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Decriminalising pot?

Written By: - Date published: 1:32 pm, April 30th, 2012 - 96 comments
Categories: crime, drugs, police - Tags: ,

In Open Mike yesterday there was reference to this article:

Claim cops are ‘decriminalising dope by stealth’

Police have been accused of “decriminalisation by stealth” after a study showed cannabis possession arrests have halved in the last 18 years.

A Massey University research centre report shows despite the number of users remaining constant, arrests for cannabis possession since the late 1990s have fallen.

The Government says its policy is anti-cannabis and anti-decriminalisation, but the research shows there were 454 arrests for every 100,000 people in 1998, but only 227 by 2006.

Labour Justice spokesman Charles Chauvel said police had recognised the current approach to cannabis was failing, and had implemented changes in spite of the law. “It’s pretty much decriminalisation by stealth.”

He said a recent Law Commission report recommended cannabis be treated more as a health than a criminal issue, but Parliament “failed to act”.

A strong case can be made for decriminalisation, and Campbell Larsen made it in the comment linked above. I’ll quote it in full here:

Discretion is no substitute for a more appropriate law based on harm reduction. While it is certainly a good thing that minor infringements of the drug and other laws do not make their way into the justice system, it should not be seen a solution but rather a temporary fix until legislative changes can adjust the threshold of criminality in law to allow the situation to be dealt with more appropriately.

Police already have considerable ‘discretion’ in this country – if we allow the separation between the letter of the law and what is actually enforced to widen or persist then we run the risk of Police using enforcement as a stand over tactic when it suits them to be hard-line. Discretion does not provide the consistency of case-law and the judiciary and this is required for Justice. The days of the all-powerful and oft corrupt ‘Sherriff’ are gone and I would not see them return.

We should always be striving to ensure that our laws reflect the values and priorities of our communities. The criminalization of Cannabis is a hangover from the days of alcohol prohibition and a legacy of the failed war on drugs. It is a law which unjustly persecutes citizens – enforcing it merely brings the Police and the law into disrepute.

As a leftie who’s all in favour of leaving people alone to get on with their lives I’d like to be swayed by that argument, I really would. But I’ve heard the counter arguments from too many doctors about the impact of heavy pot use on health, and I’ve seen young lives damaged and held back by it. This is an issue where I confess that I reluctantly come down on the side of legal regulation. But if the police are backing off enforcing the current law, then it is time to have the decriminalisation debate. If we keep regulation, we need to decide what form it should take for the future.

96 comments on “Decriminalising pot? ”

  1. Uturn 1

    Strange convoluted article that one – the stuff.co.nz article I mean. The only people who came out looking responsible were the police. Wierd.

    I like this bit:

    “Police Minister Anne Tolley said she did not tell police how to enforce the law. “But this Government believes there is no place for drugs, or the supply and manufacture of any kind of drugs in our communities.”

    Hell, don’t tell the brewers! Or the café owners. Or pharmacists. Muppet.

    • Dr Terry 1.1

      Anne Tolley would deny all sick people the benefits of drugs? (I suppose, as when she was Education Minister, we must guess at what she really does mean. Her Government actually opposes “any kind of drugs”??

    • Te Reo Putake 1.2

      Her comments read like a coded attack on John Key to me. The leadership challenge can’t be far away.

  2. Ben 2

    Hi r0b,

    This is a repost from a reddit thread I read recently about the “dangers” of cannabis. You may find it interesting reading:

    [quote]
    In the studies I’m about to mention, the “sweet spot” for beneficial effects appear to be a maximum of 5 servings of cannabis per week. You are consuming much more than that, so you are probably still benefiting your health, but probably to a lesser degree than the amounts described in these studies.

    Smoking cannabis does not cause cancer. In the largest study of its kind, involving 1,212 patients (and a 1,040 person control group), even heavy, long-term cannabis smoking was not found to cause lung, mouth, or esophegeal (“upper aerodigestive tract”) cancers. (Hashibe et al., 2006) Even better, smoking cannabis appears to actively prevent cancer. A study from Brown University involving 434 patients and a control group of 547 people discovered that “… 10 to 20 years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma….” (Liang et al., 2009)

    Smoking cannabis does not harm the lungs like tobacco does. Smoking tobacco increases your risk of COPD. But not smoking cannabis by itself. A large study involving almost 900 people found “Smoking only marijuana was not associated with an increased risk of respiratory symptoms or COPD.” (Tan et al., 2009)

