Duncan Garner, Jake Tame and the latest ‘won’t someone think of the children’ reefer madness


Duncan Garner isn’t happy…

Duncan Garner: The referendum on cannabis worries me
This referendum on cannabis increasingly worries me.

I talk as father – a dad. I am a dad worried about the message we are sending to our kids.

I don’t hold the cool, hip, trendy view that’s ‘hey man let’s all go smoke ganja and it’ll fix our drug issues, it’ll smash the gangs and see an end to meth and other hard drugs’.

Bulldust. Who says? And how do they know?

When people say that to you call them out – what rubbish.

Here’s the worry. The momentum will be with those who wish to decriminalise or legalise.

So let me remind you of this. New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the western world. It’s shocking. Young Kiwis are more lonely, isolated, sad and depressed than they have ever been.

Now a US study of 23,000 young people found smoking cannabis as a teenager increases the risk of depression and that black hole even further.

It’s a stark warning – this debate is smacking us in the face. Why do something like make cannabis legal when we already know we have a problem?

…now, because cannabis reform is an issue close to my heart, I’m going to try to refrain from naked abuse so that people who are genuinely in the middle of the cannabis debate aren’t swayed by anything other than the facts because if we stick to the facts, the only sensible conclusion you can reach is a highly regulated legal cannabis market. I want you to base your decision in the referendum on facts and smart social policy outcome values instead of whatever fear mongering nonsense Duncan bloody Garner is vomiting up on something as petty and shallow as Breakfast TV.

I did say I’d try to refrain from naked abuse, I didn’t actually state I would.

Okay, this argument Duncs is running with comes up every time cannabis prohibition is seriously challenged, it’s the ‘won’t someone think of the children’ argument. It goes like this, ‘Sure adults smoke cannabis, but if we legalise it, the children will smoke it and X research says blah blah blah bad for kids”.

This time around the X research is from the Journal of the American Medical Association which found cannabis consumption was associated with a higher risk of developing depression and suicidal behaviour..

Let’s reflect upon this argument.

Yes there certainly IS research that clearly tells us that cannabis consumption BEFORE the age of 18 CAN BE detrimental to teenagers mental health. There is also research that shows that if you are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia then there is an elevated risk IF you consume cannabis before 18.

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On closer inspection however, the research from the Journal of the American Medical Association doesn’t paint the bleak picture of doom that Duncan Garner seems to think it does…

The numbers showed that odds of attempting suicide were almost 3.5 times worse among those who used marijuana before the age of 18. But they didn’t find any real increase in anxiety for those who used cannabis as a teenager.

Wayne Hall, a professor at the Youth Substance Abuse Research Centre at the University of Queensland, says the findings are consistent with other studies.

However, a pitfall with this type of study is that it doesn’t account for the possibility that young people using marijuana may already have an increase risk in developing depression.

“One reason young people start using cannabis is that it lifts their mood,” he said.

The report explains that the adolescent brain is still under development and drugs like cannabis may alter it.

While researchers said the individual risk remains moderate to low and there should be more studies to solidify their conclusions, they did stress their finding that the impact of cannabis was real.

…right so the studies could be skewed by more depressed teens trying cannabis in the first place and even if accepted we are talking a low to moderate level of risk.

Ok, so it’s not sending all teens into a pit of depression where they end up playing roulette with razor blades, and the obvious solution to Dunc’s concerns that teens under 18 would smoke cannabis is to regulate.

In an unregulated market, dealers will sell to anyone, including the teens Duncan is claiming to protect.

In an unregulated market, there is no taxation to pay for the rehabilitation services that those teens who might have a problem if they smoke it can go to.

In an unregulated market. those teens who do smoke it and do get into trouble are not helped by being prosecuted and jailed.

In a regulated market, taxation can be ring fenced to be spent directly on rehabilitation services.

In a regulated market, no one under 20 could buy cannabis.

In a regulated market, those who had problems could get treatment.

In a regulated market, ANYONE caught selling to anyone under 20 would face enormous fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So there is a small issue of mental health in those who smoke it but that problem is exacerbated by prohibition, the solution to the mental health issues is a regulated, taxed market that only allows small to medium sized businesses (like the craft beer industry – not large corporations)  to be involved in the recreational retail market selling under a tightly regulated regime.

Duncan is right to be concerned about protecting teenagers from the danger of cannabis, we should all be concerned about that, but if we actually cared we would demand a highly regulated cannabis industry to protect them because the current unregulated market means teens can get cannabis already.

PS – the only reason Jack Tame’s name appears in the headline is to ensure he read this blog.


