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2013 International Drug Policy Symposium. Through the maze: Cannabis and Health

9 May 2013
This article was published 11 years ago. Content may no longer be relevant.
Nov 27, 2013

2013 International Drug Policy Symposium. Through the maze: Cannabis and Health

Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Organiser: New Zealand Drug Foundation

2013 international drug symposium cannabis and health banner

Through the Maze: Cannabis and Health International Drug Policy Symposium brought together some of the best minds about cannabis and health from around the world for three days in Auckland, New Zealand from 27-29 November 2013.

In 1993 the New Zealand Drug Foundation held our first Cannabis and Health conference. Over the past 20 years a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same.

Questions around cannabis constantly cause confusion. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of issues around the world’s most widely used illicit drug. That’s why we’re putting on an international Symposium around cannabis and health to address the real health, policy and research issues around cannabis.

A recording of each session is available. Go to the playlist on YouTube or start watching below.

Speakers included:

Professor Wayne Hall
University of Queensland

Professor Hall spoke at our first cannabis and health conference in 1993. He specialises in addiction, mental health, and public health.

Nadia Solowij
Associate professor, School of Psychology University of Wollongong

Nadia is a genius on the effects of cannabis and the brain.

Professor Steve Allsop
Professor and Director of the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University of Technology

Steve is an expert in all things cannabis prevention, treatment and policy. Find out more about him here.

Steve Rolles
Head of Productions and Senior Policy Analyst at Transform Drug Policy Foundation

Travelling all the way from the UK. Steve is a guru on global drug policy.

Professor David Fergusson
Founder and Director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, University of Otago

Professor Fergusson leads a world class 35 year old longitudinal study of a birth cohort. Professor Fergusson also spoke at the 1993 cannabis conference. Find out more about him here.

Professor Richie Poulton
Director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit

Stephen Bright

Stephen Bright is a Psychologist and PHD candidate at Curtin University. He is a world leader about new and emerging drugs.

Dr Fraser Todd
Deputy Director, National Addiction Centre

Fraser's areas of special interest include cannabis and coexisting substance use and mental health problems. Find out more about him here.

Here is the programme outline with links to presentations.

DAY 1: Wednesday 27 November

Opening Session

Tuari Potiki, Drug Foundation chairperson

See video above.

10.15-11.30am: Cannabis and health 20 years on

This opening keynote presentation will examine the current state of evidence of all things cannabis, followed by Q&A and panel discussion. The neat thing about this session is that Professor Hall spoke at our 1993 Cannabis and health conference, and will reflect on how much our understanding of cannabis has changed in the past 2 decades. The science has changed, but has our response?

Professor Wayne Hall, The University of Queensland; Member, International Narcotics Control Board

What have we learned about the health effects of cannabis in the last 20 years? Slideshow (PDF, 757 KB). See video above.

11.30am-1.00pm: Hiding behind the green screen

A plenary presentation and interactive workshop on the cultural and historical aspects of cannabis, especially relating to Aotearoa New Zealand. Paroa will be drawing on his clinical work as well as from his award winning documentary, Hiding behind the green screen.

Paora Te Oti Takarangi Joseph, filmmaker and clinical psychologist

Mātāpuna - A mirror. Slideshow (PDF, 1.6 MB). See video above.

2.15-4.20pm: The current science of cannabis and its effects on mental health, cognition and life course.

Two of the best minds will discuss cutting edge science on the impacts of cannabis on cognitive functioning and life course outcomes; they won’t leave you guessing about what the science tells us. Plenary presentations followed by Q&A and panel discussion.

Professor Richie Poulton, Director, Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit

(PDF, 6.9 MB)Health consequences of cannabis use. Slideshow. See video above.

Associate Professor Nadia Solowij, School of Psychology, University of Wollongong

Cannabis, the brain, cognition and psychosis:The good, the bad and the unknown. Slideshow. See video above.

DAY TWO: Thursday 28 November

9.00-11.00am: What are the wider social and community impacts of high rates of cannabis use, as well as the impacts of policies and laws to control the world’s most popular illicit substance.

This session will be anchored by David’s 35 year study of a birth cohort of 1265 children born in the Christchurch region in mid-1977. We will look at the social outcomes from this cohort with a focus on participants who have used cannabis. We will then invite our panellists to take a broader view and discuss the social and community impacts of our cannabis law, with an emphasis on Māori and young people.