    Even better, smoking cannabis appears to improve lung function. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association measured the lung function of more than 5,000 participants over the course of 20 years. They measured both lung capacity and airflow rates. They also took into account those people who smoked tobacco, which they used as a control group. They found tobacco use hurt lung capacity in a linear fashion–the more tobacco people smoked, the less lung function they had. Not so with cannabis: light to moderate smoking increased both air flow rate and total lung capacity. The increased airflow rate disappears with heavy daily cannabis smoking, but even then, lung capacity still improved: “With very heavy marijuana use, the net association with [airflow rates] was not significantly different from baseline, and the net association with [lung capacity] remained significantly greater than baseline…” (Pletcher et al., 2012)

    Smoking cannabis does not harm the mind. Look, if you’re intoxicated, your IQ/cognitive function is going to go down. The question is, what does long-term cannabis smoking do to the mind, after the acute effects have worn off? The answer: nothing. A study published in the Archive of General Psychiatry has found that after a month of abstinence, heavy cannabis users, who’ve smoked pot at least 5,000 times in the past, score just as well in tests of intelligence, attention, learning and memory, compared to a control group. (Pope et al., 2001) Even better, moderate cannabis smoking has been found to raise your IQ. A different study found what we already know: IQ goes down when under the influence of cannabis, but once the cannabis is out of your system, there are no negative long term effects. But they found something even more interesting. Light to moderate users of cannabis–who smoke up to 5 joints per week–showed gains in their IQ scores! It wasn’t by much, but their IQ scores did increase compared to a non-smoking control group. (Fried et al., 2002)

    So, there you have it. From published scientific research, involving actual human beings, who consumed cannabis via smoking, and compared with control groups, you can say that smoking cannabis prevents cancer, improves lung function, and raises your IQ.

    Bear in mind, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the beneficial effects of cannabis found in animal, or in vitro studies, involving various cannabinoids in isolation, and administered by injection, orally, etc. I don’t feel these types of studies have the same weight, but they’re still interesting.

    Cannabinoids have been implicated in:

    preventing atherosclerosis (Steffens et al., 2005);
    fighting or preventing diabetes (Li, Kaminski, and Fischer, 2001);
    protecting the brain during strokes (Hampson et al., 1998);
    protection against age related cognitive decline (Albayram et al., 2010);
    preventing the formation of beta-amyloid “Alzheimer plaques” in the brain (though this may not indicate prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (Eubanks et al., 2008);
    growing new brain cells (Jiang et al., 2005);
    fighting lung cancer (Anju, et. al. 2007);
    fighting brain cancer (Guzmán et al., 2006);
    fighting colon cancer (Wang et al., 2008);
    fighting prostate cancer (Olea-Herrero et al., 2009);
    fighting breast cancer (McAllister, et al., 2007);
    and fighting pancreatic cancer (Carracedo et al., 2006).
    [/quote]

    UPDATE: Also, as you’re against the decriminalisation of cannabis because of anecdotal (I assume) evidence that it destroys young lives, are you also “for” the prohibition of alcohol on the same grounds?

    • bad12 2.1

      All of which shows that marijuana when used in moderation is in all reality not harmful to the user,

      I am all for simply ripping the marijuana laws out of the law books,(with some thought given to strengthening some aspects such as driving under the influence and work-place use),

      The public have simply been brainwashed into the fear of marijuana and it is my contention that should all the marijuana laws be ripped up and burnt New Zealand society would be altered negatively not by one iota…

      • Ben 2.1.1

        bad12: Agreed, though I think it’s important for pro-change types to acknowledge it does cause _some_ harm to it’s users, otherwise the argument is lost immediately (see Ropata’s comment below citing studies which have found it causes harm).