  1. I favor legalisation, but not a”Highly regualted Market” similar to Alcohol and tobacco where companies rely on 20% of their customers to consume 80% of the product? How effective has regulation been in stopping youth getting a much more harmful drug, alcohol now?
    You do know how easy it is to grow right? I once got stopped from tramping because the police were cleaning up a valley where a crop had gone to seed. In the Lewis Pass snow I once found a plant growing from someones roach.
    There is no need for a “market solution”, just take the money out of it, and it wil become the drug of choice of elderly tomato growers

  2. Garner needs to ask himself if he really wants to still have people clogging up the court system because they are caught with a tinny in their bag. Or if we really need people facing a lifetime of unemployment and homelessness because they have a possession conviction.

  3. Duncan Garner is what we used to call back in the mid-1970s “a straight”. To be a “straight” you had to not only be a non-dope smoker but also hypocritical. The saying back then, and true to this day, is “never trust a straight”. Another even better example of a “straight” is John Key.

  4. Duncan Garner lives off these odd outbursts of conservatism, so for such an inaccurate and shock the parents article to be emitted from his brain, it is no surprise. Strangely enough, as a father, I am on the legalise side, and will not be swayed by the thought of my almost 2 year old ending up with drug problems. As you state, there is a better chance of controlling these things in a regulated market, with taxes that can fund education and rehabilitation. If my son starts smoking at age 12, I will accept the blame, and do what I can do help him. This will be a lot simpler if marijuana reform occurs and I don’t need to be concerned about criminal implications. I don’t smoke weed, and may never, but I have no doubt that alcohol and coffee (which I do regularly ingest) do much more harm in our society than the ganga ever could or would or will. While we are at regulation, can we hurry up and tax sugar, slumlords and Sanitarium? And carbon tax Fonterra and Fletchers?

  5. Another argument for democratic decision-making by sortition (selection by ballot) rather than referendum.

    A Citizens Assembly of 50 to 100 people selected by ballot to examine cannabis reform would have made a lot more sense. They would have produced their findings that would have gone to parliament for ratification.

    A referendum means that the populace at large gets to vote on a single simplified question that can be boiled down to yes or no. Who and how that important question gets formulated is another matter – but necessarily narrows scope and skews the result down a preset angle.

    What we’ll get – as evidenced by the extreme views of some parties already (it’s eighteen months away, we’re going to be sick of it by then) – is a nationwide inch-deep analysis (prejudice) of the matter. The strong proponents on both sides will have you think it’s a black and white issue: it’s not.

    A Citizens Assembly could have delved deep into the matter over six to twelve months and looked at it from all sides to come up with the best recommendations.

    It worked in Ireland, it could have worked here.

    • we are a citizens assembly, 4 million of us, and we deserve a say, inferring the questions wont be the correct ones on the referendum is crystal ball gazing, chloe turned garner to a stuttering idiot grasping at straws, this is all over social media, garner the scaremongering idiot, most people will hear and understand the evidence if it is intelligently displayed and make a personal informed choice, we should have more referendums on matters that concern our country,

  6. The problem in NZ is the Police have been hammering the Cannabis growers and users so hard over the years, they have switched to the P manufacturing & distribution, P is highly profitable, it is highly addictive and it is easy to acquire, P is less able to be detected through smell, and can be easily manufactured in a shed/basement/motel room/kitchen also P only stays in the bloodstream for 48 hours if the company you work for or WINZ choses to Blood Test you, P has a lot more positive marketing attributes compared to Cannabis for the Asian & NZ Gangs who are concentrating their Sales & Marketing efforts into the NZ Local Market.

  7. First: why are we giving weight to anything done in America? This is the country with the habit of starting ‘wars on’ to satisfy god-botherers, politicians, and people with commercial interests. A certain amount of bias can be expected.

    We have a piece of information about mental health without any context whatsoever. No background for the people who were in the study – urban/rural? Middle class/working class/high income? North/south? East coast/west coast? American-born or immigrant?
    Nothing. Just a ‘serious’ piece of oooh!

    There is no comparison with any other product.

    Apparently we have a high youth suicide rate. Cannabis is currently illegal – and the suicide rate is high. I wonder why.

    What’s happening in the wider environment? What judgemental stories are being circulated without counterbalance? (“Only skinny spot free people are worthy and if you aren’t invited to The weekend events you’re a douche forever” kinda thing.)

    Have we looked at the current culture of online bullying, sneering, shaming? People who were nowhere near cannabis chose to die because they were unmercifully bullied by kids clearly untaught the basics of civility and empathy.

    What’s legally available – or traditionally available? Good old booze. RTDs. Do we have studies on the effects of the OTT consumption of booze by young people? How do they compare with cannabis?

    If Mr Garner is a journalist instead of a not concerned enough parent – could he please do more homework before alerting his listeners to a less than sound opinion.

  8. I’d be more comfortable with the over 25 year olds only being allowed to smoke dope (unless prescribed medically) and with conditions.. at that stage you are old enough to make up your own mind and your brain’s frontal lobe is nearly fully developed…

    I wish more energy was put into get rid of Meth. It is killing our culture and sooo cheap to buy and easy to make and raw ingredients flooding in. But government doing next to nothing about it.

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