Media Release 20 October 2017
Family First NZ says that the Green party have now declared their true intention – to legalise dope – and a strong campaign will be run to encourage families to ‘say nope to dope’ in any upcoming referendum.
“Legalising marijuana and the rise of Big Marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people. There are too many health risks including the effect of marijuana on cognitive ability, cardiac function and psychosis,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Families simply don’t want marijuana plants being grown next door by dope dealers in view of the children, tinnie houses on street corners and pot shops in local shopping areas, or marijuana being disguised as lollies and edibles as has happened overseas. Colorado, for example, has more marijuana businesses than McDonalds and Starbucks combined.”
“It remains highly ironic that at the same time as we 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. But of course, a new business market is all very exciting – especially one based on addiction. Could our current mental health services cope? They can’t even cope now,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Past chair of the NZMA Dr Stephen Child exposes the paradox that New Zealand finds itself in right now. “How can we tout ‘Smokefree 2025’ while we discuss legalising an inhaled product with more than 100 harmful substances?”
University of Queensland Centre for Youth Substance Abuse professor Wayne Hall warns that legalising the drug would likely have the most significant impact on current users. “The people who already enjoy using it when it’s illegal will use more heavily and more frequently when it’s cheaper and decriminalised. Those who used cannabis frequently (more than once a week) were most likely to suffer effects to their health and wellbeing.”
“Drug use is both a criminal and a health issue. There is a false dichotomy that criminal sanctions apparently 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.
The Vote Compass survey run by TVNZ rebuts the spurious and vested interest claims made by NORML and the Drug Foundation that NZ’ers want marijuana laws liberalised. An independent 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll in July also showed New Zealanders equally divided over the issue.
Statistics obtained from the Ministry of Justice by Family First NZ under the Official Information Act show that less than 10 people have been given a prison sentence for cannabis possession offences in each of the last three years, and that even these sentences may be ‘influenced by their previous offending history’.
“While Family First welcomes a cautious approach based on extensive research and appropriate safeguards around medicinal marijuana, any hint of legalising marijuana is the wrong path,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Don’t let NZ go to pot. The grass is not always greener.”