        • bad12 2.1.1.1

          OK,lets simplify the debate a little shall we, it might save on a ‘link war’ occurring as for any link the pro-decrimanalzation view can provide the anti view can match this,

          Here are a couple of naked facts, 1 in 100 people on the Planet Earth will at some stage in their life develop schizophrenia,

          No ifs or buts,by country, by race,by anything 1 in 100 people will at some point be inflicted with that particular disease of the mind,

          So, to ‘blame’ the use of marijuana as a causative of schizophrenia we must examine the use of that particular mind altering substance in society, what we find in New Zealand is that the curve of use on a graph for marijuana since the 1950’s where such usage barely registered on the graph has continually and relentlessly tracked UPWARD on the graph to the point where 75% of the population of New Zealand today say they have used or do use marijuana,

          You all can see where i am going with this right, for the use of marijuana to have a causative with regards to schizophrenia would mean that the numbers of those who exhibit schizophrenia would have had to as the numbers of those using marijuana rose in society in turn rose as well,

          The FACTS show this to be not the case, the number of schizophenics in society circa 1950’s =1 in 100, the number of schizophrenics in society circa 2012 =1 in 100,

          There is only 1 question therefor to answer, did the same number of people in New Zealand circa 1950’s smoke marijuana as the number of people in New Zealand do today,

          The answer to that is obvious,so as the number of those who are identified as schizophrenic has not risen at the same rate as the rise in marijuana users I can only draw the conclusion that the marijuana/schizophrenia linkage when addressing causatives is absolute bullshit….

          • TheContrarian 2.1.1.1.1

            I think what you are missing though is marijuana may not cause schizophrenia but in some it can replicate schizophrenia symptoms which are relived (and therefore not diagnosed) when marijuana is ceased to be used.

            • bad12 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Ummm No, I don’t think I am missing any such thing,the fact that I have not as yet addressed such things is self evident in my above comment as I have only chosen to address the supposed link between marijuana use and schizophrenia where the use of the marijuana is the supposed cause of that particular disease of the mind,

              What, in my opinion, marijuana does tend to do with regards schizophrenia is have a propensity to reveal that particular disease of the mind in the marijuana user should it be present in the particular individual,

              Even then the linkage is tenuous as the symptoms of schizophrenia are mostly only apparent in the early 20’s in terms of age for the sufferers of schizophrenia and most users of marijuana begin such usage in their teens…

            • freedom 2.1.1.1.1.2

              what a load of fetid dingo kidneys, pure unadulterated horse pucky. You ignore the basic principle that the onset of schizophrenia can occur at various stages in life and is more usually associated with environmental or physical stresses that activate a previously unknown or wrongly diagnosed condition.

              • bad12

                Ummm wrong again,this aint a post about the cause of schizophrenia, its about the legalization of marijuana,

                My references to schizophrenia have deliberately been confined in this instance to any perceived linkage with marijuana,

                Any linkage is at best tenuous and as I say above seem to have a foundation in bullshit,if you do wish for a discussion on the causes of schizophrenia outside of any supposed relationship with the use of marijuana ‘Open Mike’,in my opinion, would be the place to have such…

                • freedom

                  bad12, my reply was to the contrarian 🙂
                  just one of those ‘can be tough to follow replies after the post-numbers dissappear into the ether’ moments

                • McFlock

                  So you bring it up, then decide it’s off-topic when you’re challenged.

                  • bad12

                    Wrong, my post of 6.04 would seem lucid enough for even the dullest of wit to understand…

  3. BLiP 3

    Tell ya what: an “enforcement-free zone” would be great for tourism: ” Christchurch – The Amsterdam of the South Pacific ” Who needs a cycle track?

    • bbfloyd 3.1

      so the same people who have already stopped going to amsterdam because of the drug laws(the novelty has worn off, just like the dutch said it would)are suddenly going to find the extra money to come here for the same reason?

      i’m assuming you’re being sarcastic….

      an “enforcement free zone” is only ever going to happen if those who see a profit to be made start donating(anonymously) to the national party….

      most of the rest of us just want common sense laws that work for society, rather than attack it…

      • BLiP 3.1.1

        I doubt your alleged reduction in Amsterdam’s tourism is a sign that there is no market for stoner backpackers and grey hippy van drivers here. I understand the profit potential has already been identified, and its unlikely any players in that market have made donations to National Ltd™.

        I’m not sure who “most of the rest of us” are but I suspect they haven’t thought the issue through. Criminalising drug users is not the best outcome for society. It never has been – unless you believe society is best served by its government manufacturing fear to leverage increasingly draconian powers over its people. Time to reframe the “drugs with roots straight to hell” paradigm with a view towards seeing the issue as being one of “health”, not “crime”.

