New cannabis strategy needed, say psychiatrists

Updated at 10:39 am on 27 May 2012

Drug addiction psychiatrists say prohibition of cannabis use has failed in New Zealand and it is time to talk about adopting another strategy.

As Parliament prepares to debate the Alcohol Reform Bill, the call is growing to re-examine the 37-year-old cannabis legislation.

Wellington Community Alcohol and Drug Service psychiatrists say the law on cannabis is illogical.

Psychiatrists say one of the worst aspects of criminalising cannabis use is that it leaves people, particularly young people, with a record that is out of proportion to the offence.

Dr Jeremy McMinn of the Wellington Community Alcohol and Drug Service says most addiction workers would support liberalisation of cannabis law, though not legalisation

The psychiatrists do not believe liberalising cannabis law would particularly add to their workload but would allow them to treat people who are currently too scared or ashamed to seek help.

They say although they see some clients with cannabis-induced psychosis, 80% of their work involves the legal drug, alcohol.

Listen to Insight programme on cannabis laws ( 27 min 51 sec )

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