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The Cannabis Referendum provides an opportunity for New Zealand to take another step towards the wider goal of minimising the harms of drug use in this country. Here we summarise why evidence and public health considerations support a yes vote in the Referendum.

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser recently released an overview of the academic research on the impacts of cannabis legalisation overseas, and what it might mean for New Zealand.1 This summary adds a valuable new source of information for those unsure how to vote in the upcoming Cannabis Referendum.

But what the overview does not do is examine how the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill has been carefully crafted with public health and social justice outcomes in mind. If the Referendum is successful, it will result in public health legislation with world-leading goals and aspirations that could serve as a model for other countries.

Cannabis from a public health perspective in New Zealand: where are we now?

Cannabis is New Zealand’s most commonly used illicit drug, with the latest New Zealand Health Survey figures indicating 15%, or 590,000 adults, used cannabis in the past 12 months.2

The Christchurch longitudinal study found 76.7% of participants had tried cannabis by the time they were 25.3

Use is heaviest in the group aged 15-24,2 and those aged under 25 are also the group most at risk of adverse health outcomes from cannabis use.4 While cannabis use is not harmful for most and can be beneficial for some, outcomes depend on who is using it, what they are using it for, and how often. Negative health impacts, such as psychotic illness, are experienced by a small minority, but can be serious, and disproportionately affect Māori.5

Health harms are experienced predominantly by those who start using young, use heavily and frequently, use high potency products and/or have a history of psychosis in the family.6 These are the population groups public health interventions must focus on if reducing harm is a serious goal: prohibition is not an adequate model to ensure that happens.

Crucially, the Chief Science Advisor’s summary highlighted that prohibition does not achieve the goal of reducing cannabis use by those who are unlucky enough to be caught, noting that 95% of people who were convicted of a cannabis-related offence continued to use at the same or an increased level following arrest.7 This finding ties in with European research that found no clear association between the level of penalty applying to illicit cannabis use, and overall use rates.8

Our cannabis laws are not only ineffective—they are directly harmful to those who fall foul of them. Several thousand New Zealanders each year receive a conviction for cannabis-related offences, with implications for employment, travel, education, future earnings and mental health. More than half of these convictions are for low-level offences such as possession or use of cannabis, and those affected are disproportionately young and/or Māori.9

The Chief Science Advisor’s summary points out that Māori have borne both the brunt of biased enforcement and the negative health effects of cannabis being illegal. For example, Māori are three times more likely to be arrested and convicted of a cannabis-related crime than non-Māori with the same level of use. Māori are almost twice as likely as non-Māori to go to court over a first offence and nearly seven times more likely to be charged. They are also more likely to suffer harm from cannabis use and less likely to be able to access health treatment.5

This fall-out from our drug laws is a high and inequitable price to pay for a policy that is not effective at reducing harmful use.

How does the Bill promote public health, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco regulatory approaches?

The model of cannabis legalisation proposed is not aimed at creating a new market, or encouraging people to use. In fact, one of the goals of the legislation is to reduce cannabis use over time.

Under prohibition we have very limited tools at our disposal to impact public health outcomes. Putting in place a strictly regulated legal market means a range of policy levers can be employed, targeting specific health and social outcomes. Measures to contain use include setting price limits and potency limits, making rules around packaging and age limits, taxing sales, and setting aside a levy to fund health interventions. Such an approach has been very successful at halving the rates of tobacco use in New Zealand over the past two decades.2,10

Meanwhile, yearly cannabis use prevalence, which remains unregulated, nearly doubled from 8% to 15% between 2011 and 2019.2

The proposed Bill has been drafted following the known evidence about what works to reduce use and to reduce harm from recreational drug use, and it remedies the mistakes that have historically been made in the regulation of tobacco and alcohol—such as normalising use by allowing advertisers to saturate airwaves and sports fields. Some of the key points of comparison are set out in Table 1.

Table 1: Comparison of regulatory models for substances in New Zealand.11

The Bill also guarantees product quality by ensuring all products are tested for contaminants, and that ingredients are standardised and labelled—a simple public health intervention that is not possible under prohibition.

Legalising would have an immediate effect on criminal justice outcomes. Māori advocates pushed hard last year to ensure that the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill would not replace one set of criminal penalties with another. That goal has largely been achieved, with most penalties—for example for using in a prohibited area or carrying more than 14g—being civil rather than criminal. Such a penalty would function like a speeding ticket: no one wants to get one and people change their behaviour to avoid one, but getting one usually has limited lifelong impact.