  4. captain hook 4

    Its about time pot was decriminalised.
    The fact of the matter is that you can grow your own and therefore it is basically untaxable.
    this allows the bluenoses, the bumblers and authoritarians free reign to persecute people who use it and try and cover them with some sort of moral opprobrium.
    New Zealanders love the law as it stands as it allows them to snek snoop and pry and put their peers in jail.
    all in all it is a complete failure if society is not allowed to police its own behaviour and instead allows its liberties and freedoms to become the province of small minded bigots and fools.

  5. ropata 5

    Ben that is a very selective view, the mainstream medical opinion is that cannabis is a risky drug that elevates the chances of developing schizophrenia or psychosis.

    http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070723/full/news070723-11.html
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/emotional_health/addictions/cannabis.shtml

    However I agree that tobacco is just as crappy so perhaps they should be regulated in a similar way. Perhaps tobacco and cannabis should be pharmacy only substances with the purchases tracked as (voltaren, codeine) are currently.

    • Ben 5.1

      Hi Ropata,

      You may have misunderstood my post: I’m not saying “there are no risk associated with cannabis use.” What I’m saying – as have many peer-reviewed medical studies – is that cannabis doesn’t deserve the “reefer madness” stigma it currently has. (Credit to the cotton farmers, though – they sure planted a deep seed there.)

      And anyway, what’s wrong with a bit of attention for positive aspects of something? The negative aspects get plenty of attention.

      It may, in some limited circumstances, cause problems for some individuals with a predisposition to certain conditions. Peanuts can also cause anaphylactic shock and death in some people, but no one’s screaming “let’s ban peanuts!”

      The pro-prohibition group also forget that humans have been experimenting with consciousness-altering substances for thousands of years, and it’s not going to stop simply because someone says “you’re not allowed to do that.”

      There’s two questions here, I think. And I’ll go with the simplified version, because otherwise we’ll end up with the “but it’s a slippery slope” arguments, which I don’t really care for:
      (1) At what level of demonstrable harm does the State have the right to prevent a private citizen from partaking in a given activity associated with said harm?
      (2) Does cannabis cross that threshold?

      The other problem with this argument is that it’s been turned on it’s head: If the situation were that cannabis was presently legal, the onus of proving it should not be would be on the prohibitionists, rather than the situation we have today. In my opinion, proving there was enough harm caused by cannabis to spend millions of dollars on extra Police and associated justice system costs would be a very hard argument to make, but no one has to thanks to the current broken law.

    • Ben 5.2

      Just having a read through that first article: It looks to me as though they’re taking the “gateway drug” argument and running with it.

      Let’s say, for arguments sake, that the following statement (made in the article) is true:
      Cannabis may be responsible for 14% of UK psychotic illnesses.

      That would look statistically identical to a situation in which a high percentage of the population had smoked cannabis and some of those developed “psychotic illnesses.”

      From the look of it (and I haven’t read the study so I may be wrong), they’ve failed to prove a cause / effect relationship here. They haven’t done a double-blind test to prove that the cannabis was the problem.

      That isn’t to say there isn’t a problem, but it looks like quite the conclusion jump.

      It’s also worth noting, as they mention in the article, that psychosis affects less than 1% of the general population anyway. So if you’re increasing a 1 in 100 chance by 41%, it becomes a 1.41 in 100 chance.

  6. her 6

    The sad thing is all pain medications have toxins or are addictive except one and guess which one is illegal?

    I was reading over at http://www.legalise.org.nz/ it’s one of Americas largest crops and it’s totally unregulated and untaxed.
    The Nats don’t want to save over a billion dollars a year by being humane. Imagine if they had done it five years ago they wouldn’t have to sell the power stations.

    Smoking is bad. cookies are fattening. Herbal tea anyone?

    • Ben 6.1

      Depends: What herbs are in it? 😉

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      Imagine if they had done it five years ago they wouldn’t have to sell the power stations.

      Which is probably why they didn’t do it.

    • “The Nats don’t want to save over a billion dollars a year by being humane. Imagine if they had done it five years ago they wouldn’t have to sell the power stations.”

      Don’t blame the national party – its not like any other party has done it either

  7. Bill 7

    I’d like to be swayed by that argument, I really would. But I’ve heard the counter arguments from too many doctors about the impact of heavy pot use on health, and I’ve seen young lives damaged and held back by it…

    That’s a confusing counter argument insofar as it’s actually in line with the reproduced comment that suggests

    a more appropriate law based on harm reduction.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    If we keep regulation, we need to decide what form it should take for the future.

