Last week in Parliament the Health (Protection) Amendment Bill passed its first reading and was referred to the Health Select Committee. The bill contained a section banning sunbed use for young people under the age of 18. Such sunbed age restrictions have already been adopted in other jurisdictions such as South Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and California.
The Minister of Health, Dr Jonathan Coleman explained to the House that artificial UV tanning is associated with an increased risk of developing skin cancer and that younger people are more vulnerable: “There is strong evidence that people who use sunbeds increase their risk of malignant melanoma and other more common skin cancers. The greater the exposure, the greater the risk of skin cancer.”
The Minister went on to say, “The Government considers that the evidence of health harm gives sufficient justification for intervention, particularly in respect of controls to protect young people from exposure to sunbeds.”
What was clear from the debate was that Members of Parliament were unanimous in their desire to protect young people from what they considered to be a serious health risk. The Green Party in particular has been very outspoken on this issue for some years, calling not only for tighter regulations, but for an all out ban.
The Greens are also opposed to cigarette smoking because of the health risk, promoting the goal of a “Smoke Free Aotearoa” by 2025.
So while on one hand, the Greens want to ban such things as sunbeds and tobacco products because of the health risk, on the other hand they want to liberalise cannabis laws – even though the risk of cancer from smoking cannabis is far greater than from smoking cigarettes!
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is the Director of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, Professor Richard Beasley, a physician at the Capital & Coast District Health Board, and a Professor at the Universities of Otago, Canterbury, and Southampton in the UK. I asked Professor Beasley, an expert in respiratory medicine, to outline for readers the dangers of smoking cannabis, especially to young people.
In his paper Cannabis and the Lung, he presents key observations from New Zealand studies of the respiratory effects of cannabis use. These include:
- Significant respiratory symptoms and impaired lung function occur in cannabis-dependent individuals by the age of 21 years, even though the cannabis smoking history is of a relatively short duration.
- One cannabis joint is equivalent to between 2.5 and 5 tobacco cigarettes for adverse effects on lung function.
- Long term cannabis smoking increases the risk of lung cancer in young adults. The magnitude of the risk can be viewed in different ways:
– for each joint-year of cannabis smoking the risk of lung cancer increases by 8% (where one joint-year is equivalent to smoking one joint per day for one year, or one joint per week for 7 years, or the equivalent).
– the population attributable risk of lung cancer with cannabis smoking in young adults is about 5%, i.e. cannabis smoking causes one in every 20 cases of lung cancer in young adults.
- One cannabis joint is similar to 20 tobacco cigarettes in terms of lung cancer risk.
As Professor Beasley explains, smoking cannabis is far more harmful to human health than smoking tobacco cigarettes. In terms of cancer risk, smoking one cannabis joint is the equivalent of smoking 20 cigarettes, and in terms of the risk of lung disease, smoking one cannabis joint is the equivalent of smoking up to 5 cigarettes.
On their own, these are damning statistics, but when combined with other risks to health and safety it is easy to see why so many societies around the world have attempted to discourage all access to this drug.
Research conducted over a 20 year period by Professor Wayne Hall, a leading expert in addiction at King’s College in London and an adviser to the World Health Organisation, also links cannabis use to a wide range of harmful side-effects, from mental illness to lower academic attainment to impaired driving ability. These include:
- One in six teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis become dependent on it, as are one in ten regular adult users
- Cannabis can be as addictive as heroin or alcohol and can lead to hard drug use
- People who smoke cannabis daily as teenagers are more likely to use other illicit drugs
- Cannabis doubles the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia
- Driving after smoking cannabis doubles the risk of a car crash, with the risk heightened yet further if they have had an alcoholic drink
Cannabis is clearly a very dangerous drug, especially for young people. It causes cancer, lung disease, psychosis, and can lead to the onset of schizophrenia. It is highly addictive and can become a gateway to hard drugs. In addition it causes impairment that can result in accidents, hospitalisation, or death.