The Bill also encourages help-seeking for cannabis-related health issues. The Chief Science Advisor’s report notes that people who need help managing their cannabis use are not seeking it, and there is not enough help available. The situation is particularly dire for Māori.5

The Bill puts aside a levy from sales to support help-seeking services. A dedicated regulatory body called the Cannabis Regulatory Authority will be required to develop a harm reduction strategy and ensure this is implemented. It will cover prevention, education and treatment, and civil society will have input through the establishment of a Cannabis Advisory Committee. The Committee will act as a watchdog of the regulatory authority, and is required to include iwi and Māori representation in its membership.

It is appropriate to consider the potential for legal access to cannabis to increase harms to New Zealand society. Legalisation in other jurisdictions has been associated with increased use of cannabis by adults, though not by youth.12 This increase has the potential to result in greater harms from cannabis, including higher rates of accidents, poor mental health outcomes, and dependency.

However, the Bill provides a framework to reduce these harms through an evidence-informed policy framework. This situation contrasts sharply with the current unregulated environment. It will be imperative to contain industry and ensure that the intent of the Act remains that of improving public health rather than providing financial benefits.

Conclusions

The Cannabis Referendum is a once in a generation opportunity to place evidence-informed controls around a substance that is widely used and unregulated. A yes vote is not a vote in support of cannabis—it is a vote in support of placing public health controls around a substance that is currently left to the black market to manage.

Legalisation will not eliminate all harm from cannabis use—many of the harms we see currently will continue. Some benefits, such as reducing the size of the black market, will take time to have an effect. However, the Bill provides a coherent approach to containing harms.

There is a risk of unpredicted outcomes in every public health intervention. However, the risks of continuing with the status quo are known, and we do not think they are acceptable. Responsible legal regulation means tackling harmful use, and reducing the criminal, social and health impacts for Māori. A yes vote is a vote for health, not handcuffs.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Sam McBride, Community Alcohol and Drug Service, Te-Upoko-me-te-Whatu-o-Te-Ika Mental Health, Addictions & Intellectual Disability Sector 3DHB, New Zealand; Papaarangi Reid, Head of Department of Māori Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland; Louise Signal, Head of Department, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington; Michael G Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Prof Michael G Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Correspondence Email

michael.baker@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

1. Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Legalising cannabis in Aotearoa New Zealand: What does the evidence say? (2020). Available at: http://www.pmcsa.ac.nz/topics/cannabis/ (Accessed: 31st August 2020)

2. Ministry of Health. Annual Data Explorer 2018/19: New Zealand Health Survey [Data File]. 2019

3. Boden JM, Fergusson DM, John Horwood L. Illicit Drug use and Dependence in a New Zealand Birth Cohort. Aust. New Zeal. J. Psychiatry 2006; 40:156–163.

4. Silins E, et al. Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry 2014; 1:286–293.

5. Theodore R, Ratima M, Potiki, Waita T, Boden J, Poulton R. Cannabis, the cannabis referendum and Māori youth: a review from a lifecourse perspective. Kōtuitui New Zeal. J. Soc. Sci. Online 2020:1–17. doi:10.1080/1177083X.2020.1760897

6. Poulton RG, Brooke M, Moffitt TE, Stanton WR, Silva PA. Prevalence and correlates of cannabis use and dependence in young New Zealanders. N Z Med J 1997; 110:68–70.

7. Fergusson DM, Swain-Campbell NR, Horwood LJ. Arrests and convictions for cannabis related offences in a New Zealand birth cohort. Drug Alcohol Depend 2003; 70:53–63.

8. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Cannabis legislation in Europe: An overview. Cannabis Legislation in Europe (Publications Office of the European Union, 2018). doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16248-0_32

9. Ministry of Justice. Drug Offences 2010 - 2019 [Data File]. (2020).

10. Ministry of Health. Tobacco use 2012/13: New Zealand Health Survey. (2014).

11. New Zealand Drug Foundation. Vote Yes FAQs. (2020). Available at: http://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/policy-and-advocacy/vote-yes/faqs/ (Accessed: 17th September 2020)

12. Hall W, et al. Public health implications of legalising the production and sale of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. Lancet 2019; 394:1580–1590.

