New Zealand

A string of recent deaths in New Zealand is being attributed to the rise of so-called synthetic cannabis is made to look like normal cannabis

A man in his 20s died on Tuesday night, bringing the number of fatalities this month linked to the illegal substance to eight.  The drug consists of dried plants sprayed with synthetic drugs – it triggers effects similar to cannabis but is more powerful and dangerous.  Synthetic cannabis has already caused huge concerns in the US and Europe.

In each of the eight deaths this month, the victim was thought to have used the drug before dying or was found with the drug on them.  The actual substance in the drug responsible for the deaths is not yet known.

All eight deaths have occurred in Auckland and authorities say there is a much higher number of non-fatal cases where people had to be taken to hospital.

Earlier this month, the Auckland City District Police issued a warning on Facebook over the drug use and the apparent link to the rising number of victims.

“This is not an issue unique to Auckland,” the statement warned. “Police are also concerned at the impact of synthetic cannabis in other communities in New Zealand.”

Auckland police also took the rare step of releasing CCTV footage of a man violently ill and barely able to stand after smoking synthetic cannabis.

“We have grave concerns as users don’t know what poisonous chemicals they are potentially putting into their bodies when they’re smoking this drug,” Det Insp Lendrum said.

 

What is synthetic cannabis?

§ Actual cannabis contains an active ingredient which interacts with certain receptors in the brain.

§ Synthetic cannabis is dried plant matter sprayed with chemicals that interact with the same receptors.

§ Produced and sold illegally, the chemicals used vary a lot. That means the effect of the drug is a lot less predictable, so a lot more dangerous.

§ Effects can be extreme, including increased heart rates, seizures, psychosis, kidney failure and strokes.

Cannabis-simulating substances – or synthetic cannabinoids – were developed more than 20 years ago in the US for testing on animals as part of a brain research programme.  But in the last decade or so they’ve become widely available to the public.

In the UK, synthetic cannabis was also temporarily legal, being sold under a variety of names most prominently Spice and Black Mamba.  The drugs were banned in 2016 but continue to cause widespread problems in the country.

Synthetic cannabis has also been banned in the US but continues to be widely available as an illegal drug.

Source:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-40724390      26 July 2017

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy could harm not just a woman’s unborn child, but her grandchildren and beyond.

Researchers in the US have found brain abnormalities linked to foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), at least in mice, can be passed down through the generations.

“Traditionally, prenatal ethanol exposure from maternal consumption of alcohol was thought to solely impact directly exposed offspring, the embryo or foetus in the womb,” says Kelly Huffman from the University of California.

“However, we now have evidence that the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure could persist transgenerationally and negatively impact the next-generations of offspring who were never exposed to alcohol.”

In the experiment, Prof Huffman’s team found the children of mice with FASD also had reduced body weight and brain size, and were more likely to show signs of anxiety and depression. The defects were present in further generations.

“By demonstrating the strong transgenerational effects of prenatal ethanol exposure in a mouse model of FASD, we suggest that FASD may be a heritable condition in humans,” says Prof Huffman.

Babies born with FASD often have intellectual and physical disabilities, behavioural problems and distinct facial features. It is irreversible. A study in 2015 found almost third of Kiwi women continue to drink alcohol during their first trimester, and 11 percent right up until birth. · Concerns over number of women drinking while pregnant

The Ministry of Health says there is no known safe level of drinking, and recommends women abstain from alcohol from the time they decide to have a baby, through conception and the entire pregnancy.

The discovery that FASD affects children who were never exposed to alcohol is a clue to future potential therapies and perhaps even prevention, the researchers say.

The research was published in journal Cerebral Cortex.

Source:  http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/health/2017/07/drinking-alcohol-while-pregnant-harms-kids-for-generations-study.html

Summary

The 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS) provides valuable information about cannabis use by adults aged 15 years and over. It builds upon and adds value to the findings of the 2007/08 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey report on cannabis.