The euphoria and other affects sought by cannabis users is primarily produced by delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is highest in the flowering tops of the female cannabis plant. During the past 30 years the THC content of cannabis has been increased through selective plant breeding. In the US for example it has increased from less than 2 percent to an average of 8.5 percent by 2008. This means that the impairment caused by smoking cannabis is now far greater than it used to be. In addition, THC, which is stored in the fatty tissue in the body, can have a long term affect, since it can remain in the system for up to a month.
While supporters of more liberal cannabis laws often say that smoking the drug is a victimless crime, the facts show the opposite.
A report from the New Zealand Transport Agency explains that two thirds of cannabis users admit driving under the influence, with cannabis impairment nearly doubling the driver crash risk even when alcohol is not a factor.
The statistics show that almost half of all drivers killed on New Zealand roads had alcohol, other drugs, or both in their systems when they crashed. One in five of these drivers had used cannabis only, over a quarter had used a combination of alcohol and cannabis, and another quarter had some other combination of drugs in their systems, possibly also including cannabis.
Three-quarters of the cannabis drivers who died caused the crash that killed them – and when alcohol and cannabis were mixed together nine out of ten dead drivers were responsible for the crash that killed them.
Of course it isn’t just road accidents that can be attributed to cannabis use. One only has to recall the dreadful 2012 Carterton tragedy, where 11 people lost their lives after their hot air balloon hit power lines, caught fire, and crashed to the ground to realise the devastating impact of cannabis use. In the final report of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission it was determined that the accident occurred as a result of pilot error – and cannabis impairment. The pilot had THC in his system and had been seen smoking cannabis shortly before the flight.
The potential danger of drug use in the workplace has been recognised through the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. This legislation places a duty on employers to provide a safe workplace free from hazards – including worker impairment due to drugs. As a result, employees working in safety sensitive areas are likely to be subjected to drug-testing.
In fact, because the potentially dire consequence of cannabis and other drug impairment in the workplace is now widely understood, a whole new drug testing industry has become established.
Air New Zealand set the legal precedent in 2004, successfully defending its drug testing policy against a six-union High Court challenge. The forestry industry followed in 2008, requiring a drug and alcohol-free workplace backed by drug-testing. Drug testing now covers 40 to 50 per cent of the workforce – including many in the training sector.
The fact that so many workplaces now require their employees to be drug free has also resulted in drug testing for the unemployed. Work-tested beneficiaries who are receiving welfare may be required to pass a drug test – if one is required by a potential employer – or risk losing their benefit.
Previously, the Labour Government allowed unemployed beneficiaries to refuse to apply for drug-tested jobs – if they knew they wouldn’t pass the test – without any consequences at all. But National’s welfare reforms changed the system to ensure that recreational drug use is no longer an acceptable excuse for avoiding work. With thousands of New Zealanders working in jobs that require them to be drug-free, and with around 40 percent of the jobs listed with Work and Income requiring drug tests, it is reasonable to expect work tested beneficiaries to be drug free as well.
Given the significant health and safety risks associated with cannabis use, why don’t our health officials and community leaders speak out more strongly about the dangers of this drug? Is their silence the reason that New Zealand has one of the highest reported rates of cannabis use in the world, with about three-quarters of the population having tried cannabis by the age of 25?
Why don’t the public service advertising campaigns that highlight the risk of lung cancer from smoking cigarettes warn young people of the dangers outlined by Professor Beasley, that smoking a single cannabis joint is equivalent to smoking 20 tobacco cigarettes in terms of lung cancer risk?
Why don’t political parties advocate for a more proactive approach in communicating the dangers of this drug to the New Zealand public – and especially to young people?
And what about the Greens? In the sunbed debate, Health spokesman Kevin Hague made the point that users were not given sufficient information about the risks: “the information that is available to them is insufficient for them to form a reasonable view and make an informed decision about the level of risk that they are incurring”. Isn’t it the same for the users of cannabis?
Judging by their track record of wanting to ban almost anything that appears to be causing harm, shouldn’t the Greens be leading the push for more public information and tighter laws – or are they so selfish in their political ambition that they are turning a blind eye to the perils of cannabis use lest they lose the support of the cannabis-using voting block?