Professor David Fergusson, founder and director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study

The Adverse Consequences of Cannabis Use: Summary of Findings from the Christchurch Health & Development Study. Slideshow (PDF, 330 KB). See video above.

Khylee Quince, Tumuaki/Associate Dean (Māori), Faculty of Law, Auckland University

The Impact of Cannabis Laws Upon Māori. Slideshow (PDF, 894 KB). See video above.

Sasha Norrie, JustSpeak

Young people, drug offending, diversion, and reimagining. Slideshow (PDF, 461 KB). See video above.

11.30am-1.00pm: Reducing cannabis harm with interventions in the criminal justice system

We now shift our focus on how do we reduce cannabis harm – harm from the substance as well as harm from the control system. This session will showcase law reform, policing and court interventions.

Fifa Rahman, Policy Manager, Malaysian AIDS Council

Away from Criminal Justice: Interventions in Asia and Beyond. Slideshow (PDF, 1020 KB). See video above.

Professor Steve Allsop, Director, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University

The role of diversion in responding to drug related harm. Slideshow (PDF, 726 KB). See video above.

Judge Jane McMeeken, Christchurch Youth Drug Court

Christchurch Youth Drug Court. Slideshow (PDF, 206 KB). See video above.

2.15-5.15pm: What are the best interventions available to us to prevent early cannabis use, promote health and harm reduction, and treat cannabis dependency?

This session will draw on the expertise of people involved in prevention research, treatment of co-existing disorders, community and school-based action to best practice and evidence-based health interventions.

Professor Steve Allsop

Cannabis: prevention and public health responses. Slideshow (PDF, 1.1 MB). See video above.

Dr Fraser Todd, National Addiction Centre and Matua Raki

Seeds of discontent: thoughts on the prevention and treatment of cannabis use problems. Slideshow (PDF, 1.1 MB). See video above.

Dr Kevin Sabet, Director, Drug Policy Institute and Assistant Professor, College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida

Preventing and treating marijuana use. Slideshow (PDF, 1.7 MB). See video above.

Ben Birks Ang, Team Leader, Stand Up and Amplify services, Odyssey House, Auckland

DAY THREE: Friday 29 November

9.00-10.30am Medical cannabis

OK, so is cannabis the wonder cure for all that ails us, or shouldn’t we believe the hype?

Associate Professor Michelle Glass, Head of Department, Pharmacology & Clinical Pharmacology, University of Auckland

The brain and cannabis: basic pharmacology. Slideshow (PDF, 607 KB). See video above.

Professor Wayne Hall

Medical cannabis conundrums. Slideshow (PDF, 6 MB). See video above.

Dr David Allsop, National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, Sydney

Cannabinoid replacement therapy for management of cannabis withdrawal: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Sativex. Slideshow (PDF, 4.4 MB). See video above.

11.00am-1.00pm The Great Cannabis Debate!

Let’s get ready to rumble. A head-to-head debate between the new Titans of global drug policy.

We actually don’t mean to be frivolous. In this moderated debate we hope to shed more light than heat on the contested world of cannabis policy and law. Two US states have legalised cannabis and Uruguay looks to be the first country to do the same. But is regulation the right answer or will it open the door to a heavily commercialised market dominated by “big cannabis”. As the world begins to seriously explore options for legal market regulation, what are the potential risks and benefits?

Kevin Sabet, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, US and author of Reefer Sanity: Seven great myths about marijuana.

Steve Rolles, Transform Drug Policy Foundation, UK and author of How to regulate cannabis: A practical guide.

Slideshow (PDF, 2 MB). See video above.

2.15-3.15pm: Synthetic cannabinoids

Our cannabis debate has just examined regulations and law reforms over natural cannabis, but what the do we do with the new synthetic stuff? And what the hell is it anyway? Is it better, or worse than weed? Will it turn me into a cannibal? Or will New Zealand’s new psychoactive substances law keep me safe?

Stephen Bright, Co-ordinator, Addiction Studies, School of Psychology, Curtin University

Understanding Synthetic Cannabis: Who uses it, why do they use it, what are the harms and what are the policy options? Slideshow (PDF, 2 MB). See video above.

James Dunne, Senior Associate, Chen Palmer public law specialists

See video above.

3.15-4.00pm: Closing session: The next 20 years

A panel wrap up of key issues and priority actions identified during the symposium, plus some forward thinking about the big cannabis issues for the next 20 years.

See video above.

Here's a record of what was shared: 





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