This report presents information on cannabis use in New Zealand, including patterns of use, drug-driving, harms from use (productivity and learning, and mental health), legal problems, and cutting down and seeking help. Information on the medicinal use of cannabis is also presented.

Patterns of cannabis use

Eleven percent of adults aged 15 years and over reported using cannabis in the last 12 months (defined here as cannabis users). Cannabis was used by 15% of men and 8.0% of women. Māori adults and adults living in the most deprived areas were more likely to report using cannabis in the last 12 months. Thirty-four percent of cannabis users reported using cannabis at least weekly in the last 12 months. Male cannabis users were more likely to report using cannabis at least weekly in the last 12 months.

Cannabis and driving

Thirty-six percent of cannabis users who drove in the past year reported driving under the influence of cannabis in the last 12 months. Men were more likely to have done so.

Cannabis-related learning and productivity harms

Six percent of cannabis users reported harmful effects on work, studies or employment opportunities, 4.9% reported difficulty learning, and 1.7% reported absence from work or school in the last 12 months due to cannabis use.

Cannabis and mental health harms

Eight percent of cannabis users reported a time in the last 12 months that cannabis use had a harmful effect on their mental health. Younger cannabis users (aged 25–34 years) were most affected, with reported harm to mental health decreasing markedly by age 55+ years.

Cannabis and legal problems

Two percent (2.1%) of cannabis users reported experiencing legal problems because of their use in the last 12 months.

Cutting down and help to reduce cannabis use

Most cannabis users (87%) did not report any concerns from others about their use. Seven percent of cannabis users reported that others had expressed concern about their drug use or had suggested cutting down drug use within the last 12 months. Of cannabis users, 1.2% had received help to reduce their level of drug use in the last 12 months. Few cannabis users who wanted help did not get it (3.6%).

Cannabis use for medicinal purposes

Forty-two percent of cannabis users reported medicinal use (ie, to treat pain or another medical condition) in the last 12 months. Rates were similar for men and women. Older cannabis users (aged 55+ years) reported higher rates of medicinal use.

An  infographic (PDF, 174 KB)  provides a short overview of these findings.

The methodology report for the 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey is also available on this website.

If you have any queries please email hdi@moh.govt.nz

Downloads

Source:  Ministry of Health. 2015. Cannabis Use 2012/13: New Zealand Health Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health. Published online:  28 May 2015

http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/cannabis-use-2012-13-new-zealand-health-survey

SUSAN SCHENK AND DAVID HARPER

REUTERS

Ecstasy deserves to remain an illegal drug, as there is substantial evidence of it causing harm.

A dangerous case is being made in New Zealand for the legalisation of MDMA, the primary active ingredient of the street drug, Ecstasy.

Ecstasy rose in popularity among the rave party scene in the early 1980s. Use has since spread to more mainstream groups. New Zealanders are some of the heaviest users of ecstasy worldwide, with an estimated 13 per cent of Kiwi respondents to the Global Drug Survey having used ecstasy in the past year.  Supporters of the move to legalise claim the drug is safe, and recent comments made by Wellington Hospital emergency department specialist, Dr Paul Quigley, would seem to support this position.  Quigley has reported few emergency admissions related to ecstasy use, and from this he has incorrectly assumed this means that MDMA use poses minimal harm.

Emergency room admissions are a flawed benchmark for determining the safety of a drug, such as MDMA, as the major harm associated with MDMA is the death of brain cells, and associated behaviour changes.   These effects are generally not life-threatening and would therefore not lead users to seek emergency care.

This does not, however, indicate that MDMA is safe.

Rather, considerable published evidence has demonstrated that memory loss and attention issues are common in MDMA users and there is compelling evidence for the loss of the brain chemical, serotonin, which leads to further problems associated with sleep patterns and emotional wellbeing.

These effects can seriously impact the individual’s ability to lead a productive life, and it is common for users to experience negative emotional after-effects of ecstasy. Importantly, there are no quick fixes for the many detrimental effects of ecstasy and these effects may persist for years.