    The same regulation that we have with alcohol and tobacco. It’s not hard.

    • Take tobacco out of that equation because regulations are getting tougher and tougher – towards possible illegality so not a good comparison.

      “pain medications have toxins or are addictive except one”
      marijuana is toxic and can be quite addictive. I support decriminalisation but I don’t kid myself that it is a harmless substance.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        Table salt is toxic and quite addictive. But compared to alcohol and tobacco, marijuana rates almost zero.

        • McFlock 8.1.1.1

          Far too early to tell, imo. The biological mechanisms are not understood well enough, and from what I gather studies (including a NZ one) are a bit divided. It’ll need a few more larger scale studies to swing on way or t’other.
              
          If we were comparing the research progress with tobacco, I’d say we were in the early fifties – some interesting data, but pre-Doctors Study and some of the other key papers. Not saying it’ll go the same way as tobaccy, though. Hell, in 50 years it might be prescribed as a safer ADHD treatment than ritalin.

          • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1.1

            Early fifties perhaps, but our statistical models, research methodologies and computing power are a light year advanced from those days.

            Much smaller epidemiological signals can be detected faster and more reliably than the 1950’s.

            If marijuana was causing health issues a fifth the size of alcohol or tobacco…we would be all over it by now.

            • McFlock 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Not so sure about that – we also have massive confounding exposures to deal with. And then there’s the issue of mechanisms of delivery.
                    
              You forget that tobacco especially gives a large number of people at the higher quantity of usage. I’m not sure anyone here has argued that dope was as addictive as tobacco, so you have a wider usage range. Lower quantity usage = smaller effect = more difficult to detect.

    • BLiP 8.2

      The same regulation that we have with alcohol and tobacco. It’s not hard.

      I think its too late for that. The supply of marijuana has been going on largely uninterrupted in New Zealand for more than fifty years. It would be impossible now to, say, impose a tax on its sale or the registration and licensing of its suppliers. About the only thing that can be done now is down the decriminalisation path. Back off on the possession and growing charges and, say, go more for the sale angle: make it a $50 fine if you sell or buy it?? If everyone who wants to smoke dak can do so without hassle, the only people that suffer are the dealers.

    • QoT 8.3

      Boom! Exactly what I was going to say.

      “Heavy use” of anything causes harm. Treating adults like they can make decisions for themselves and providing support to those who do suffer from addiction is a hell of a better idea, to me, than just “oh but I know this one kid who …” policy-making.

  9. alex 9

    Agree with Draco, surely it would be easy enough to give marijuana the same legal status as alcohol.

  10. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 10

    As a leftie who’s all in favour of leaving people alone to get on with their lives I’d like to be swayed by that argument, I really would.

    No you wouldn’t. Because being a lefty is all about telling people what to do (for their own good, you understand). It’s the self satisfaction that I find so galling.

    • Ben 10.1

      And the right wing parties, all about individual freedoms, are really standing up for the legalise cannabis argument, eh?

      Sure, ACT have touched on it, but they won’t go anywhere near it with Banksy at the helm. The only party that I’ve seen make a serious go of changing the drug laws is the Greens.

      National had a great opportunity to do something positive (and true to their claimed ideals) when the Law Commission report came out. What happened? Fuck all. I suppose their supporters generally use Class A drugs, as they have the money to afford them, so why decriminilise weed?

      Peter Dunne is also a massive hurdle in this regard. IIRC his confidence and supply agreements with both National and Labour have included a clause effectively saying “no change to the legal status of cannabis.”

    • r0b 10.2

      No you wouldn’t. Because being a lefty is all about telling people what to do (for their own good, you understand). It’s the self satisfaction that I find so galling.

      Oh dear. It’s the self delusion that I find so galling. When it comes to control freaks the left has nothing on the right wing / conservative types. They are all about control. Controlling workers. Reducing social services that provide choices to low income earners. Locking ever more people up in ever more prisons. And especially controlling personal decisions regarding the ultimate personal choices relating to sexuality, marriage and abortion.

      Give me a leftie any day thanks.

  11. freedom 11

    1: marijuana is a natural plant not a drug
    2: it was only made illegal to criminalize its cousin Hemp
    3: Hemp and its derivitives can replace almost all petrochemical products, building products and most textile products by being a more economicaly stable environmentally safe and earth friendly resource. It also is a vast reservoir of medicinal miracles that the world is kept from.

