In the latest news in the war against cannabis in New Zealand, it has been revealed the National Drug Intelligence Bureau (NDIB), a police-led agency, refused to pull a report which claimed cannabis is the “cornerstone” of drug harm in this country.

The 111 page report titled New Cannabis: The Cornerstone of Illicit Drug Harm in New Zealand, produced by analyst Les Maxwell in 2007, claims cannabis costs the country more than $30 million annually and results in more than 2,000 hospital admissions a year.

Steve Dawson, an Auckland sociologist, refused to buy the claims in the report and decided to delve deeper.

“I’d never met any of the 2,000 [people] a year who were clogging up the hospitals – you know, the stoned wandering the streets and A&Es saying ‘help me!’ – so I thought I’d look into it.”

Steve requested copies of the data used in the report from the NDIB, only to be told it had been ‘lost’ or perhaps ‘incorrectly saved’.

After years of fighting for the data release, he eventually found out why the NDIB didn’t want the data under public scrutiny.

They had manipulated data analysis as to exaggerate cannabis hospital admissions ten-fold by including all ‘secondary’ admissions, despite the primary cause of hospitalization being completely unrelated to cannabis.


Cannabis harm statistics NDIB

NDIB false data analysis exaggerating hospital admissions ten-fold.

An example of this is a man who spent 240 days in hospital due to prostate cancer being incorrectly included in the statistics as a cannabis related admission, simply because cannabis use was coded as one of his relating social circumstances.

The NDIB refused to pull the report once these findings were revealed, on the basis it could “negatively affect the reputation of the NDIB for producing high quality intelligence assessments”.

Official Information Act documents later showed that Ministry of Health officials warned the report would harm the NDIB’s reputation, claiming there was inadequate consultation and recommended the report be pulled because of “significant concerns” surrounding the quality of the information.

The police welcomed the findings at the time, claiming “we can see the harm it causes with the number of hospital admissions caused solely by cannabis” and that most of the ‘primary’ admissions were because of psychotic disorder, with “harmful use” being the ‘secondary’ contributor.

In 2013, the report was quietly removed from police website and local intranet, with the police claiming it was ‘over six years old’ rather than it being manipulated data with clear intent to misinform the public.

Since then however, no public retraction has been received from the police to rectify the misinformation spread.

And so the questions remain: how many taxpayer dollars were allocated in extra funding due to these exaggerated claims, and how many people in the community were negatively influenced in relation to perceived cannabis harm by the report?

To date, this is one of the clearest examples highlighting corruption within the New Zealand police force, where propaganda has been used to manipulate funding and operational powers as well as to justify the failed war on cannabis.

By refusing to retract the report publicly, the police and NDIB are complicit in manipulating data sets to suit their own agenda.

The NDIB has now proven it is not concerned with being a credible source and cannot be relied upon to producing reports for the police, reports which are used to guide current policy and legislation in New Zealand society.

Had it not been for investigative work of one man, Steve Dawson, false reports would still be used to define anti-cannabis legislation to date.

How an unemployed Westie discredited a key police report on cannabis
Senior health officials tried to have cannabis report pulled but police refused


3 Responses

  1. Lenny

    Les Maxwell a one person report ! Shouldn’t reports be done by a team of experts !
    And what are the qualifications of this person. A PhD in what ? and is the qualification in a related discipline that can provide a report. How does this report address finding contrary to finding in other much more developed countries than our own little island nation. I expect, Les Maxwell is a one man band, without qualification on his own personal witch-hunt. And probably told what bias to say by his superiors. This is what I suspect is the real opinion of the Police on this issue:

  2. Tyrone Quintas

    Gives the issue public attention that the police are lowering their stance on cannabis. This would lead, potentially, greater acceptance of cannabis and could be the push towards getting it legalised which they don t want because it could compromise some of their funding.


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