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In the 02/11/2019 edition:

Cannabis: I wish this referendum had a third option

Feb 11, 2019 12:36 pm

Stuff co.nz 11 February 2019
Family First Comment: Interesting commentary
“As a parent, I am worried about the normalisation of weed – worried that it becomes as common and accepted as seeing a group of workers puffing on cigarettes on the street during smoko/vapo, or passing an outdoor bar filled with jolly drinkers. Some friends visiting from the legal-marijuana state of Colorado recently reported people openly smoking dope on the streets, despite public consumption remaining illegal.  The neighbourhoods around high schools, they said, generate plenty of afternoon business for local growers.  For my extended family in Illinois, where its medicinal use has been legal for two years and 2019 is likely to bring recreational legality, cannabis is easy to source and casually discussed in many circles.”

OPINION: When sex work was decriminalised in 2003, it made sense to me. Shining some legislative light on an industry that had functioned in regulatory darkness for millennia seemed the right thing to do, at last allowing health and safety standards, tax obligations, and employment laws into workspaces of the industry’s staff, clients and business owners.

By most accounts, the Prostitution Reform Act took the crime out of sex services in New Zealand.  After 15 years and many evaluations, including surveying sex workers, many now agree this contentious legislation has had a positive effect on, at least, the working environment and safety of sex workers and their clients.

Could cannabis users benefit from similar thinking?  Should we get the growth and sale of marijuana out of dank tinny houses and gang-controlled crops and into the light of our everyday?

Medicinal cannabis is a no-brainer; it’s alarming that such an effective pain relief didn’t hit the legitimate market decades ago.  Dealing with laws around its recreational use is much more vexed.

I have always liked the idea of regulating aspects of the sector to improve both the quality of the product and the conditions for people working in the sector. For example, if growers were part of a legitimate, not hidden, supply chain, government could ensure consumers are aware of the level of the crop’s THC – the plant’s active ingredient, responsible for most of its psychological effects. Governments around the world already regulate how alcohol and tobacco products are marketed so their alcohol and nicotine levels are known to buyers. The notion that a regulating structure could bring consistency to a drug used by 13 per cent of Kiwis (the UN Office on Drugs and Crime tells us) sounds as sensible as legitimising prostitution work.

But as discussion of cannabis legalisation increases after the government announcement of a binding referendum on the issue next year, and as my kids blast through adolescence surrounded by risks and distractions my generation never had to face, I have recently questioned my thinking.

As a parent, I am worried about the normalisation of weed – worried that it becomes as common and accepted as seeing a group of workers puffing on cigarettes on the street during smoko/vapo, or passing an outdoor bar filled with jolly drinkers. Some friends visiting from the legal-marijuana state of Colorado recently reported people openly smoking dope on the streets, despite public consumption remaining illegal.  The neighbourhoods around high schools, they said, generate plenty of afternoon business for local growers.  For my extended family in Illinois, where its medicinal use has been legal for two years and 2019 is likely to bring recreational legality, cannabis is easy to source and casually discussed in many circles.  If New Zealand follows the trend and votes yes in the referendum, having weed as part of our everyday lives is something we will have to be ready for.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/110448280/i-wish-this-referendum-had-a-third-option

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Taxpayer Should Not Fund Sex Change Operations – Poll

Feb 11, 2019 11:41 am

Independent polling by Curia Market Research has found strong opposition to taxpayer funding of sex change procedures.

In the poll of 1,000 New Zealanders surveyed, respondents were asked “Do you think the taxpayer should fund surgery and hormone treatments for people who wish to change their sex?”

63% opposed taxpayer funding, 27% supported it, and a further 11% were unsure or refused to say.

The strongest opposition came from males, younger people, those in high deprivation areas, and NZ First & National voters.

Taxpayers seem to be strongly of the view that the health budget should be focused on hip operations, unilateral mastectomies, treatment of endometriosis, cardiovascular disease, and prostate cancer procedures, amongst others.

As stated in the recent reportChildren Transitioning: Childhood gender dysphoria – A paediatrician’s warning to New Zealand” written by Professor John Whitehall who is Foundation Chair and Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Western Sydney, there is no scientific evidence in medical literature to support the massive interventions of the medical pathway. To the contrary, there are multiple expressions of the need for evidence, and lamentations about its lack. The medical pathway is based only on ideology, and claims of ‘success’ reflect beliefs, not science. Even worse, these beliefs are not negotiable: they have become coercive. And the government appears to have become a victim of this ideology and its coercion.

