Media Release 4 Sep 2014
Family First NZ is rejecting calls by Internet party’s Laila Harre to decriminalise marijuana, and says that decriminalising marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people, which is apparently their target audience.
“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. The research has clearly busted that myth. And the cannabis now in circulation is many times more powerful than that typically found in the early 1990s,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“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.
Colorado is offering a disturbing preview of what may happen if we decriminalise marijuana. A just-released government report have revealed a sharp increase in pot-related calls to poison control; seizures have quadrupled; two deaths so far are attributed to marijuana overdoses; neighbouring states are experiencing a surge in pot use; and advertising through every available medium blankets the State, desensitising people to the risks. Perhaps most troubling, the drug is infiltrating Colorado schools, which now have lists of young people waiting to get help. Teens who use pot face nearly twice the risk of addiction as adult users, and juvenile usage increases the brain damage associated with the drug.
“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.”
“Decriminalising marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health and public safety, and about our young people. We will then start sending the message that marijuana isn’t that big a deal and that adults got the ‘say no to drugs’ message wrong,” says Mr McCoskrie.
In Family First’s Value Your Vote election resource, Conservatives, Maori, National, NZ First and United Future all oppose decriminalisation. Labour have also suggested that it is not one of their policies.