Contact diana@nzma.org.nz
for the PDF of this article

View Article PDF

The Cannabis Referendum provides an opportunity for New Zealand to take another step towards the wider goal of minimising the harms of drug use in this country. Here we summarise why evidence and public health considerations support a yes vote in the Referendum.

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser recently released an overview of the academic research on the impacts of cannabis legalisation overseas, and what it might mean for New Zealand.1 This summary adds a valuable new source of information for those unsure how to vote in the upcoming Cannabis Referendum.

But what the overview does not do is examine how the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill has been carefully crafted with public health and social justice outcomes in mind. If the Referendum is successful, it will result in public health legislation with world-leading goals and aspirations that could serve as a model for other countries.

Cannabis from a public health perspective in New Zealand: where are we now?

Cannabis is New Zealand’s most commonly used illicit drug, with the latest New Zealand Health Survey figures indicating 15%, or 590,000 adults, used cannabis in the past 12 months.2

The Christchurch longitudinal study found 76.7% of participants had tried cannabis by the time they were 25.3

Use is heaviest in the group aged 15-24,2 and those aged under 25 are also the group most at risk of adverse health outcomes from cannabis use.4 While cannabis use is not harmful for most and can be beneficial for some, outcomes depend on who is using it, what they are using it for, and how often. Negative health impacts, such as psychotic illness, are experienced by a small minority, but can be serious, and disproportionately affect Māori.5

Health harms are experienced predominantly by those who start using young, use heavily and frequently, use high potency products and/or have a history of psychosis in the family.6 These are the population groups public health interventions must focus on if reducing harm is a serious goal: prohibition is not an adequate model to ensure that happens.

Crucially, the Chief Science Advisor’s summary highlighted that prohibition does not achieve the goal of reducing cannabis use by those who are unlucky enough to be caught, noting that 95% of people who were convicted of a cannabis-related offence continued to use at the same or an increased level following arrest.7 This finding ties in with European research that found no clear association between the level of penalty applying to illicit cannabis use, and overall use rates.8

Our cannabis laws are not only ineffective—they are directly harmful to those who fall foul of them. Several thousand New Zealanders each year receive a conviction for cannabis-related offences, with implications for employment, travel, education, future earnings and mental health. More than half of these convictions are for low-level offences such as possession or use of cannabis, and those affected are disproportionately young and/or Māori.9

The Chief Science Advisor’s summary points out that Māori have borne both the brunt of biased enforcement and the negative health effects of cannabis being illegal. For example, Māori are three times more likely to be arrested and convicted of a cannabis-related crime than non-Māori with the same level of use. Māori are almost twice as likely as non-Māori to go to court over a first offence and nearly seven times more likely to be charged. They are also more likely to suffer harm from cannabis use and less likely to be able to access health treatment.5

This fall-out from our drug laws is a high and inequitable price to pay for a policy that is not effective at reducing harmful use.

How does the Bill promote public health, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco regulatory approaches?

The model of cannabis legalisation proposed is not aimed at creating a new market, or encouraging people to use. In fact, one of the goals of the legislation is to reduce cannabis use over time.

Under prohibition we have very limited tools at our disposal to impact public health outcomes. Putting in place a strictly regulated legal market means a range of policy levers can be employed, targeting specific health and social outcomes. Measures to contain use include setting price limits and potency limits, making rules around packaging and age limits, taxing sales, and setting aside a levy to fund health interventions. Such an approach has been very successful at halving the rates of tobacco use in New Zealand over the past two decades.2,10

Meanwhile, yearly cannabis use prevalence, which remains unregulated, nearly doubled from 8% to 15% between 2011 and 2019.2

The proposed Bill has been drafted following the known evidence about what works to reduce use and to reduce harm from recreational drug use, and it remedies the mistakes that have historically been made in the regulation of tobacco and alcohol—such as normalising use by allowing advertisers to saturate airwaves and sports fields. Some of the key points of comparison are set out in Table 1.

Table 1: Comparison of regulatory models for substances in New Zealand.11

The Bill also guarantees product quality by ensuring all products are tested for contaminants, and that ingredients are standardised and labelled—a simple public health intervention that is not possible under prohibition.

Legalising would have an immediate effect on criminal justice outcomes. Māori advocates pushed hard last year to ensure that the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill would not replace one set of criminal penalties with another. That goal has largely been achieved, with most penalties—for example for using in a prohibited area or carrying more than 14g—being civil rather than criminal. Such a penalty would function like a speeding ticket: no one wants to get one and people change their behaviour to avoid one, but getting one usually has limited lifelong impact.

