steal marijuana plants from a Denver backyard.

https://www.9news.com/article/news/cr…

Deputy Parish
https://castlerocknewspress.net/stori…

Fountain Colorado 2 teens shot marijuana drug deal, brought 1 year to drug deal
https://www.kktv.com/content/news/2-t…

Columbine shooting
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2…
https://www.denverpost.com/1999/04/21...

Tucson shooter
https://www.laweekly.com/marijuana-tu…

Colorado Theater Shooter
https://www.laweekly.com/james-holmes…

Dylan Roof church shooter
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/17/us…

Colorado Springs Halloween shooter
https://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archi…

Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter
https://gazette.com/crime/robert-dear…

Kevin Janson Neal, California
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/californ…
https://nypost.com/2017/11/15/califor…

Sutherland Springs church shooter
https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/tex…

Parkland school shooter
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/…

Cannabis referendum: Legalisation would be a ‘disaster’ for New Zealand – ex-detective

NewsHub 15 June 2020
Our additional comment: “The proposed potency of the drug won’t be enough for those already using it, and gangs will continue to sell to those under 20. “It’d be a disaster for New Zealand if it’s legalised. For a lot of users, 15 percent doesn’t do it to get high, so they’ll be accessing the more potent cannabis from the gangs and [the gangs will] thrive. “I wouldn’t like to see it legalised at all. I had 35 years in the police and I spent a lot of time interviewing offenders that I arrested that had cannabis issues, and a lot of them told me they regretted touching the stuff because it ruined their lives.”” – Dave Pizzini

A former detective is warning a black market will still exist and gangs will still thrive even if cannabis becomes legal after this year’s election.

Dave Pizzini, a member of the ‘Say Nope to Dope’ campaign, believes there will be a surge of negative impacts if cannabis is legalised. Kiwis will get to vote on the issue at September’s general election.

Under the proposed legislation, THC – the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis – can be restricted to a maximum of 15 percent by authorities. The legal age for purchasing it will be 20.

Advocates hope the Bill will eliminate illegal supply of the drug while raising awareness of the health risks of using it.

But Pizzini told The AM Show on Monday the proposed potency of the drug won’t be enough for those already using it, and gangs will continue to sell to those under 20.

“It’d be a disaster for New Zealand if it’s legalised. For a lot of users, 15 percent doesn’t do it to get high, so they’ll be accessing the more potent cannabis from the gangs and [the gangs will] thrive.

“I wouldn’t like to see it legalised at all. I had 35 years in the police and I spent a lot of time interviewing offenders that I arrested that had cannabis issues, and a lot of them told me they regretted touching the stuff because it ruined their lives.”

But Pizzini believes legalisation could put further strain on New Zealand’s health system, while also devastating lower socioeconomic areas.

“The cost to our mental health system, which is already overburdened, would be horrendous. It would increase crime because cannabis is a driver of crime.

“Our poor neighbourhoods will have a proliferation of pot shops, just like with the liquor shops in the late 1990s,” he told The AM Show, adding he believes legalisation would cause “devastation”.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/06/cannabis-referendum-legalisation-would-be-a-disaster-for-new-zealand-ex-detective.html
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