It has also been suggested that MDMA dependence is not a likely consequence of use, providing proponents of legalisation another indication that MDMA use poses minimal harm.   This too is unsupported in the scientific literature.

* John Key unconvinced by emergency doctor’s call to legalise MDMA

* Don’t freak out over changing drug laws

For most drugs of abuse, including cocaine and methamphetamine (P), about 10-15 per cent of users become dependent on the drug. The same is true of ecstasy users.

Studies have suggested that a subset of ecstasy users progress to misuse and consume the drug frequently and in high dosages.  In New Zealand, the Illicit Drug Monitoring System provides a snapshot of heavy drug users over time.

According to this authoritative survey, ecstasy use among heavy drug users is substantial, and 15 per cent use ecstasy weekly.  An online survey in Britain suggests MDMA users were more likely to report dependence symptoms than users of cocaine.

Another assumption is that by regulating the supply of MDMA, both producers and users will engage in safe drug production and use.  While it is true that most users don’t know what else they are actually taking when taking an ecstasy pill – it is frequently mixed with any range of other substances, some harmful, some not – that doesn’t mean that pure MDMA is actually safe.

Perhaps ‘safer’, but not ‘safe’.

New Zealand has toyed with legalisation of psychoactive substances for many years. First there were the BZP-TFMPP “legal highs” that were subsequently banned as they were shown to be dangerous after all.  The same was true of synthetic cannabis products that have also recently been banned because they were shown to pose more than an acceptable risk of harm.

Despite what has recently been suggested in the media, there is substantial evidence of harm and risk arising from the use of MDMA.  We have been studying the effects of MDMA on brain and behaviour for about 10 years, and the negative effects of ecstasy have been well-documented by us and many other researchers.

Knowing what we know about ecstasy use, and the well-documented negative consequences of its use, the potential for misuse and the persistent and prolific adverse consequences of MDMA use, it is clear that unrestricted use of MDMA poses a great risk of harm, and that it would be irresponsible to provide MDMA for legal sale in New Zealand.

Professor Susan Schenk is from Victoria University’s school of psychology, and Professor David Harper is the dean of science.

Source:  stuff.co.nz  29th June 2015

(New Zealand Health Minister Tony Ryall has welcomed Parliament’s support for the Psychoactive Substances Amendment Act, passed today under urgency by New Zealand parliament. The Act, expected to receive Royal assent on Wednesday and become law on Thursday 8 May 2014, removes all remaining psychoactive products on the New Zealand market. It also bans the use of animal testing data in support of product approvals. “When the Psychoactive Substances Act was passed last year, some products were allowed to stay on the market,” says Ryall. “The amendment means all interim retail and wholesale licences will be cancelled and all psychoactive products given interim approval will be removed from sale. It will also become illegal to possess and supply the products. “While animal testing remains a necessary and important component of the process for developing a number of important products, such as medicines, the government does not believe that such testing was justifiable for the recreational drug market. “The intent of the original Psychoactive Substances Act remains with approved low risk products able to come to market in the future when regulations are made,” Ryall said. All psychoactive products will become unapproved from Thursday and it will be an offence to possess, supply or sell them. Those in possession of products are advised to return them to the retailer they purchased them from. (national.org.nz) *A psychoactive drug is a chemical substance that crosses the blood–brain barrier and acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it affects brain function, resulting in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior.

Source:  www.nation.lk        www.national.org.nz   6th May  2014

Filed under: Legal Sector,New Zealand :

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says Cabinet has agreed to lower the legal blood alcohol limit from 80 to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood for drivers aged over 20.

“Legislation to bring about this change will receive its first reading before the House rises for the Christmas break,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Alcohol impairment is a major cause of road accidents in New Zealand, with an average of 61 fatalities, 244 serious injuries, and 761 minor injuries every year caused by at-fault drivers who have been drinking.

“The social cost of these injuries and fatalities is $446 million – a huge sum in a country of our size.”