THIS WEEK’S POLL ASKS:
Would you like to see the dangers of smoking cannabis promoted more widely?
*Poll comments are posted below.
*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.
THIS WEEK’S POLL COMMENTS
|Who needs it.||Peter|
|There is this perception that it is ok to smoke cannabis.||Desmond|
|Education is a must, so the benefits and dangers should be highlighted. There are some serious flaws in your reporting of this research. The findings in the study cited are not even close to the conclusions in the Dangers of Cannabis article.||Russell|
|But cannabis oil be available to breast and prostrate cancer sufferers and used in hospitals for pain relief for those allergic to morphine which my daughter was. Now dead of breast cancer.||Rodney|
|Yes and no as there are many dangers and there are few dangers depending on who you listen to. Professor Beasley is one who advocates that cannabis dangerous which is true if you overindulge, but name one recreational drug that isn’t if you have too much. Cannabis is the less dangerous than alcohol you only have to look at emergency room data to figure that out. There are many scientific studies that contradict Professor Beasley’s statement here, one only has to do some research. Also the health benefits from cannabis are now just being revealed.||Vaughan|
|TREAT IT THE SAME AS CIGARETTE SMOKING.||WAYNE|
|People messing with their health, then leaving it to the taxpayer to make them better. Go figure. Yes, definitely promote the dangers!||Hilary|
|Although I have never smoked cannabis, as a person who smoked cigarettes for about forty-five years and then quit, I would like to stress the improvement in my health a general fitness since quitting.||Terry|
|A no brainer really why is it called “DOPE” anyway.||Adrienne|
|Without a doubt, too much ignorance around it’s effects.||Steve|
|Promoters of “the safety” of cannabis can not be left to do so unchallenged.||David|
|What dangers? Ive been smoking, ingesting and vaporizing cannabis medicinally for a long time now. I am perfectly healthy.||Chris|
|The young teenagers need to be givern more information on the dangers of smoking cannabis as they are preparing for the rest of their lives.ie employment and relationships etc||John|
|For so long it has been promulgated that cannabis was healthier than tobacco. Glad to read that it is not.||Peter|
|Contrary to general belief cannabis has a bigger effect than is at present portrayed in the media. I’ve seen its effects where it turned a car load of youths incapable of anything for at least three days. Their car was ‘bellied’ out and stuck across a major rail track and when I opened the drivers door the driver said I was not able to do that because ‘we are doing 160 k’s down the motorway’. When spoken to 2 days later they thought they were at a party in Bader Drive, Mangere. They were in fact in a the Bay Of Plenty Police cell, place there for their own safety. It took them a third day for the effects to subside enough before they had recovered sufficiently for their own safety and that of the general public.||Ross|
|This sounds like it come straight from the month of a Pharmaceutical company’s PR exec.||Brent|
|These dangers should be more widely known.||Rob|
|With such overwhelming evidence now available it just makes social sense and economic savings to the health system.||Alan|
|Cannabis can be ingested by methods other than smoking. A cup of the herb tea is an excellent analgesic and any health damage caused by cannabis use pales into absolute insignificance when matched against the highly addictive and toxic drugs alcohol or nicotine, -both apparently acceptable to Dr.Newman. Talk about hysterical selective information… Cannabis should be de-criminalised and anyone wishing to grow their own should have the unimpeded right to do so. Too often policing it, seems to be an excuse for an enormous waste of police time at tax payers expense.||Piet|
|It is incredible that the general public are unable to connect Cannabis Smoking to Cigarette Smoking. Smoking Cannabis will damage the Lungs more than ordinary Cigarette Smoking as Cannabis is smoked Raw. Why is’nt the same government advertising effort used to Connect with any form of Smoking. Agree with the supporting articles. The health system will applaud the articles.||Frederick|
|Long term cannabis use can, to put it mildly, cause some people to behave in a very odd manner.||Ann|
|I work in an industry where cannabis use is wide spread and get to see how this impairs the work ethic and, or ability of them to do there job properly. The effect is very noticeable.||Cyril|
|Not before time.||Barry|
|I think that cannabis can lead to taking other even more harmful drugs and it must be banned.||Peter|
|Enforce the law.||Jeff|
