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Professor supports calls to review cannabis law

Professor Max Abbott supports calls to review cannabis legislation

AUT University’s Professor Max Abbott strongly supports the call from Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse to review cannabis law.

According to Professor Abbott, who was previously National Director of the Mental Health Foundation and President of the World Federation for Mental Health, natural cannabis is safer than current synthetic versions. He believes the current law has failed to reduce cannabis use, needlessly criminalised tens of thousands of New Zealanders, wasted police and court resources, and fuelled organised crime.

“I don’t advocate the use of cannabis and other substances that cause harm. I advocate the abolition of laws that are illogical, waste time and money, do the opposite of what they were designed to accomplish, and overall do much more harm than good”, says Professor Abbott.

The 2012 United Nations Drug Report found New Zealand had the highest use of cannabis in the world – between nine and fifteen percent annually, much higher than the international average of three to four percent. Surveys show a much larger number have used cannabis at some time, and that most people who try the drug give it up.

“Countless expert reviews and commissions around the world, including New Zealand’s Parliamentary Select Committee in 1998, conclude that while heavy cannabis use has adverse effects, they are minor in comparison to tobacco, alcohol and, I would add, synthetic cannabis and a large number of prescribed medicines. Moderate use has little or no negative impact on most users, and is beneficial to some on medical grounds.”

Opinion polls show well over half of adult New Zealanders are in favour of reform. “It is time to revisit the 1998 Parliamentary Select Committee call for Parliament to review the appropriateness of existing policy and legislation relating to cannabis”, states Professor Abbott.

Ends.

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