A university student who started smoking cannabis when he was just 12 says the drug makes you complacent and lazy.
The young man spoke anonymously as the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll showed New Zealanders are divided over whether to decriminalise cannabis.
The poll showed 47 per cent support the idea of regulating the cultivation and sale of the drug, and 41 per cent were opposed. Twelve per cent didn't know.
Cannabis is popular with young Kiwis. By the age of 21 an estimated 80 per cent will have used it at least once.
"It does make you complacent. You become lazy. But I mean mentally, I'm not different," the student told 1 NEWS.
He has since given up using cannabis, to focus on his studies.
"Clarity, I sort of focus a lot better. Eating better definitely," he said.
You'd be requiring an increase in services in the mental health addiction sector "
Joseph Boden of Otago University
The Drug Foundation wants cannabis treated as a health issue, suggesting the drug should be decriminalised with its cultivation and sale regulated.
Drug researchers warn that where cannabis has been legalised, there has been an increase in rates of dependence.
"That would be particularly difficult in the New Zealand context because you'd be requiring an increase in services in the mental health addiction sector which is one of the most over stretched sectors out there," said Joseph Boden of Otago University.
Otago University also found that young people who use cannabis face more mental health problems, are more likely to use other illicit drugs and may struggle at school.
Jeremy McMinn, who has been an addiction specialist for 14 years, supports treating cannabis as a health issue and suggests an R20 sales restriction with no promotion, and increased drug education and treatment.
"It doesn't feel to me like our current legal structure around cannabis reduces harms," he said.
The issue is coming to the fore with the Misuse of Drugs Act up for review later this year.