A two year review of the impact of lowering the legal blood alcohol limit by 30 milligrams suggests 3.4 lives will be saved a year and 64 injury causing crashes avoided – and save $200 million in social costs over 10 years.

“Data collected by Police over the past 22 months shows 53 drivers were involved in fatal and serious injury crashes with blood alcohol readings of between 51 and 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood,” Mr Brownlee says.

It’s proposed the new regime will impose civil infringements on drivers with between 50 and 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Drivers testing positive for this lower limit will receive a $200 fine and gain 50 demerit points.  “This is not a soft option,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Drink driving is a serious matter and I would note that accumulation of 100 demerit points for driving related offences in any two-year period can lead to three months’ suspension of a driver’s licence.”  Testing positive to over 80 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood while in charge of a motor vehicle will remain a criminal offence.

“We know that drivers with a very high blood alcohol concentration, and recidivist drink drivers, are responsible for a much higher proportion of alcohol related road fatalities,” Mr Brownlee says.  “That is why we believe this fine-based approach at the lower end is most appropriate.”  Mr Brownlee says the Government has a strong record on road safety and today’s decision reinforces that.

Source:   www.vixy.co.nz  4th Nov. 1213  

Filed under: Legal Sector,New Zealand :

New Zealand have passed new legislation which will make the production and selling of ‘legal highs’ and synthetic cannabis much more difficult since suppliers will have to prove the substances for sale are low risk.  Offences will result in a large fine or even prison.

 

Mike Sabin, MP for Northland says he is hoping to see ‘backyard chemists’ who manufacture psychoactive substances, commonly sold as legal highs and synthetic cannabis, put out of business following the passing of the Psychoactive Substances Bill this afternoon.

 

“Over the last 20 years, countries all over the world have been dealing with an acceleration in the development of new forms of synthetic so-called ‘legal highs’ with the psychoactive compounds being ones that fall outside of drug classifications. This creates a cat and mouse effect for legislators and authorities trying to respond to the impacts of these drugs, says Mr Sabin.

 

“This Bill is unprecedented in that it responds directly to the exploitation of this anomaly, thus reversing the burden of proof to the manufacturers and suppliers of substances, meaning they will have to demonstrate that what they want to supply is low risk – or it won’t be able to make it to market.

 

“Scores of products with unknown effects and unknown risk profiles have made their way through this gap in the regulatory net and ended up on dairy counters alongside lollies,” says Mr Sabin.

 

“This new legislation is not in any way legitimising drug taking. It is specific to the particular nature of synthetically manufactured drugs, by beating the chemists at their own game through putting the onus on them; something I hope will drive them out of business and turn Kiwis off these products.

 

The new legislation includes provisions for:

·        A regulatory authority within the Health Ministry to

o consider and approve or decline psychoactive substances

o issue a manufacturing code of practice

o issue importation, manufacturing and sale licences

o conduct post-marketing monitoring, audit and recall functions

* Establish an expert advisory committee to provide the authority with technical advice

* Set offences and penalties under the Bill, including up to two years’ imprisonment for some offences, and fines of up to $500,000

·        Restrict sales of approved products to those over 18, remove sales from dairies and other non-specialty shops and restrict advertising to point of sale only.

·        Prescribe retail restrictions (including advertising, labelling, and packaging restrictions), health warnings, signage, display, and other requirements.

 

“We should all remember that the only safe drug use is no drug use. Far from being an example as to how to deal with other drugs, as some opposition Parties are suggesting, this law change is simply the best way to stop chemists from altering the chemical compounds to beat the legislation, says Mr Sabin.

 

“These drug manufacturers have made a lot of money and caused a lot of misery in New Zealand. I hope the new law will put them out of business, because society doesn’t need what they have to offer.”

 

Source:  Media Statement by Mike Sabin National MP for Northland NZ  July 2013

 

A Whangarei man says smoking synthetic cannabis caused seizures that led to his losing his job and left him unable to drive for 12 months. Hugh Van Harlingen, aged in his 50s, is urging others not to experiment with the “dangerous substances.”