|This is the first time I’ve read anything about the dangers of smoking cannabis and I’m appalled. So, yes, it definitely needs to be promoted widely.||Johanna|
|A very good vehicle would be Hospital tv’s in outpatient areas.||Bill|
|Fully support publicising the dangers of cannabis. I also fully support legalising and controlling it and all other drugs. The money saved in justice and gained in taxes could be used to treat the addicts and encourage quitting. All our current laws do is encourage criminals.||Ray|
|Not only dangers promoted, but also drug laws strictly enforced.||Grant|
|It is unnatural.If we were meant to smoke anything we would have been born with a pipe in our mouths. Full stop!||Theodorus|
|What about some discussion on “medicinal cannabis”?||Janie|
|Along with the dangers of voting green!||john|
|Definately yes. Perhaps the Greens consider dumbing the brains of our youth, via drugs etc will make indoctrination by propaganda, regarding climate change, & other socialist issues, far easier.||Allan|
|Its time Govt took a much tougher line on cannabis use and introduced greater penalties for its use and supply – it is a very nasty / dangerous drug.||Dave|
|It is a dangerous drug. Are there any good attributes?||David|
|Murray Deaker tried to promote the dangers of Cannabis but got nowhere. I wonder why!.||Jim|
|I have to admit that I had previously had a more liberal approach to Cannabis, but this article has somewhat changed my views, especially regarding the carcinogenic effects associated with Cannabis.||Geoff|
|The Greens have a significant proportion of “fruitcakes” in their membership so you would expect distorted thinking between smoking two different products. You can’t really ban anything, it just operates in secret. You have to convince people to stop and I support a stronger and vigorous awareness campaign.||Mike|
|The sooner the better.||Ralph|
|If the transport dept. made as much effort to these facts as they do on their witchhunt of the elderly, they might acheive better road results!||Barry|
|Information on harm caused through drug use should be taught in schools from a young age, if that is not already the case.||Peter|
|Been a smoker for 30yrs & i suffer from absolutely no diseases, even my Doc says that what he reads from medical people are just scaremongering..alcohol is by Far more Dangerous on Health & Lives…by the way i am 55yrs old….GO FIGURE..||James|
|Those who grow and sell cannabis when caught have their assets impounded to the crown and jailed for life this applies to all drug produces and sellers.||Ken|
|Not that I am in favor of smoking of any kind. But the amount of health damage that will occur as a result of demonizing natural health products through new legislation is infinitely more damaging to the public than a few people smoking joints. Again this a case of misplaced concern by a Fascist nanny state.||Emanuel|
|Thank you for bringing the Cannabis statistics to our attention and hopefully to the rest of New Zealand !||Lynn|
|The young people need to know before they get pressured into starting.||Frank|
|Absolutely & Totally||Athol|
|I once saw a TV show by a young doctor how he used a metal saw to cut off limbs of people who cannot give up smoking. How about one showing the effects of cannibis to replace one of those damned cooking shows, or perhaps a debate from the pros and antis?||Kevan|
|The govt has legalised herbal highs which have more danger to health………pot black?????||John|
|Alcohol and tobacco are bad enough without having other drugs available for “everyday” consumption.||Ken|
|Beasley might be a well inform individual and knowledgeable about the effects of cannabis. There are an unbelievable number of carcinogenic agents being discovered every day, cannabis appears to be another. Like toast or burnt bread. Where do we stop? Cannabis has been used by humans for 100 of years, Has it shown to be linked to cancer? Or is/has the revelation suddenly been discovered? I agree with Beasley, lung disease, psychosis, and possibly schizophrenia could be related to cannabis or certainly made worse by the use of cannabis.The use of cannabis by young people might be more harmful to them than some wrinkly old geriatric just requiring some pain relief or whatever.You are not going to frighten kids by the threat of cancer….or anything else…. and the Law will just drive the use underground where they will have access to far worse drugs. Perhaps we should watch carefully what’s happening in Colorado USA? Why do we need these mind-altering drugs? And how can we educate our kids to avoid them like the plague, when saying “no” or trying to scare them just make them [or humans/kids generally] do it anyway ?||Ced|
|Those smoking this stuff are causing death and grief to far too many innocent people.||Graeme|
