Leading psychiatrists across the country have stressed the harm of cannabis, which they say could lead to psychosis, ahead of a referendum to legislate its personal use at the 2020 general election.
It comes after a debate was held at the Royal Australian and annual Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists conference, which wrapped up in Nelson today.
The organisation, known by its acronym RANZP, said in a statement it believes that if cannabis is legalised it must be regulated - preferably by the Government - and underpinned by a stringent harm reduction strategy.
RANZCP's New Zealand faculty of addiction psychiatry subcommittee chair, Dr Susanna Galea-Singer, added that a "a comprehensive educational campaign is initiated well in advance of the referendum".
Ms Galea-Singer said the campaign "should inform the public of the various options around the supply and sale of cannabis and possible harms associated with each option".
"It is important to note that all drug use – whether alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs – is first and foremost a health behaviour," she said.
"Cannabis is not a harmless substance, and can result in dependency, as well as psychosis in serious cases.
"If the use becomes problematic, through abuse or dependence, impacting the individual or whānau's life, it then becomes a health service issue."