He says smoking synthetic cannabis product K2 was the biggest mistake he ever made. Mr Van Harlingen decided to go public after reading in Wednesday’s Northern Advocate that Whangarei lawyer Dave Sayes had written to the Government urging an immediate ban on synthetic cannabis products.

“I saw that article and just had to speak out … I had to let others know what I have been through after smoking K2. K2 ruined my life and I don’t want others to go through it,” he said. Mr Van Harlingen said he had been a cannabis smoker, but gave the habit up before trying K2 about five months ago after friends said he might enjoy it.

But two months later his life was in tatters after he lost his job due to getting seizures in the workplace, fits that also led to his being banned from driving until he had been seizure-free for 12 months, because medical experts could not be sure they would not happen again.

“I wasn’t a heavy user of K2, just a couple of nights a week to help me relax after work, and I thought that because it was legal it must be safe. But boy was I wrong. It’s caused me major problems.” About two months after starting smoking K2 he had had a seizure at work, the morning after having a toke at home.

“It was the first time I ever had anything like that happen to me. I just completely blacked out and can’t remember anything about it, but I was fitting, and my arms and legs were jerking about and I was foaming at the mouth,” he said.

“All I can remember is waking up in the ambulance on the way to hospital wondering what the hell was going on, but I didn’t link it to K2 at that stage.”

He was taken to hospital, but doctors were unable to find out what was wrong. His workplace stuck by him, but said he would not be able to drive any of its vehicles. Then a short time later he had another seizure at work and he had to be let go because of his inability to drive and concerns over workplace safety.

Mr Van Harlingen admits he didn’t read the instructions on the K2 closely, but assumed it would be like cannabis, given that it was marketed as synthetic cannabis. “But it was different from cannabis and much worse. There was something odd about the feeling it gave.”

While the doctors were struggling to find out what was wrong with him, the seizures ceased within days of quitting K2 and now, three months later, he has not had another.

“Now I’m on a sickness benefit and nobody will employ me because I can’t drive for 12 months and because I’ve had seizures at work. It’s messed my life up big time,” Mr Van Harlingen said.

A Psychoactive Substances Bill has been tabled in Parliament by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne and is expected to pass by August 1. The bill will restrict the importation, manufacture, and supply of psychoactive substances and only allow the sale of psychoactive substances that can meet safety and manufacturing requirements.

But Mr Van Harlingen said August was too long to wait: “It needs to happen now. This stuff is just too dangerous.” –

Source: NORTHERN ADVOCATE New Zealand 29th April 2013

 

Filed under: New Zealand :

Maoris have the world’s highest lung-cancer rate, and heavy marijuana use could be a culprit, the New Zealand Herald reported Oct. 10.
About one in five New Zealanders are regular users of marijuana. Researcher Richard Beasley of the Medical Research Institute in Wellington, New Zealand, is working on a study that compares cancer rates between marijuana smokers, tobacco smokers, and nonusers. He recently released a research review concluding that marijuana smoking is more cancerous than tobacco smoking.
Beasley performed the research review for a Wellington coroner who has called for a tougher approach than harm reduction to marijuana use in New Zealand.

Source: New Zealand Herald Oct.l7 2005

Cannabis smoking may cause 5 per cent of lung cancer cases in people up to middle age, according to a New Zealand study which challenges international thinking on the drug.  Around 15 per cent of New Zealand adults under 46 use cannabis, drug-use surveys have found.
 
Researcher Dr Sarah Aldington, of the Medical Research Institute in Wellington, presented the new case-control study to the Thoracic Society conference in Auckland yesterday.
 
Cannabis users may have thought they were safe from lung cancer after a Californian study of more than 1600 people last year found no link between the disease and smoking the drug.  Dr Aldington said the evidence on cannabis and the risk of lung cancer was limited and conflicting. Her study found the risk rose more than five-fold among the third of users smoking the most cannabis.
 
