Soft Marijuana Drug Laws Would Damage Youth

Media Release 10 September 2014
Family First NZ says that local research just released showing the harms of marijuana to young people should confirm that any attempts to decriminalise marijuana should be firmly rejected.

The study which included research from the University of Otago’s Christchurch Health and Development Study shows the dangerous outcomes of marijuana use including decreased high school completion and degree attainment, and increased cannabis dependence, use of other illicit drugs, suicide attempts, depression and welfare dependence.

“Decriminalising marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health and public safety, and about our young people,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“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 that an age limit will protect teenagers.”

Colorado is offering a disturbing preview of what may happen if we decriminalise marijuana. A just-released government report has revealed the drug is infiltrating Colorado schools, which now have lists of young people waiting to get help.

“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.

“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.

In Family First’s Value Your Vote election resource, Conservatives, National, NZ First and United Future all oppose decriminalisation. ACT, Maori, and Greens support decriminalisation. Labour has suggested that it is not one of their policies but seem to support decriminalisation, while Internet/Mana send conflicting messages.
ENDS