|No because it’s a lot of bull! we can just make cookies or tea. adictive my arse,, I smoked every day for 6 weeks then I got sick of it.||Gerhard|
|Why would you want to suck anything into your lungs thats not good clean air.||Peter|
|If anyone has had to deal with the psychosis of cannabis then they know it is as dangerous as Russian roulette.||margaret|
|But it is not likely to get across to the no brains people smoking it.||Christopher|
|Why spend millions on a wasted amount of humanity,if any person found with drugs in there system causes and ends up in hospital dont cover them with acc but charge them the whole costs of health care and not let them claim disabaility allowance because if they can afford to buy drugs they can pay for there own health care.||Richard|
|Of course it should be taught in s schools also.||Marian|
|Not many of the Greens arguments actually stack up when a deeper look is taken.||Mike|
|There are many stupid people around.||David|
|Cannabis dangers are not widely known.||Lawrrie|
|Another thing for stupid humans to use and get addicted to. When this happens we are all expected to pitch in and help rehabilitate them. Let those that want to help them pay for the rehabilitation them selves. Not the Government. The stupid greens who want to ban smoking and sunbeds are happy to support legalising the stuff.||Colin|
|Most users think they are cool, it isn’t, and they decry social drinkers while they drink as well-losers.||Bob|
|If one person stops smoking the ‘stuff’ through promoting the dangers it would be great….||Raewyn|
|To be perfectly honest I don’t really give a flying toss! What people drink, smoke eat is their bloody buisness and I am happy to keep out of it! Life is vexing enough without feeling obligated to wring my hands over people smoking pot. The only thing I care about is how working or operating a car under the influence can effect them and therefore place others at risk. Lets keep it simple with out any dramatics folks. Let our fellow man sort his own life out in his/her own time. I am over all the hounding dramatics of the anti-smoking brigade and now the anti-cannabis; next thing there will be the anti-sugar brigade; anti-softdrink brigade . . . (sigh) when will it all stop? By all means educate on the dangers of smoking cannabis and legislate against being under the influence at work and operating a vehicle or machinery, but ultimately leave the hammer for the man. I am more concerned about why so many people i our society are turning to this kind of stuff – especially teenagers. We have a real problem if our teenagers are finding life that bad and miserable they are turning to drugs as a way of getting their kicks . . . or is it a way to escape from reality?||Trina|
|What about legal highs? Such things are for losers.||K|
|Facts should be stressed as the are in anti smoking campaigns.||Elaine|
|Most definitely. I’m sure many do not realise the serious effects that cannabis smoking can have on their health. I have long known that smoking before brains are properly wired has caused serious mental health issues but it is horrendous to learn of the other bad side effects also. These should be publicised widely so as to deter people from taking this up, especially at an early age. However, the advertised side effects of smoking tobacco hasn’t deterred many, so will it be the same with cannabis?||Helen|
|Without much more publicity about the danger of smoking cannabis, we are not going to persuade the bulk of our population to give up this form of drug taking. They just will not believe that cannabis is dangerous. We must have a co-ordinated approach by all authorities to publicise the dangers. However with a useless Government at the helm I can not see this happening. So please will you all join me in writing to your local politician to DEMAND that they act on this major problem.||Ernest|
|The medical and anecdotal evidence is there to support the link with tobacco, only much worse so the answer is to link the warnings together to discourage all smoking. Tobacco use is declining so ‘weed’ can be treated the same way.|
|Cannabis smoking,,like cigarette smoking is a slow death.||Edward|
|Wake up before its too late.||Don|
|Cannabis is addictive.. It disrupts lives and can lead to use of harder drugs. I have seen its use resulting in psychosis and irresponsible behaviour. The government should come down hard on its use.||Jill|
|The imbibing of any addictive drug is stupid. Legalise all drugs to cut off the huge financial gains and corruption brought about by the ‘money tree’. Offer help to addicts or else a cheap supply of their drug of choice and leave them until they change their minds or die.||Noel|
|Too many young people hold a firm view that cannabis is safe to use .||Colin|
