In 5 months we will have a national, binding referendum to vote whether recreational marijuana should be legalised.
How many of us know enough facts to make a considered decision that will have far-reaching consequences? Or will it be like another ‘Brexit’?
I would like to see a think tank of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, educationalists, mental health workers, and police bringing their knowledge, experience, and ideas to the general public before the referendum.
With the proposed new law, people 20 years and over can buy up to 14 gms of dry leaves a day, which is enough to make up to 40 joints. You cannot light up a joint on the street, in a bar or in your car. You can grow a maximum of two plants at your house or rental, or up to four if there is more than one 20-year-old living at the property. You can make marijuana edibles at home.
However, our police are already under pressure. It is illegal to use a cell phone in cars, but it is not policed well. What chance is there of stopping smoking marijuana in streets, parks and cars? Or while driving? Is there even a drug test available for police to use for drivers?
If the point of the law change is to prevent black marketing of drugs, California has failed to stamp out black marketing with legalised recreational marijuana. Gangs are more interested in the lucrative marketing of Class A drugs, although legalising recreational marijuana may well encourage a step up to using more powerful drugs.
We are being asked to trust our government, but ‘NZ has had a poor record in caving into big alcohol, tobacco and gambling interests’. (NZ Herald)
Mental health services are severely stretched now. Dealing with mental illness and drug use disorders will need more money, time and resources.
Children’s brains are not fully developed until approximately 25, yet many will become passive smokers. And edible marijuana lollies and cakes will mean children and pets become both unintended and intended victims.
Perhaps a bigger and more insidious issue is the option of being stoned is an easier option than developing discipline for work ethic and helping others in our families and community. Being stoned is impaired cognition.
We can learn from other countries experiences after they legalised recreational cannabis. The first US State to legalise found more people being admitted to hospital for cannabis related problems and more reports of mental health cases linked to marijuana.
The US racial divides, including disproportionate arrests of American-Africans for drug possession, have persisted after legalisation. In California and Canada legalisation failed to stamp out the black market.
Families need to be supported to have a wholesome and healthy family life, not to make it more difficult for them. Please think carefully before you vote.