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Marijuana 'has been romanticised' - Methcon

Friday 11 May 2012 10:01 a.m.

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By 3 News online staff

The Civil Aviation Authority is planning an education and safety campaign on the effects of drug use after reports on two aviation disasters mentioned drug use as factors.

The pilot in the Carterton hot air balloon crash and two sky diving instructors in the 2010 Fox Glacier crash were all found to have cannabis in their blood.

Dale Kirk from the drug education consultancy Methcon says marijuana use has been "romanticised".

“It’s a passive acceptance in New Zealand that cannabis is ok, we’ve been sold this romantic notion for years that cannabis is a soft drug, it’s harmless, we’ve compared it to other harder drugs such as methamphetamine or heroin… yet it’s a drug that has developed over time, it’s a lot more stronger than it was 30 or 40 years ago, we’ve got inter-generational use now… it’s no surprise to me having seen firsthand that it’s widespread,” he told Firstline this morning.

Mr Kirk is calling for studies to be done on the way cannabis impacts the development of the brain in young people, and does not believe the drug should be made legal.

“The pro-cannabis people will say, ‘Look, we need to decriminalise it because y’know, people are using it for pain relief and that sort of thing,'" says Mr Kirk.

"I say [we should] set the bar high and not give in to that."

He says marijuana use can impact pilots.

“Airline pilots have been tested on flight simulators, and then they’ve been given small amounts of cannabis to smoke, and then tested again 24 hours later and the results have been quite frightening – for example some of these testees have actually failed to hit the runway at all after one joint,” he says.

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