|Some forms of cannabis have health value – esp. cannabis oil.||Isabel|
|YES, yes, yes.||Roy|
|Frankly we have been pussy-footing round this issue.||Frank|
|I am not convinced of the lung cancer statements.||David|
|It is imperative that we promote personal responsibility instead of nanny state legislation. People choke on chicken bones, yet we don’t ban chickens; people injure themselves running, yet we don’t ban running; people kill and injure themselves driving, but we don’t ban driving; people harm themselves smoking cannabis so we ban cannabis. The others are all necessary and beneficial, just as cannabis can be beneficial in the treatment of some diseases. We must allow people to make their own choices and decisions and we must provide unbiased information to allow this to happen. then maybe we’ll be able to walk in cities without the risk of tripping over ‘danger – wet surface’ signs placed intrusively on dry surfaces. education for decision making based on risk assessment is urgently needed.||Alan|
|I would like to see the dangers of all types of smoking promoted more widely! Why would any thinking person want to introduce a substance into their lungs, that their lungs were clearly not designed for? If it’s a good idea, then why not put water in your lungs too? At least death comes more swiftly and there is little chance of you taking someone out with you! Aren’t we supposed to be at the top of the thinking chain in the animal world?||Charles|
|I would like to see the busybodies who are trying to stamp out tobacco smoking educated on the respiratory effects of cannabis smoking and then they might put more effort into stamping out cannabis smoking.||Terry|
|People who are noncopers of life usually turn to alcohol or drugs like cannabis to help them cope and become addicted. It takes more and more of whatever they are using to get the same effect. Kids on Autism Syndrome are especially at risk.||Pat|
|Those doped up greens want to take heed of the true facts about the harmful effects of cannabis use.||Kevin|
|This information is not widely distributed and should be given to schools to use in their health programmes and be on TV.||Mary|
|I would like to see the pros and cons discussed widely.||Devadunna|
|Yep, along with more on the dangers of alcohol…||Andy|
|Hell yes! Liberalising / legalising cannabis use will SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE the social and health costs of this drug. Because the plant itself grows (literally) like a weed, anyone will be able to “cultivate” it in their back yard and there will be no way to tax its consumption to pay for the long-term health and social costs the use will create.||Mark|
|I have never smoked cannabis but know people who have and who insist it is less harmful than cigarettes (I don’t smoke either) so if they knew how harmful it was hopefully it would help them to quit.||Margaret|
|Cannabis users are becoming the ‘good guys’ in the recreational drug use world because of the extreme effects of ‘P’ being the comparison. This is nonsense. Our young people are being badly screwed up by cannabis use.||Roy|
|The provision of credible and substantiated factual data to the public may well encourage the formation of more enlightened decisions in this field.||Barry|
|That piece was a bunch of propagandist drivel Muriel and reminiscent of the inaccurate hysterical information used by the USA in having cannabis sidelined last century to favour the profits of American corporations. I don`t see the argument that one can cook cannabis and eat it. Any smoking is dangerous so we should be promoting the eating of it if you are concerned about the health risks which are minimal if taken this way.||Peter|
|But only in conjunction with the public service messages on smoking tobacco. The majority of cannabis users I have met also been heavy smokers of tobacco. I therefore do not believe that it is possible to reliably quantify the lung damage caused by one or the other.||Kerry|
|Smoking cannabis is just a part of the problem and it is a self harm activity. It is all the anti social and illegal activities that are associated with its cultivation and use that has more impact on society. If users want to kill themselves by smoking it, let them go ahead, the sooner society is rid of them the better.||Urban|
|Stop the nonsense of the uniformed the ultimate the persons that make a living out of it. Maori have got on board with smoking get on board with cannabis wake up.||Lance|
