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Robson's Cloudy Cannabis Vision Strikes Again

31 August, 2004
Robson's cloudy cannabis vision strikes again

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today accused Matt Robson of gross irresponsibility for misrepresenting the views of the Hawke's Bay Clinical Director of Mental Health, Dr Anne Walsh, following a presentation by her on cannabis issues in the Hawke's Bay.

"Mr Robson appears to have deliberately distorted comments by Dr Walsh in order to score cheap points" said Nandor, the Green Party's spokesperson for Cannabis Law Reform.

"In his charge for the moral highground, he has forgotten the importance of simple honesty."

Mr Robson's press release said today that "Dr Walsh said there is a need for further education about the strong link between using cannabis and mental illness but all such education programmes are undermined by the endless calls for decriminalisation by parties that fail our young and our future."

The Hawke's Bay District Health Board has confirmed today that this is an inaccurate reflection of Dr Walsh's comments. Her report indicated that the majority of people who use cannabis do so without problems but that for a small number of users there are very real issues. She made no comment on the pros or cons of law reform.

"Dr Walsh did call for more evidence-based education about cannabis, something that I strongly support."

Nandor also accused Matt Robson and other prohibitionist MPs of shoddy thinking on the issue.

"It is spurious to say that cannabis causes mental illness because many people with a mental illness use cannabis. There is good evidence that some people who are mentally unwell seek it out."

Nandor cited growing evidence that people with mental health problems do self-medicate with cannabis, for example the paper by Castle presented to the National Cannabis and Mental Illness Conference in Melbourne Australia last week.

"It's not a good idea, but it does happen. Politicians who say cannabis causes mental illness are not supported by the evidence. Science has yet to show that a causal link exists."

Nandor also said that the illegality of cannabis makes the kind of drug education called for by Dr Walsh more difficult.

"It has been a consistent finding of select committee inquiries and government studies around the world that cannabis prohibition hinders effective drug education. That is one of the strongest arguments for change to the law," he said.


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