Synthetic cannabis deaths spike in New Zealand, igniting legalisation debate
New Zealand Synthetic cannabis deaths spike in New Zealand, igniting legalisation debate
Medics say they are called to dozens of overdoses from drug that is cheaper and more addictive than natural product
The number of fatal overdoses from synthetic cannabis use has soared in New Zealand, going from two deaths in five years to 45 in 12 months.
The emergency St John ambulance services said it received about 30 call-outs a week relating t o synthetic cannabis overdoses. The drug could be bought in corner stores very cheaply before it was outlawed in 2014.New Zealand drug-driving deaths surpass drink-driving toll for first time Read more
New Zealandâs two major political parties have proposed bills to legalise medicinal cannabis, recognising a correlation between the spike in synthetic cannabis deaths and the expense and illegality of natural cannabis.
The executive director of the Drug Foundation Ross Bell said legalising natural cannabis would go a long way to curbing peopleâs use of synthetic cannabis, which was far more potent, addictive and dangerous. âLetâs legalise natural cannabis to get rid of synthetic stuff,â Bell told Radio NZ.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardernâs Labour party has long supported legalising cannabis for medicinal use, and in a shock move this week the conservative opposition National party proposed its own bill to legalise the drug, despite o pposing legalisation for more than a decade.
The National partyâs medicinal marijuana bill proposes that medicinal cannabis products be approved in the same way a medicine is approved by regulator Medsafe, that medical practitioners should decide who has access to the drug, that cultivators and manufacturers must be licensed and products will be pharmacist-only medicine.
Opposition leader Simon Bridges said: âNew Zealanders deserve greater access to high-quality medicinal cannabis products to ease their suffering but we must have the right regulatory and legislative controls in place.â
Green MP ChlÃ¶e Swarbrickâs bill on legalising medicinal marijuana failed on its first reading in January, but as part of its coalition deal with Labour, Ardern has promised she will hold a referendum on legalising recreational marijuana use before the end of 2020. âIâve always been very vocal about the fact that I do not believe people should be imprisoned for the per sonal use of cannabis,â said Ardern.
âOn the flip-side, I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them.âTopics
- New Zealand
- Asia Pacific
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Twitter
- Share via Email
- Share on LinkedIn
- Share on Pinterest
- Share on Google+
- Share on WhatsApp
- Share on Messenger
- Reuse this content