The Bill also encourages help-seeking for cannabis-related health issues. The Chief Science Advisor’s report notes that people who need help managing their cannabis use are not seeking it, and there is not enough help available. The situation is particularly dire for Māori.5

The Bill puts aside a levy from sales to support help-seeking services. A dedicated regulatory body called the Cannabis Regulatory Authority will be required to develop a harm reduction strategy and ensure this is implemented. It will cover prevention, education and treatment, and civil society will have input through the establishment of a Cannabis Advisory Committee. The Committee will act as a watchdog of the regulatory authority, and is required to include iwi and Māori representation in its membership.

It is appropriate to consider the potential for legal access to cannabis to increase harms to New Zealand society. Legalisation in other jurisdictions has been associated with increased use of cannabis by adults, though not by youth.12 This increase has the potential to result in greater harms from cannabis, including higher rates of accidents, poor mental health outcomes, and dependency.

However, the Bill provides a framework to reduce these harms through an evidence-informed policy framework. This situation contrasts sharply with the current unregulated environment. It will be imperative to contain industry and ensure that the intent of the Act remains that of improving public health rather than providing financial benefits.

Conclusions

The Cannabis Referendum is a once in a generation opportunity to place evidence-informed controls around a substance that is widely used and unregulated. A yes vote is not a vote in support of cannabis—it is a vote in support of placing public health controls around a substance that is currently left to the black market to manage.

Legalisation will not eliminate all harm from cannabis use—many of the harms we see currently will continue. Some benefits, such as reducing the size of the black market, will take time to have an effect. However, the Bill provides a coherent approach to containing harms.

There is a risk of unpredicted outcomes in every public health intervention. However, the risks of continuing with the status quo are known, and we do not think they are acceptable. Responsible legal regulation means tackling harmful use, and reducing the criminal, social and health impacts for Māori. A yes vote is a vote for health, not handcuffs.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Sam McBride, Community Alcohol and Drug Service, Te-Upoko-me-te-Whatu-o-Te-Ika Mental Health, Addictions & Intellectual Disability Sector 3DHB, New Zealand; Papaarangi Reid, Head of Department of Māori Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland; Louise Signal, Head of Department, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington; Michael G Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Prof Michael G Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Correspondence Email

michael.baker@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

1. Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Legalising cannabis in Aotearoa New Zealand: What does the evidence say? (2020). Available at: http://www.pmcsa.ac.nz/topics/cannabis/ (Accessed: 31st August 2020)

2. Ministry of Health. Annual Data Explorer 2018/19: New Zealand Health Survey [Data File]. 2019

3. Boden JM, Fergusson DM, John Horwood L. Illicit Drug use and Dependence in a New Zealand Birth Cohort. Aust. New Zeal. J. Psychiatry 2006; 40:156–163.

4. Silins E, et al. Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry 2014; 1:286–293.

5. Theodore R, Ratima M, Potiki, Waita T, Boden J, Poulton R. Cannabis, the cannabis referendum and Māori youth: a review from a lifecourse perspective. Kōtuitui New Zeal. J. Soc. Sci. Online 2020:1–17. doi:10.1080/1177083X.2020.1760897

6. Poulton RG, Brooke M, Moffitt TE, Stanton WR, Silva PA. Prevalence and correlates of cannabis use and dependence in young New Zealanders. N Z Med J 1997; 110:68–70.

7. Fergusson DM, Swain-Campbell NR, Horwood LJ. Arrests and convictions for cannabis related offences in a New Zealand birth cohort. Drug Alcohol Depend 2003; 70:53–63.

8. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Cannabis legislation in Europe: An overview. Cannabis Legislation in Europe (Publications Office of the European Union, 2018). doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16248-0_32

9. Ministry of Justice. Drug Offences 2010 - 2019 [Data File]. (2020).

10. Ministry of Health. Tobacco use 2012/13: New Zealand Health Survey. (2014).

11. New Zealand Drug Foundation. Vote Yes FAQs. (2020). Available at: http://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/policy-and-advocacy/vote-yes/faqs/ (Accessed: 17th September 2020)

12. Hall W, et al. Public health implications of legalising the production and sale of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. Lancet 2019; 394:1580–1590.

