ACT Party Leader’s Call on Marijuana ‘Dopey’ and Dangerous

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.


12 comments for “ACT Party Leader’s Call on Marijuana ‘Dopey’ and Dangerous

  1. Stephen.H.
    24 September 2011 at 11:49 pm

    You are right, Mr McC, about marijuana.

    Actually the greatest loss for us, I think, is the idleness and under-achieving it creates, which I can tell you from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, but that is harder to quantify.

    One wonders what Mr Brash is doing. I thought ACT was ultra-conservative. He will surely have upset some of them. Still, I won’t be sorry to see him go, with some of the amoral stands he has taken.

  2. 25 September 2011 at 12:02 am

    If we’re going to quote Lancet, I’ll point you out to these…

    ACT is not ultra-conservative, quite the opposite. They’re libertarians, and every ACT member I know is very excited by this news.

  3. 25 September 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I would have thought you’d have learned of the pitfalls of using legislation to “send a message” back in 2007.

  4. Bob
    25 September 2011 at 7:58 pm


  5. Mark
    25 September 2011 at 8:14 pm

    What how about all these highly successful alcoholics out there?

  6. Stephen.H.
    25 September 2011 at 8:28 pm


  7. 26 September 2011 at 7:18 am

    or all the people out there who are NOT alcoholics even though alcohol is legal

  8. 26 September 2011 at 7:20 am

    he would be referring to the smacking bill, which is another piece of horrible authoritarian and moralistic legislation

    just like the drug laws

  9. 26 September 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Yeah. Anti-smacking. Sue Bradford wanted an anti-smacking law to “send a message” that child abuse was not okay.

    To be honest, among other things, the anti-smacking law does send that message, but that’s not what legislation is for.

    Banning smacking might send a message about about child abuse, but you should still only ban smacking if you want to actually ban smacking, even if it sends a really good message.

    Same with drugs. If you’re happy with the consequences of cannabis prohibition, and consider that the public health and gang problems are a price worth paying for the benefit of banning it, then by all means, take that position – it’s perfectly defensible. But don’t support the status quo because it sends a message. That’s what advertising or a public information campaign is for, not the criminal law.

  10. Bob
    26 September 2011 at 4:07 pm

    What about the price of decriminalising, and the resulting fall out of poor educational outcomes, unsafe sexual practices, poor work attendance, and serious mental health issues?

    Brash’s claims that the cost of enforcement is too expensive is flawed. The cost of enforcement is preventing a blow-out in the alternate cost of harm caused.

    It costs money to enforce speed limits. Perhaps we should decriminalise speeding as well.

    I wouldn’t mind 🙂

  11. 26 September 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Of course. There are costs and benefits of both ways. You weigh up the benefits and make a call.

    Just please don’t argue that “it sends a message” is one of the benefits of prohibition.

  12. 26 September 2011 at 9:18 pm

    The book The Great Brain Robbery written by Tom Scott and Trevor Grice is an informative and accurate book that is easy to read .. lots of pics and cartoons … on the effects of various drugs both long term and short term on brain function and body function.
    Since the publication of this book, the evidence of many studies has been published on the dangerous effects of cannaboids on the body.

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