    Since most of the decisions regarding the criminalization of marijuana occurred pre 1935 there are scarce resources to prove how the game was played apart from the explosion of newspaper articles and the infamous associated media myths like Reefer Madness, which all came from the Randolph Hearst owned publishing empire in the 1930’s. An industry which in association with chemical giants Dupont, and others, had developed a new wood pulp processing system to create paper. Processes that consumed vast amounts of resources for very little result but yielded very high profits for those owning the companies. For rolls of paper and miles of rope the motive was simple. An industry built of greed flat out lied about Marijuana and by doing so created a storm of hysteria that facilitated the global destruction of one of the world’s oldest and most stable Industries, Hemp.

    Remember that up till that time Hemp was a well protected highly subsidized crop in US agriculture, and elsewhere. Over 90% of the world’s textile industry was Hemp based. The declaration of Independence for example is written on Hemp. Trust that gnawing feeling in your gut telling you that companies like Dupont and Hearst Industries hardly had the well being of the planet in mind when lobbying for the removal of Hemp as an agricultural staple in the global economy. The threat was not only from the low cost high yield environmentally friendly textile, paper, and building applications of Hemp. The explosion of technologies and industrial processes being developed post WW1 were also showing enormous potential in Hemp by-products as a fuel, a source for plastics and numerous other applications.

    Transforming marijuana from an innocuous herb that had been used globally for thousands and thousands of years into the psychosis-forming axewielding mania-inducing demon-child that exists today is simply one of the best examples of social manipulation being supported by the strength of ignorance and propoganda. It was always about destroying the future and by proxy, the history of Hemp.

  12. “marijuana is a natural plant not a drug”

    Does that go the same for tobacco and opium?

    • freedom 12.1

      plain leaf tobacco is a plant,
      opium is a refined byproduct of the Poppy sap.

      • TheContrarian 12.1.1

        “opium is a refined byproduct of the Poppy sap.”

        So, if opium is a drug because it is refined then Hash is too?
        Poppies themselves can get you high without refinement.

        • freedom 12.1.1.1

          Hashish is title for a menagerie of substances but in its most basic form yes, hashish is a drug. Any plant that has been altered from a cycle of growth/harvest could be called a drug, but in general the processing of a substance away from its naturaly occurringl presentation can be called a drug.

          and as for the unrefined poppy, i gather you are referring to the seeds, and they are , funnily enough, called poppy seeds, not opium seeds or heroin seeds. BTW generally ingesting any raw poppy material is dangerous as the lack of control over the quantity of ingested toxins may well kill you or leave you a gibbering wreck chasing dragons along Dominion Road

  13. captain hook 13

    re tobacco and opium.
    nobody ever died from an overdose of marijuana.

    • Whether someone died or not is actually irrelevant.
      Freedom suggests that because Marijuana is a plant it some how shouldn’t be classed as a drug. If that is true then I want to know if he thinks the same of other plants in which a psychoactive drug is present.

      • freedom 13.1.1

        The psychoactive properties in THC are admitted by numerous experts to be relevant only to those with pre-existing conditions, and then it is strongly debated if teh THC actually ever plays a part in the progression of the illness or is merely a bystander watching the incident. The common offenders in these circumstances are abnormal brain chemistries, and/or those who are victim to known social and behavourial environments that foster mental instability. Alcohol is by far the most causative common element for mental instability when no pre-exisiting condition can be identified.

        To my knowledge there is not one recorded case of a human being being made psychotic or unduly affected by marijuana that is not attributable to a plethora of pre-existing conditions or abuse of other substances.

  14. Adele 14

    Contrarian

    Tobacco was cultivated by native american peoples as a healing plant. They are appalled at what has happened to their plant under the machinations of industry. Morphine is a derivative of Opium and it can be said that most medicines began their lives as plants.

    Its not the plants that are at fault – its how we distort their beneficial effects to accommodate the profit motive that is causing the deleterious effects on the susceptible.

    • See my comment above. I know it isn’t the plants fault at all. But you can’t call “marijuana a natural plant and not a drug” but treat poppies or tobacco as drugs.

  15. felix 15

    Jesus, you all sound like Bob Loblaw.

    How you get high is nobody else’s fucking business and the law should reflect that simple truth.

