The move to cannabis legalisation may not be as wise as many of us think
In the last year, legalisation of cannabis in New Zealand garnered overwhelming support from political parties as well as nationals. The New Zealand Government has announced their intention to hold a cannabis referendum at the 2020 general election.
An independent poll recently conducted by online national market research company Horizon Research, reveals the Government's 2020 referendum on recreational cannabis would easily pass. This survey of nearly 1,000 New Zealanders shows that 60 per cent of adults would vote to support the legalisation of recreational cannabis.
However, at the same time, there are many critics of cannabis legalisation who often discuss the harm of cannabis and the risks of legalisation.
Here are a few arguments against marijuana legalisation that may make you think twice before you decide to vote in favour of legalisation.
1. Modern marijuana can be dangerous.
People who lived through the ‘hippie generation’ often say that cannabis is not harmful. That may have been true in the 60s and 70s, but these days the situation has changed. The marijuana purchased from store shelves and sold on the street today is much different to that used by the hippie generation.
A study in Colorado suggests that modern cannabis is much more potent than the cannabis that was available 30 years ago. In fact, it mostly lacks the components touted as beneficial by medical marijuana proponents and is heavily laced with fungi, pesticides and unsafe metals.
Growers don’t use natural cultivation methods and have cross-bred plants over the years to produce more powerful strains, sold under attractive brand names. That can create a faster-growing crop and a stronger high, but means the plant is far less safe for users.
2. New Zealand has the richest data on the adverse consequences of cannabis.
While there have been countless studies that promote the benefits of cannabis, the drug has also been shown in many prominent university-run studies to be dangerous. For instance, a study conducted by Northwestern University showed an oddly-shaped hippocampus, the region in the brain most responsible for memory, in adolescents who had uses cannabis heavily at ages 16 or 17 for three consecutive years.
A Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS) recently published 30 scientific papers on cannabis.
This research shows that cannabis use is associated with increased risks of adverse outcomes, including welfare dependency, increased psychotic symptoms, educational delay, and increased risk of automobile accidents, respiratory impairment and more. These effects are most evident in young users, aged below 18 years. There is genuine concern that young users are at greater risk of suffering the adverse effects of cannabis.
3. Marijuana is addictive.
Current evidence suggests that cannabis can be both physiologically and psychologically addictive, particularly if used regularly. Nearly 10 per cent of regular marijuana users have a dependence on the drug.
Those who quit may struggle withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, mood swings, cravings, restlessness, aggressiveness, loss of appetite, anxiety, and more.
4. Legal cannabis may not be an economic salvation.
It’s often claimed that legalising cannabis would dismantle the black market and allow the government to establish a regulated market, resulting in tax revenue from the marijuana industry.
However, if we consider the two legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco, it’s noteworthy that the country has made insufficient tax revenues to cover the cost of the use of these drugs. An analysis from the Washington Post shows the price of marijuana has fallen by 70 per cent since its legalisation in Colorado. It has put many cannabis firms at risk of bankruptcy and crippled the state’s ability to generate sufficient tax revenue.
Price of cannabis has dropped significantly in Colorado in 4 years
In the U.S. states - Colorado and Oregon - there is an increase in the number of cannabis users between 2012 and 2014. Though the figure increased slightly by 2016, it remained higher than the national average.
Cannabis use has increased, particularly among teens, after legalisation
It is a clear sign that cannabis legalisation leads to increased use of the drug.
Considering the vote
Give these concerns; it makes sense to not vote in favour of legalisation. As we move towards the 2020 cannabis legalisation referendum, New Zealanders have to stay informed and sceptical. Cannabis is often described as a harmless, natural drug, but major issues such as addiction and health concerns show a darker side to the substance. There are legitimate concerns surrounding cannabis legalisation, and it’s important to be thoughtful before voting in support of legalisation.