Contact diana@nzma.org.nz
for the PDF of this article

View Article PDF

The Cannabis Referendum provides an opportunity for New Zealand to take another step towards the wider goal of minimising the harms of drug use in this country. Here we summarise why evidence and public health considerations support a yes vote in the Referendum.

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser recently released an overview of the academic research on the impacts of cannabis legalisation overseas, and what it might mean for New Zealand.1 This summary adds a valuable new source of information for those unsure how to vote in the upcoming Cannabis Referendum.

But what the overview does not do is examine how the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill has been carefully crafted with public health and social justice outcomes in mind. If the Referendum is successful, it will result in public health legislation with world-leading goals and aspirations that could serve as a model for other countries.

Cannabis from a public health perspective in New Zealand: where are we now?

Cannabis is New Zealand’s most commonly used illicit drug, with the latest New Zealand Health Survey figures indicating 15%, or 590,000 adults, used cannabis in the past 12 months.2

The Christchurch longitudinal study found 76.7% of participants had tried cannabis by the time they were 25.3

Use is heaviest in the group aged 15-24,2 and those aged under 25 are also the group most at risk of adverse health outcomes from cannabis use.4 While cannabis use is not harmful for most and can be beneficial for some, outcomes depend on who is using it, what they are using it for, and how often. Negative health impacts, such as psychotic illness, are experienced by a small minority, but can be serious, and disproportionately affect Māori.5

Health harms are experienced predominantly by those who start using young, use heavily and frequently, use high potency products and/or have a history of psychosis in the family.6 These are the population groups public health interventions must focus on if reducing harm is a serious goal: prohibition is not an adequate model to ensure that happens.

Crucially, the Chief Science Advisor’s summary highlighted that prohibition does not achieve the goal of reducing cannabis use by those who are unlucky enough to be caught, noting that 95% of people who were convicted of a cannabis-related offence continued to use at the same or an increased level following arrest.7 This finding ties in with European research that found no clear association between the level of penalty applying to illicit cannabis use, and overall use rates.8

Our cannabis laws are not only ineffective—they are directly harmful to those who fall foul of them. Several thousand New Zealanders each year receive a conviction for cannabis-related offences, with implications for employment, travel, education, future earnings and mental health. More than half of these convictions are for low-level offences such as possession or use of cannabis, and those affected are disproportionately young and/or Māori.9

The Chief Science Advisor’s summary points out that Māori have borne both the brunt of biased enforcement and the negative health effects of cannabis being illegal. For example, Māori are three times more likely to be arrested and convicted of a cannabis-related crime than non-Māori with the same level of use. Māori are almost twice as likely as non-Māori to go to court over a first offence and nearly seven times more likely to be charged. They are also more likely to suffer harm from cannabis use and less likely to be able to access health treatment.5

This fall-out from our drug laws is a high and inequitable price to pay for a policy that is not effective at reducing harmful use.

How does the Bill promote public health, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco regulatory approaches?

The model of cannabis legalisation proposed is not aimed at creating a new market, or encouraging people to use. In fact, one of the goals of the legislation is to reduce cannabis use over time.

Under prohibition we have very limited tools at our disposal to impact public health outcomes. Putting in place a strictly regulated legal market means a range of policy levers can be employed, targeting specific health and social outcomes. Measures to contain use include setting price limits and potency limits, making rules around packaging and age limits, taxing sales, and setting aside a levy to fund health interventions. Such an approach has been very successful at halving the rates of tobacco use in New Zealand over the past two decades.2,10

Meanwhile, yearly cannabis use prevalence, which remains unregulated, nearly doubled from 8% to 15% between 2011 and 2019.2

The proposed Bill has been drafted following the known evidence about what works to reduce use and to reduce harm from recreational drug use, and it remedies the mistakes that have historically been made in the regulation of tobacco and alcohol—such as normalising use by allowing advertisers to saturate airwaves and sports fields. Some of the key points of comparison are set out in Table 1.

Table 1: Comparison of regulatory models for substances in New Zealand.11

The Bill also guarantees product quality by ensuring all products are tested for contaminants, and that ingredients are standardised and labelled—a simple public health intervention that is not possible under prohibition.

Legalising would have an immediate effect on criminal justice outcomes. Māori advocates pushed hard last year to ensure that the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill would not replace one set of criminal penalties with another. That goal has largely been achieved, with most penalties—for example for using in a prohibited area or carrying more than 14g—being civil rather than criminal. Such a penalty would function like a speeding ticket: no one wants to get one and people change their behaviour to avoid one, but getting one usually has limited lifelong impact.