The government recently lifted the cap on gender reassignment surgery. Under the previous National government, the state funded three male-to-female surgeries and one female-to-male every two years. Associate Health Minister and Green MP Julie Anne Genter announced that this will now be the minimum number of surgeries to be performed every two years.

New Zealand’s chief medical officer has said there were 111 people waiting for surgery: 84 male to female, and 27 female to male. Ministry of Health figures put the average cost of male-to-female surgery at $53,382, with individual surgeries costing between $25,587 at their lowest up to $81,975. The costs for female-to-male surgery are higher, averaging $218,892, with a range of $45,169 to $525,034.

The nationwide poll was carried out during December and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

READ THE FULL POLL RESULT

 

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Billboard Campaign Encourages Nope To Dope

Feb 11, 2019 11:08 am

A billboard campaign is warning families and encouraging them to think deeply about the possible legalisation of marijuana, and to vote against the proposal in the 2020 referendum. The first billboard has been put up in Christchurch, with further billboards to be used around the country.

Family First NZ has also released a 24-page Briefing for Families, and there are also 1-page Briefing Sheets on specific issues.

Topics covered include:

  • what are the known health harms of marijuana?
  • why is the referendum much more than just being able to ‘smoke a joint’?
  • the problems with statements like “the war on drugs has failed” and “it’s a health issue, not a legal issue”
  • what effect will legalisation have in the workplace, on road safety, with pregnant mums and young people, on family violence & child abuse, and will it really get rid of the ‘black market’ and gang involvement?
  • is growing marijuana ‘green’?
  • what’s the next step in this drug agenda?

Evidence shows that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. In US states that have already legalised the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashesyouth marijuana use, and costs that far outweigh tax revenues from marijuana. These states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, sustained marijuana arrest rates, and tobacco company investment in marijuana. Portugal has seen a rise in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco consumption and of every illicit psychoactive substance (affected by the weight of cannabis use in those aged 15-74) in the last five years.

Families simply don’t want marijuana plants being grown next door by dope dealers in view of the children, tinnie houses on street corners and pot shops in local shopping areas, an increase in drugged driving, or marijuana being disguised as lollies and edibles as has happened overseas. Colorado, for example, has more marijuana businesses than McDonalds and Starbucks combined.

Legalising marijuana and the rise of Big Marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people. There are too many health risks including the effect of marijuana on cognitive ability, cardiac function and psychosis.

It remains highly ironic that at the same time as we tear the labelling off cigarette packets, price them out of existence, and ban them from being smoked within breathing space of any living creature, supporters of marijuana are peddling the same myths that we believed for far too long about tobacco – that marijuana is harmless. But of course, a new business market is all very exciting – especially one based on addiction. Could our current mental health services cope? They can’t even cope now.

www.SayNopeToDope.org.nz will inform families about the attempts to legalise marijuana, and to help them speak up in the public debate.

 

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Early childhood centres like ‘kiddie prisons’, teachers say

Feb 11, 2019 10:20 am

Stuff co.nz 10 February 2019
Family First Comment:  Ouch! (but sadly the truth for many)… 
“I’m a qualified teacher and have left the sector due to bullying and an environment that does not foster best learning for children. I definitely would not put my children in a centre environment – or should I say ‘kiddie prison’. Children are cooped up for long periods of time, probably spending more time there than they do at home with their own family.”

More than 200,000 Kiwi kids are enrolled in early childhood education – but teachers say parents don’t know what happens behind centres’ closed doors.

“bums on seats” approach puts children’s safety and development at risk, teachers told Stuff.

The 300 services that had their licence downgraded in the past two years are the tip of the iceberg, they said, and problems could go undetected for years.

Stuff readers working in ECE joined the chorus of teachers voicing concerns about the sector. Here’s what they had to say.

“I have been an ECE teacher for nearly 25 years. I have three children and I never wanted to put them into daycare.

“My youngest child did attend but that was only once she was was able to talk so she could tell me everything that happened.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/110421167/early-childhood-centres-like-kiddie-prisons-teachers-say

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