Legalising cannabis: exploding the myths

At next year's election, New Zealanders will vote in a binding referendum on personal cannabis use. Are we ready?

Professor Benedikt Fischer, Chair in Addiction Research at the University of Auckland's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, says Aotearoa New Zealand has to design a way to legalise cannabis that will work in our cultural, social and health environment. 

In a wide-ranging interview with Radio New Zealand's Jesse Mulligan, Professor Fischer explores the public health case for regulating cannabis and taking it out of black markets.

He discusses the evidence on health effects, implications for setting age limits, debunks the myth that cannabis is a gateway drug, and warns that our legislators will have to carefully regulate the "pleasure industry" as major multinationals move into the cannabis market in places where the drug has already been legalised, such as Professor Fischer's native country, Canada.

"The devil is really in the millions of details...There's no cookie-cutter solution - you can't just go to Canada or Colorado and say we're just going to copy what you did," he tells Jesse Mulligan.

"The first thing that New Zealand needs, from what I've learned in the couple of months since I've been here, is you first have to get the right proposal and idea conveyed to people in advance of the referendum and ask people the right question. What are you really putting to people, what are they supposedly deciding on? I don't think there's clarity about that yet in the New Zealand policy and political environment."

Listen to the full interview on the RNZ website

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