“In conclusion there is a relationship between cannabis smoking and lung cancer in this study,” she said. “Approximately 5 per cent of lung cancer cases in those aged 55 and under may be attributable to cannabis…”   This equates to about 15 new cases a year – in 2002, 306 people aged 18-55 were diagnosed with lung cancer in New Zealand.  The study questioned about 60 people with lung cancer from eight health districts between Waikato and Canterbury and more than 200 “controls” – people randomly selected from electoral rolls in the same areas.
 
They were asked about risk factors, including cannabis and tobacco use.   The researchers calculated that the risk of developing lung cancer increased by about 8 per cent a year for people whose cumulative exposure equated to smoking one joint a day. This was about the same as the increase for someone with a one-pack-a-day tobacco habit.   The younger someone started smoking cannabis, the higher their risk of lung cancer.
 
“Long-term cannabis use increases the risk of lung cancer in young adults, particularly in those who start smoking cannabis at a young age,” the researchers conclude.
 
Dr Aldington said cannabis was the most commonly used recreational drug in the world, used by 161 million people, and its use was increasing in many countries. She said cannabis contained 50 per cent more cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco.  The study has found what the University of California researchers had expected to find but didn’t.   A researcher from that study, Dr Donald Tashkin, said in the Washington Post his group had thought cannabis smokers’ deeper inhalation and tendency to hold smoke in their lungs for longer than tobacco users would contribute to an increased cancer risk.
 
He said earlier work had shown cannabis contained cancer-causing chemicals as potentially harmful as those in tobacco. But cannabis also contained the chemical THC, which might kill ageing cells and keep them from becoming cancerous.
 
Middlemore Hospital clinical director of medicine Associate Professor Jeff Garrett, a leader of the Thoracic Society, said the Aldington study was “a good pilot study. It’s early work, it’s interesting, but there needs to be more work done.”

Source:  New Zealand Herald
Tuesday March 27, 2007

________________________________________
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A study has found that heavy cannabis smoking is a major cause of gum disease.

The investigation, which tracked a group of 1000 people born in Dunedin in 1972-73, found heavy cannabis use was responsible for more than one-third of the new cases of gum disease by age 32.

The study involved researchers from the University of Otago, King’s College in London, Duke University and the University of North Carolina in the United States. Professor Murray Thomson from University of Otago School of Dentistry said toxins in cannabis smoke were detrimental to periodontal health. “The problem is not the smoke itself – it’s what’s in the smoke,” he said. “In the mouth, there is a fine balance between tissue destruction and tissue healing and the various toxins in cannabis smoke disrupt that.”

Professor Thomson said gum disease was one of the most common diseases of adulthood, and caused problems such as the loss of support for the teeth. There was also emerging evidence it could be a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and pre-term birth.

Heavy cannabis users are those who smoke cannabis 41 times or more per year between the ages of 18 and 32.

The study is the first to have investigated whether smoking anything other than tobacco is detrimental for the gums. The evidence has been published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.

Source: New Zealand Herald.6 Feb 2008

On a day when the government is meeting to discuss drivers of crime it is worth looking beneath the veneer of the Police offence statistics for the past 10 years to understand just how endemic the violence caused by methamphetamine and drug abuse has become in New Zealand and the need for strategies to address this according to MethCon Group director Mike Sabin.

“Again through 2008 violent offences continued to increase unabated but when you look at the past 10 years you get a far better feel for the way our communities have been held to ransom by failed drug policy”, said Mr. Sabin
“Violent offences and serious assaults increased by 51 percent and 59 percent respectively. Robbery has increased by 57 percent, while intimidation and threats have increased by 73 percent with offences involving grievous harm increasing by a staggering 105 percent, up from 92 percent last year” said Mr. Sabin

“During the same 10 year period there has also been dramatic increases in offences related to methamphetamine including 169 percent increase in supply offences, 208 percent increase in possession for supply, 400 percent increase in importation, while importation of pseudoephedrine to manufacture the drug has increased by well over 10,000 percent with methamphetamine manufacture increasing by over 9500 percent since 1998”, claimed Mr. Sabin “On the back of that we have also become some of the highest recorded use rates of cannabis in the world with 80 percent of those aged 25 in this country now saying they have used the drug”, said Mr. Sabin

“My point is that there is a clear nexus between increased drug abuse in this country, particularly with regard to methamphetamine, and violent crime. While alcohol is a lead contributor to violence, what are we doing to actually identify and respond to poly drug abuse, which is far more common than any other form of drug abuse?”

