Don’t Let New Zealand Go To Pot, Laila

Media Release 5 June 2014
Family First NZ is rejecting calls by the Internet party leader Laila Harre to decriminalise marijuana, and says that decriminalising marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health and public safety, and about our young people.

“It is ironic that at the same time as we ban synthetic cannabis, and tear the labelling off cigarette packets, price them out of existence, and ban them from being smoked within breathing space of any living creature, supporters of marijuana are peddling the same myths that we believed for far too long about tobacco – that marijuana is harmless, and it can even have health benefits,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“But the cannabis now in circulation is many times more powerful than that typically found in the early 1990s. Naturally, growers want to sell marijuana with increased potency because it’s more addictive. With increased potency comes increased health risks, and greater likelihood of addiction.”

“Erroneous claims that drug use is a health issue and we are wasting time and resources focusing on the criminal aspect fail to understand that there has been a substantial decline in arrests for cannabis use in New Zealand over the past decade, that the maximum sentences set out in drug control statutes are rarely imposed, and offenders rarely receive anything other than a fine and a criminal record. Police diversion and Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Courts have been increasingly used.”

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

“Decriminalising marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health and public safety, and about our young people.”

“It is the illegality of the drug that has kept its use low compared to alcohol and tobacco. The restrictions on P, heroin and cocaine will never eliminate them, but they’ve prevented a pandemic.”

“A feeble approach to marijuana use will simply send all the wrong messages to our young people and to our families – that drug use isn’t that big a deal,” says Mr McCoskrie.
ENDS