Supporters of decriminalisation 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. But the cannabis now in circulation is many times more powerful than that typically found in the early 1990s with up to a 25-fold increase in the amount of the main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabidinol (THC). Naturally, growers want to sell marijuana with increased potency because it is more addictive. With increased potency comes increased health risks, greater likelihood of addiction, and the potential gateway to other and often more harmful drugs. 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. 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.
Regarding medicinal marijuana, Family First supports further quality research into the components of the marijuana plant for delivery via non-smoked forms, and supports the establishment of emergency programmes that allow seriously ill patients non-smoked components of marijuana approved and listed by the Ministry of Health. But New Zealanders need to be aware of the smoke-screen of ‘medicinal marijuana’. The strategy of groups who want dope legalised is to promote medicinal marijuana which simply manipulates society’s compassion for people with serious pain and health concerns. There should be caution around this issue, but we also support a compassionate, safe and effective response to those in real need.
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