The Bill also encourages help-seeking for cannabis-related health issues. The Chief Science Advisor’s report notes that people who need help managing their cannabis use are not seeking it, and there is not enough help available. The situation is particularly dire for Māori.5

The Bill puts aside a levy from sales to support help-seeking services. A dedicated regulatory body called the Cannabis Regulatory Authority will be required to develop a harm reduction strategy and ensure this is implemented. It will cover prevention, education and treatment, and civil society will have input through the establishment of a Cannabis Advisory Committee. The Committee will act as a watchdog of the regulatory authority, and is required to include iwi and Māori representation in its membership.

It is appropriate to consider the potential for legal access to cannabis to increase harms to New Zealand society. Legalisation in other jurisdictions has been associated with increased use of cannabis by adults, though not by youth.12 This increase has the potential to result in greater harms from cannabis, including higher rates of accidents, poor mental health outcomes, and dependency.

However, the Bill provides a framework to reduce these harms through an evidence-informed policy framework. This situation contrasts sharply with the current unregulated environment. It will be imperative to contain industry and ensure that the intent of the Act remains that of improving public health rather than providing financial benefits.

Conclusions

The Cannabis Referendum is a once in a generation opportunity to place evidence-informed controls around a substance that is widely used and unregulated. A yes vote is not a vote in support of cannabis—it is a vote in support of placing public health controls around a substance that is currently left to the black market to manage.

Legalisation will not eliminate all harm from cannabis use—many of the harms we see currently will continue. Some benefits, such as reducing the size of the black market, will take time to have an effect. However, the Bill provides a coherent approach to containing harms.

There is a risk of unpredicted outcomes in every public health intervention. However, the risks of continuing with the status quo are known, and we do not think they are acceptable. Responsible legal regulation means tackling harmful use, and reducing the criminal, social and health impacts for Māori. A yes vote is a vote for health, not handcuffs.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Sam McBride, Community Alcohol and Drug Service, Te-Upoko-me-te-Whatu-o-Te-Ika Mental Health, Addictions & Intellectual Disability Sector 3DHB, New Zealand; Papaarangi Reid, Head of Department of Māori Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland; Louise Signal, Head of Department, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington; Michael G Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Prof Michael G Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Correspondence Email

michael.baker@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

1. Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Legalising cannabis in Aotearoa New Zealand: What does the evidence say? (2020). Available at: http://www.pmcsa.ac.nz/topics/cannabis/ (Accessed: 31st August 2020)

2. Ministry of Health. Annual Data Explorer 2018/19: New Zealand Health Survey [Data File]. 2019

3. Boden JM, Fergusson DM, John Horwood L. Illicit Drug use and Dependence in a New Zealand Birth Cohort. Aust. New Zeal. J. Psychiatry 2006; 40:156–163.

4. Silins E, et al. Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry 2014; 1:286–293.

5. Theodore R, Ratima M, Potiki, Waita T, Boden J, Poulton R. Cannabis, the cannabis referendum and Māori youth: a review from a lifecourse perspective. Kōtuitui New Zeal. J. Soc. Sci. Online 2020:1–17. doi:10.1080/1177083X.2020.1760897

6. Poulton RG, Brooke M, Moffitt TE, Stanton WR, Silva PA. Prevalence and correlates of cannabis use and dependence in young New Zealanders. N Z Med J 1997; 110:68–70.

7. Fergusson DM, Swain-Campbell NR, Horwood LJ. Arrests and convictions for cannabis related offences in a New Zealand birth cohort. Drug Alcohol Depend 2003; 70:53–63.

8. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Cannabis legislation in Europe: An overview. Cannabis Legislation in Europe (Publications Office of the European Union, 2018). doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16248-0_32

9. Ministry of Justice. Drug Offences 2010 - 2019 [Data File]. (2020).

10. Ministry of Health. Tobacco use 2012/13: New Zealand Health Survey. (2014).

11. New Zealand Drug Foundation. Vote Yes FAQs. (2020). Available at: http://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/policy-and-advocacy/vote-yes/faqs/ (Accessed: 17th September 2020)

12. Hall W, et al. Public health implications of legalising the production and sale of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. Lancet 2019; 394:1580–1590.

Contact diana@nzma.org.nz
for the PDF of this article

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