Kate Hawkesby: Listen to the professionals on the harms of cannabis legalisation

NewsTalk ZB 25 September 2020
Family First Comment: “I’m in the no camp because of all the mental health professionals I’ve spoken to who work at the coal face. The ones who have no agenda around cannabis other than trying to help clean up the harm it’s done to young people’s brains, and by young people I mean under 25’s. Remember the legal age limit here will be 20. The psychiatrists and psychologists I’ve spoken to despair at the misinformation being peddled, the confusion that this is somehow a vote on medicinal – it isn’t. Or that it somehow will keep people out of prison – it won’t.”

23 days until we vote on cannabis.
You’ll know if you’re a regular listener to this show that I’m of the vote no brigade.
No, I’m not on a moral crusade, although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with moral crusades.
I’m in the no camp because of all the mental health professionals I’ve spoken to who work at the coal face. The ones who have no agenda around cannabis other than trying to help clean up the harm it’s done to young people’s brains, and by young people I mean under 25’s. Remember the legal age limit here will be 20.
The psychiatrists and psychologists I’ve spoken to despair at the misinformation being peddled, the confusion that this is somehow a vote on medicinal – it isn’t. Or that it somehow will keep people out of prison – it won’t.
It won’t have anything to do with prosecutions and convictions because most of the very small number of people jailed for cannabis are either dealers, manufacturers, or have a string of other more serious convictions to go with it. You don’t get locked up for smoking a joint.
But the health professionals I’ve spoken to say all the arguments for legalisation do not balance out, on the scale of what it practically will cost the healthcare system and the stress it’ll cause our mental health sector. A sector that is of course already stressed.
The other thing they tell me is that despite people’s best hopes, it is a gateway drug. Many of their patients are people who were just looking for bigger highs. Many of the patients they deal with say they wish they’d never touched the stuff.
So it’s not the legalising that’s problematic, it’s the normalising. That drugs are OK, that cannabis is not harmful, that as long as you smoke it legally and buy it from a government approved weed store, you’re all good.
What a message to send to young people, and I do note a lot of the pro campaigners happen to be people without children, who’ve never attempted to raise a young person.
So we want to be smokefree by 2025, but we’re happy to have people smoke weed?
READ MORE: https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/early-edition/opinion/kate-hawkesby-listen-to-the-professionals-on-the-harms-of-cannabis-legalisation/

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