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Twenty years on from the New Zealand Drug Foundation’s first cannabis and health symposium, Professor Wayne Hall is returning to New Zealand to talk about the health effects of our most popular illegal drug.

Professor Hall gave his first public lecture on cannabis here in New Zealand in 1993 after the Australian government asked him to review the available research on the drug. Now working at the University of Queensland and a member of the International Narcotics Control Board, Professor Hall will open the International Drug Policy Symposium on cannabis and health in late November by speaking about what he has learned about the adverse health effects of cannabis since 1993 and how the science has changed.

“Thanks to more research, including excellent research in New Zealand, some things are much clearer than they were in 1993,” Professor Hall said.

“Namely, there is a cannabis dependence syndrome for which increasing numbers of persons are seeking treatment; and cannabis use contributes to motor vehicle accidents.”

Professor Hall said the longitudinal studies from Christchurch and Dunedin have found strong associations between daily cannabis use by adolescents and poor psychosocial and mental health outcomes in young adulthood.

“Debate continues about the role that cannabis use plays in producing these outcomes. The health effects (e.g. cancer and cardiovascular risks) of long term cannabis use throughout adulthood remain unclear,” Professor Hall said.

Professor Hall says cannabis is a misunderstood drug because it was assumed to have no health risks.

“It would be a remarkable drug if its use did not cause harm to some users, especially those who use daily over periods of years or decades, or those with increased pre-existing risks of developing mental disorders and cardiovascular diseases.”

New Zealand Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell said it will be good to have Professor Hall back in New Zealand to talk about the health effects of cannabis.

“In the last 20 years, a lot has changed about our understanding of the health effects of cannabis and Professor Hall has been at the cutting edge of the research,” Mr Bell said.

“It’s great to have a world renowned expert who lives in our backyard come to share his knowledge and shed more light than heat on issues around cannabis.”

For the full programme or to register for the 2013 International Drug Policy Symposium, Through the maze: Cannabis and Health please visit drugfoundation.org.nz/cannabis-and-health

What: 2013 International Drug Policy Symposium. Through the maze: Cannabis and Health
Where: Rendezvous Hotel, 71 Mayoral Drive, Auckland
When: 29–29 November, 2013
Info: www.drugfoundation.org.nz/cannabis-and-health

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