The state of Colorado has beaten New Zealand, home of middle earth and blue aliens, into pole position for becoming the next marijuana destination of choice for tourists seeking legal highs.
It is estimated that the industry is worth $600 million to the state (more than NZ’s Avatar subsidy) and New Zealand is bound to notice a drop off in visitor numbers as tourists head to where they can buy legal, high quality product.
“Denver (CNN) — Colorado will begin allowing recreational marijuana sales on January 1 to anyone age 21 or over.
Residents will be able to buy marijuana like alcohol — except the cannabis purchase is limited to an ounce, which is substantial enough to cost about $200 or more.
It’s a big moment: Colorado will become the first state in the nation to open recreational pot stores and become the first place in the world where marijuana will be regulated from seed to sale. Pot, by the way, is the third most popular recreational drug in America, after alcohol and tobacco, according to the marijuana reform group NORML…” source
Despite having a low quality product (mainly indica crossbreeds with a low THC to CBD ratio) and a high incidence of paranoia and mental illness among frequent users, New Zealand has long been one of the most prolific users of the drug in the OECD (another source).
For a long time it has viewed legalization of the drug as potential to make big money out of tourists, rather than a way to protect its youth.
Last year a spokesman for Norml New Zealand said he
welcomes the legalisation of cannabis in the US states of Colorado and Washington and call for a similar law change here.
Norml vice-president Abe Gray said many people choose to visit and immigrate to New Zealand especially because of the laid back kiwi attitude and relaxed atmosphere.
“New Zealand has the highest rate of cannabis use in the developed world, and many of our tourists routinely solicit locals, looking to buy cannabis“, said Mr. Gray
“By simply legitimising what is already happening all over New Zealand, time and time again, every day, we could be free of the harmful effects of prohibition on kiwis, and reaping the windfall revenues projected by Colorado and Washington”…source
Cannabis use among adolescents in New Zealand is already high, with 80% of people having used it by the time they reach 21.
Fergusson, D and Boden, J of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, University of Otago, Christchurch complied a report called “Cannabis use in adolescence” and concluded.
Cannabis is the illicit drug most commonly used by New Zealand adolescents. Estimates suggest that by the age of 21 in the region of 80% of young people will have used cannabis on at least one occasion with 10% developing a pattern of heavy dependent use.
- There is increasing evidence to suggest that the regular or heavy use of cannabis may have a number of adverse consequences including increased risks of: mental health problems; other forms of illicit drug use; school dropout and educational under-achievement; motor vehicle collisions and injuries.
- Current approaches to reducing cannabis-related harms for adolescence have focused on: legislation, drug education and the provision of clinical services.
- There is a sound case for reviewing New Zealand’s legislation on the possession of cannabis to obtain a better balance between prohibition and harm avoidance strategies.
- While drug education is widely advocated as a means of reducing adolescent substance use the evidence for the effectiveness of this approach as a means of reducing risks of drug use is limited.
- There is growing evidence to suggest a number of effective treatments for addressing problems of cannabis abuse and dependence. These treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy motivational enhancement, contingency training and family based intervention.
- Future policy developments should consider:
- re-assessment of current legislation regarding the regulation of cannabis;
- evaluation of the effectiveness of drug education programmes as a means of reducing risks of illicit drug use, abuse and dependence;
- the development of best practice clinical guidelines for the treatment and management of young people having cannabis-related problems.
Is it postulated that the widespread use of the inferior quality drug by children is one of the reasons for the explosion of violent crime among the nation’s youth. Drug use is thought to have been a factor in the recent grievous assault of two German tourists camping in Whatakane.
Illicit drug offences rising
Statistics NZ’s figures show
New Zealand Police recorded more ‘deal or traffic in illicit drugs’ offences in 2012 than in previous years. This was due to significant increases in offences to ‘sell/give/supply/administer/deal cannabis plants’, and to ‘supply/administer/deal methamphetamine/amphetamines’.
During the 2009 International Drug Symposium: Healthy Drug Law held in Wellington, NZ concerns were voiced about the link between cannabis, alcohol and youth offending; and there was dismay at children using cannabis at younger ages.
The connection between youth offending and drug and alcohol use cannot be denied. Drugs and alcohol are part of the personal stories of most young offenders in New Zealand. International criminological and drug literature supports the view that those young people who use illicit drugs are more likely to engage in criminal activity.
Further, McAllister and Makkai report that their study shows a clear link between the age at which a young a person first tries marijuana and the likelihood they will engage in antisocial behaviour. Worryingly, the age at which young people in New Zealand are using cannabis for the first time is dropping.
Youth Court judges and those within the wider youth justice system must be alive to the influence that substance abuse and dependency can have on the reasons why a young person has come before the Court. Courts must also understand the options for helping young people and their families turn their lives around, while holding them accountable for their offending at the same time.
Before New Zealand jumps on the legal high band wagon it should make sure that only a quality product is produced and sold.
Stricter controls must be introduced to prevent access by children and adolescents before it is released to the general population. To legalize it under the present lax regime will only make New Zealand a more unsafe place in which to live. It will have severe repercussions for the collective mental health, already in decline.
Cannabis use in the Adventure tourism industry
New Zealand needs to take a responsible attitude towards drug use because of the number of fatal adventure tourism accidents in which cannabis had been used. At present random testing is not carried out in this sector. Please refer to Carterton Death Balloon Pilot “appeared too pissed and/or high” and Missed Mandatory Medical and “No Accountability in New Zealand” Fox Glacier Aviation Disaster and finally How Widespread Is Cannabis Use in NZ’s Adventure Tourism Industry?.
Do you know of someone whose mental health has been affected by New Zealand’s inferior cannabis, or who has been a victim of drug misuse or crime? We’d like to hear your story.
- Rip Off New Zealand – Pharmacy Prices a Bitter Pill for Tourists (e2nz.org)
- Cannabis use rife at Hutt Valley hospital (radionz.co.nz)
“The Hutt Valley District Health Board says there is little it can do to reduce cannabis getting into its mental health unit.
A former patient has spoken out, saying cannabis is regularly used by patients and it’s often smoked only metres from a nursing station…”
- 10 things to know about nation’s first recreational marijuana shops in Colorado (drugpolicydebateradar.wordpress.com)
- Cannabis trumps drink (stuff.co.nz)
- Colorado becomes first US state to sell cannabis (telegraph.co.uk)
- Colorado and Washington brace for ‘marijuana tourism’ surge (rawstory.com)
- E2NZ revisited: “Bashing Tourists Now a National Pastime?” (e2nz.org)
- Man Stabbed in Stomach By Youth Gang on Central Auckland Street (e2nz.org)
- German Tourist Couple Mugged in Whakatane, German Tourists Robbed in Invercargill (e2nz.org)