|Cannabis drug taking by smoking or any other means along with most self administered (non medically prescribed drug) use is a self abuse as well as a community abuse, Not an Individual Right. The abuse extends to the risk imposed on the Community by; safety impairment, antisocial behaviors, enforcement costs, health management costs and health consequences. Those risks that collectively place an adverse burden on the Community and the Taxpayer are totally unacceptable and certainly NO individual right. To advertise is generally ineffective against those addicted to the drug, albeit it does create a climate of peer pressure to enable society to better protect our community. The effective way to reduce cannabis and all tobacco use is to prohibit its use completely by state paid beneficiaries. To require 2 monthly non invasive exposure tests for all benefit recipients (excepting age/retirement benefits) and to give one warning with a suspension of 20% of the benefit the first time with a reinstatement retest after one month and subsequently with any further test failures full non refundable suspension of benefits pending a monthly retest. Only when the State takes a firm hand to remove payment entitlement will any reaction be undertaken by the addicted user. The Government has an obligation to taxpayers to do this to avoid wasteful abuse of taxpayer funds. The social long term benefit to the community is a worthy consequence of such a policy. Hit the abusers where it has meaning, in their bludge pockets. The policy might be extended to cover youths by applying the 20% benefit reduction to responsible parents as well. No doubt in that climate, Educational providers, the Insurance Industry and Employers will adapt their own measures of penalties based on abuse occurrence, which will further reduce the problem. Licensed houses that allow the practice ie night clubs, bars etc should have their liquor license and operating license suspended and revoked. Police should have the power to remove for 12 hours and non invasive test anyone suspected of driving under such influence and anyone convicted of such an offense should require mandatory 20day lockup followed by 12 months of monthly testing to retain their driving license. Those that put community at risk need to be corrected, short, sharp and meaningful. Only by creating in the Communities mind the cost and risks of such addiction abuse will the community damaging practices become changed. Fear of consequences is the best driver as proven, the abusers conscience is insufficient. Honest Taxpayers need not tolerate a system where tolerance of such abuse adds significantly to the taxpayer cost over many related issues over a lengthy time scale. On the user pays principle, let the abuser pay and forfeit.||Richard|
|Let’s hear from the Greens.||Ian|
|Absolutely! Totally sick of the persistent calls for legalisation, which come from all sorts of sectors. But especially the Greens and some of ACT supporters. What this article totally overlooks as well, is the exceptionally high suicide rate found in cannibus users as well. A report in NZ found 65 % of suicides in NZ had cannabis in their system at time of death! This is just horrific.||Hugh|
|This does not include the benefits of cannabis oil for medical use.||Huria|
|Promotion and regulation is insufficient. The weed, like all recreational drugs, should be banned outright, as the average individual does not have the mental strength to resist the temptation to be one of the flock of euphoric escapees from reality.||Bob|
|I support every thing quoted in the Dangers of Cannabis report. It is sad to see the young destroying the most precious thing they they poses. “LIFE theirs and others while driving a car.||Elvin|
|What a load of bad science. Rubbish. We really need a rational drug policy. http://www.vice.com/read/drug-by-drug-guide-rational-drug-policy-david-nutt-522||Ian|
|The Govt should reject claims that deaths occur from woodburners, and allow their continued use providing the emissions have been filtered.||Mary|
|Most young people are completely unaware of the risk of cancer from smoking cannabis. This should be promoted much more widely by everyone involved with young people.||John|
|It is ridiculous that NZ has such a high rate of cannabis use. Why on earth isn’t more done to discourage it by public health, education, and medical professionals, as well as the Police.||Graeme|
|Yes more should be done to highlight the risk of cannabis use, especially to young people.||Lisa|
|The drug industry is very powerful in NZ. It would take a huge effort to break the demand that they have created. But the risk of cancer is a pretty big incentive to stop using the drug.||Greg|
|All school kids should be taught about the cancer risk.||Peter|
|The ads on TV about driving under the influence of cannabis were weak. They should use some of those more shocking statistics to stop people driving while stoned.||Jason|
|I had no idea smoking pot caused cancer. I had heard it didn’t. Prof Beasley’s article is a revelation.||Barbara|