    • freedom 15.1

      can i get an AMEN

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 15.1.1

        Amen (and even if they get high on gambling).

        • freedom 15.1.1.1

          “even if they get high on gambling”
          Gormy, i think that is a fair example of the self explanatory ‘all things in moderation’ meme that humanity has understood for millenia, yet acts upon with confusing selectivity.

  16. Colonial Viper 16

    Small scale marijuana use should be decriminalised and the industry substantially regulated. Time to take the money out of this trade.

  17. McFlock 17

    If marijuana is fine, why are most marijuana activists such a bunch of freaks? 
           
    The 420 crowd on the union lawn when I was on campus were the biggest bunch of nutbars and hygienically-challenged zombies that one could have the misfortune of being downwind of.  
         

    • freedom 17.1

      If alcohol is fine, why are most of its proponents raised to believe the more out of your skull you can get the more celebrated your position in a social group will become?

      The cornucopia of social clubs that i cleaned up after trying to afford to get a tertiary education were the most disrespectful selfish ignorant behaviorally offensive and violent bunch of vandalistic criminals one could have the misfortune of being attacked by.

      sorry, what was your point McFlock ?

    • fatty 17.2

      McFlock…the hegemonic discourse that has been created around the marijuana issue has led you to your misguided view. The people who aren’t ‘nutbars'(?), that want a logical law to be introduced are unable to voice their opinion because of the Fox News filth which you have just blessed us with.
      All 420/pro weed events are tainted with a simplistic brush of ignorance by our media…believe it if you want to follow the crowd. Is that why you go by the name McFlock?
      What exactly makes them freaks? Is it cause they don’t shop at hallensteins or glassons for their clothes? It can’t be dreadlocks and tattoos, cause half the All Blacks possess them now. Is it piercings in places other than earlobes?
      You might want to expand on your comment…then again, expanding one’s ignorance is ill-advised.

      • McFlock 17.2.1
         
         

        Nope. Not hegemonic discourse.
        Seeing them on the union lawn – the only good thing about them smoking up was that it partially distracted one from their BO.
          
        Reading their accounts of “police brutality” at 420 “protests”, and seeing how disparate they were from the actual events.
           
        Even the student rag had to correct their denials that schoolkids smoked up with them – having a “protest” outside the newspaper’s office gave the media a great view of kids in school uniform smoking up with the “protestors”.
           
        Reading that the hippies actually believed that if the dope was sold via vending machine then nobody could be charged.
                
        What a bunch of tools. At least the other protestors had a bit of diversity in them.

         
    • felix 17.3

      Aren’t most activists for anything a bunch of freaks though?

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrel 17.3.1

        Amen.

      • McFlock 17.3.2

        Maybe some of the leadership.
        But a decent protest of a couple of hundred people normally has a bit more diversity than the 420 crowd.

        • felix 17.3.2.1

          Know what you mean. I don’t think the legalize it crew do their cause much good by being part of it tbh.

  18. fatty 18

    If only there was a multinational corporation that would be willing to provide us with a capitalist friendly weed product.
    Maybe if another ingredient was added that would make the user more likely to beat the shit out of their loved ones…that’s ethical, right?
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/columnists/5518596/Devils-luck-for-liquor-lords

  19. captain hook 19

    Mcflick doesnt have a point.
    he just another kiwi who thinks he knows what is best for everyone else and if they dont like that them put them in jail
    oh aND THEN COMPLAIN ABOUT THE CORRECTIONS BUDGET.
    ooops.

    • McFlock 19.1
       
       

      Nope.
      Actually I agree with the concept of having mj, tobacco and alcohol all r18 and heavily regulated.
           
      My point was that decriminalisation’s most prominent advocates are also its most alienating factor. Not that I particularly give a shit, but those paranoid freaks made life quite difficult for people just trying to do their jobs around campus – including accusing random people of being “fucking narcs” simply because the person had the unmitigated gall to have a coffee in the sun and text her friends.
          
      Let me be clear – my criticism of mj “activists” is through direct contact with one of the more active groups in the country, and the fact that the other groups seem to be similarly homogenous. I am not criticising the less visible regular users, apart from the fact that they seem to be remarkably scarce at protests on an issue that affects them directly.
       

       
  20. Uturn 20

    If marijuana is so bad, then why is everything so funny all of a sudden?

