Family First NZ is rejecting recommendations by the Law Commission to soften punishments for drug dealing and personal drug use, labeling the ideas flawed, dangerous and dopey.
“The ‘softly-softly’ approach has been a spectacular failure in terms of general crime levels. Why would we ever think that it would work with drug abuse,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“A weak-kneed approach to drug use will simply send all the wrong messages that small amounts of drug use or dealing aren’t that big a deal – the completely wrong message, especially for younger people. A cautioning scheme will simply be held in contempt by users, and fails to acknowledge the harm done by drug use which is undetected.”
“At a time when we finally understand the harms of cigarette smoking, we suddenly think that there is limited harm with marijuana that has 50-70% more cancer-causing material than cigarette smoke, and for which there is strong evidence that it is a gateway drug to harder drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and P. There are also links between drug use and poor educational outcomes, unsafe sexual practices, poor work attendance, and serious mental health issues.”
“The report is correct to call for better treatment facilities for addiction and mental illness, but a zero-tolerance approach to the use of drugs combined with treatment options is a far better solution,” says Mr McCoskrie.
A recent UK Government-commissioned report quoted in The Lancet found that a single joint of cannabis raises the risk of schizophrenia by more than 40 per cent and taking the drug regularly more than doubles the risk of serious mental illness.
An Australian study from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW found previous drug use is driving the growing use of amphetamines by young adults.
And a study from the University of Washington published in Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found that children of smokers, heavy drinkers, or marijuana users are more likely to have behavior problems when they are young, and consequently more likely to have drug problems themselves as they get old.
The Christchurch Health and Development study found that “dopey driving” was more common than drink-driving.
“A proposal to go soft on drug use and drug dealing at any level should be completely rejected,” says Mr McCoskrie.