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The NZ Drug Foundation welcomes the publication of today’s NZ Medical Journal editorial. The authors - specialists in addiction treatment, public health, Māori health equity, health promotion and epidemiology - are calling for a yes vote in the cannabis referendum to promote public health and equity.

“It’s a high point of the campaign to have such respected academics and specialists in their field come out publicly for a Yes vote. We applaud the authors for their brave and carefully considered article setting out the public health benefits of legalising cannabis”, Executive Director Ross Bell said.

“When it comes to drug use, we all want the best possible health outcomes for New Zealanders. I think that’s true for people who are voting no, as well as yes voters. This article should give people confidence that a yes vote is in line with the evidence about improving public health outcomes in the way we deal with cannabis.”

Ross Bell commented, “The editorial argues that health harms from cannabis use are experienced predominantly by those who start using young, use heavily and frequently, use high potency products and/or have a history of psychosis in the family. The experts are saying, and I strongly agree with this, that these are the population groups that we must focus on if reducing harm is our goal.

“Prohibition gives us no tools to meaningfully reduce harm. Legal regulation allows us to start putting some proper controls around the use of cannabis that can really benefit those vulnerable groups. Some examples include labelling products with health warnings, controlling where products are sold and who can buy them, setting rules around potency, and making sure there are ID checks so no one under 20 may purchase it.”

The editorial, “The Cannabis Referendum: Why a yes vote offers a net gain for public health”, was co-authored by:

  • Professor Michael G Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington
  • Professor Papaarangi Reid, Head of Department of Māori health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland
  • Professor Louise Signal, Head of Department, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington
  • Dr Sam McBride, Community Alcohol and Drug Service, Te-Upoko-me-te-Whatu-o-Te-Ika Mental Health, Addictions & Intellectual Disability Sector 3DHB, Wellington.

The article "The Cannabis Referendum: why a yes vote offers a net gain for public health" was published on 9 October 2020. 

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