“For example, as much as 89 percent of our prison population are drug users and yet too often we hear that alcohol is the driver of violent crime and disorder. Drugged driving is more frequently a contributor to fatal vehicle accidents than alcohol use alone, but what do we do to identify drugged drivers on our roads?” said Mr. Sabin.

“Beyond this, why has New Zealand become the highest recorded users of methamphetamine and cannabis in the world over the past 10 years? The answer is quite simple; since 1998 our national drug policy has focused centred on ‘harm minimisation’. Rather than focusing on prevention of drug use and healing drug abusers to a point of abstinence, our national drug policy has focused on accepting drug use as an inevitability and finding ‘safe ways’ to use, while treatment has been more about methadone maintenance programmes and giving addicted users clean needles”, said Mr. Sabin

Justice Minister Simon Power signalled their clear intentions to look at new approaches to address the drivers of crime and I commend the government for having a forum to begin this process as it goes to the heart of solving the cause of the problems rather than tinkering with the symptoms. The role of drug abuse as a driver cannot be underestimated and I would encourage efforts to arrive at strategies which reflect this”, said Mr. Sabin

Source: www.methcon.co.nz. (NZ’s specialist methamphetamine education providers and policy consultants). 3rd April 2009

Filed under: New Zealand :

Study finds cannabis and tobacco equally bad

 Smoking cannabis is as bad for your lungs as smoking cigarettes.
Smoking both cannabis and tobacco narrowed people’s airways even more than smoking only one of the substances. The study involved examining how much breath about 900 people aged 18 to 26 could expel forcefully from their lungs. People who smoked cannabis and tobacco expelled less air in a second than non-smokers and took longer to expel all the air from their lungs because their airways had narrowed slightly.
Airflows decreased even more when people smoked both cannabis and tobacco. Smokers breathing and airways were effected by the tar in tobacco. Cannabis had similar levels. The study group members were examined three times in eight years. While all were healthy and differences in their airflows subtle, the figures highlighted a trend , professor Taylor said.
The researchers interest was sparked by cannabis use increasing significantly in most developed countries in the past three decades and people increasingly questioning if it was worse than smoking tobacco.
Professor Taylor said the study was complex because group members lung development was at different stages. Lungs grew and became more efficient during childhood and adolescence , then efficiency started naturally declining in the mid 20s.
The study would continue when the people were aged 32-37.

Source: Professor Robin Taylor, Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development
study reported in New Zealand Herald Aug 2002


Cannabis dependence assessed at age 18 and 21 increased from 6.6% for 18 to 9.6% at 21. unemployment or violent behavior more frequent with cannabis use at 21 years.

Source: Poutton RG, Brooke M, Slarnon WR. Silva PA, Reported in
New Zealand Medical Journal 1997;110:68-70

All disposable cigarette lighten should be child-proof, says Alliance MP Grant Gillon, a former firefighter. The fire that killed 3-year-old Kane Julius in Wainuiomata on April 6 may have been caused by the boy or another child playing with a cigarette lighter Media reports had only focussed on the combustible building materials, he said, “On average two people each year died as a result of fires caused by lighters, and most of these were started by children”, he said. “Australia has banned the sale of any disposable cigarette lighters which are not child safe, yet New Zealand has no such laws.” The Australian standard meant that at least two hand movements were needed to ignite a lighter. A further fire in Auckland over Easter that killed two 3 year old twins, was also attributed to non-child-proof cigarette lighters. In response Consumer Affairs Minister Robyn Macdonald has promised to investigate what can be done.

Source: NZ HeraId 9/4/98 pA5

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