Media Release 24 September 2011
Family First NZ is labeling calls by ACT party leader Don Brash to decriminalise marijuana as dangerous and dopey, and questions how committed the party really is to the policy.
“A weak-kneed approach to marijuana 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,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Dr Brash also misunderstands the real harm that personal consumption of the drug actually does.”
“Marijuana has 50-70% more cancer-causing material than cigarette smoke, and 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.”
“Supporters of legalisation would have us believe that cannabis is a gentle, harmless substance that gives users little more than a sense of mellow euphoria and hurts no one else.”
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. And the London Institute of Psychiatry found there was a “very clear link between psychiatric illness and marijuana use”.
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.
“What the ACT party should be calling for is better treatment facilities for addiction and mental illness. A zero-tolerance approach to the use of drugs combined with treatment options is a far better solution,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“A proposal to go soft on drug use and drug dealing at any level should be completely rejected.