  21. vto 21

    Very timely debate given the harvest moon has just been. Mine 2c says it should not be a crime, but it should not be encouraged. Just like tobacco and alcohol. So how does one not encourage, as a society, something which is acknowledged as used and unstoppable, but which over-use of is really not too helpful for society? Well I reckon it is a bit like speeding… so ou get a ticket for some sort of overt use or something … Doesn’t South Australia do something like that?

    Anyways, not a crime but not to be had for breakfast. Just like beer …

  22. vto 22

    Excellent. Stout on porridge is always a good start to the day.

  23. Campbell Larsen 23

    I don’t have too much to add – there have been some excellent comments – I just want to touch on the role of Judges and discretion in sentencing.

    The sentences that Judges hand down are principally a reflection of the Law, a barometer of public sentiment to a degree, and also a reflection of the degree of harm caused to society. Judges are the give in the system – and as can been seen with lessor sentences being handed down for small scale cannabis possession the tendency had been towards avoiding needlessly criminalizing people.

    The ‘harm’ that results from the conviction -in terms of lost job opportunities etc – outweighs the ‘harm’ caused to society by the infringement.

    This process of the Judiciary tending towards a harm minimization approach establishes precedent which in turn can inform law-making. This does not supersede the role of parliament, it is complimentary to it.

    Police ‘discretion’ does not achieve this.

    Police discretion allows penalties to continue to be severe in Law, but not in practice, thus halting a natural reform of an out dated law. Full enforcement of the letter of the law would so clog up the Justice system with people who are actually no threat to society that it is simply unworkable.

    This is a reflection of just how many people in New Zealand are occasional or regular Cannabis users. Say conservatively that this figure is 25%. The issues associated with criminalizing such large swathes of the population are should be obvious – the war on drugs becomes in effect a war on society. The authorities have the excuse and power to enter properties and detain citizens, track their movements, monitor their conversations, even seize their assets. It is no wonder the Police don’t want to surrender this power.

    But surrender it they must. They should not stand in the way of Cannabis law reform and neither should National. The Law Society’s recommendations are hardly radical and are a good step in the right direction. The aggressive approach preferred by the Police and the Nats is both revealing and disappointing. Do they really think that problems can be solved by attempting to crush them? We are talking about people here, let’s have no more talk of ‘war’ or being ‘tough’ – let’s try using some common sense instead.

  24. millsy 24

    Pot’s a nasty substance. I have been around people who use it from time to time, and from what I see, it more or less turns people into vegetables, plus the smell is sickly and tends to cling to you in a way that no other smell does — kinda like a sticky film, thank god Im not a partaker. But I’m not really in support of the police breaking down the door of a bunch of guys sitting around having a cone on a Friday night. That’s how I see it. Especially if someone can go down the road to Mitre 10, buy a pot of glue and legally sniff their way to a magical mystery tour.

    In saying that, I wouldnt have the stuff out and out legalised — the last thing I want to see is the tobacco companies entering the marijuana business (and they will do). Allowing people to grow and posses their own dope for personal use but forbidding commercial sales sounds like a winner to me. Then we can focus on getting people treated for their addiction to whatever, and lets face it, it should be a health issue, not a law and order, or even morality issue.

  25. QoT 25

    Alcohol’s a nasty substance. I have been around people who use it from time to time, and from what I see, it more or less turns people into grumpy misanthropes, plus the smell is sickly and tends to tickle your gag reflex in a way that no other smell does — kinda like a rotting Chelsea bun, thank god Im not a partaker.

    Tobacco’s a nasty substance. I have been around people who use it from time to time, and from what I see, it more or less turns people into twitchy nightmares, plus the smell is nauseating and tends to cling to you in a way that no other smell does — kinda like an uncleaned fireplace, thank god Im not a partaker.

    Coca-Cola’s a nasty substance. I have been around people who use it from time to time, and from what I see, it more or less turns people into hyperactive loons, plus the smell is sickly and tends to cling to you in a way that no other smell does — kinda like a molasses explosion, thank god Im not a partaker.

    Mmm, judgmentalism.

    • QoT 25.1

      Dammit, reply function failed me.

      • lprent 25.1.1

        2 weeks until we ship for testing. Fortuitously the hitech awards will be on to provide the relaxation (at frigging skycity’s current convention centre – nearly decided to be antisocial).

        Then I’ll have some time.

    • millsy 25.2

      The second time you got the wrong end of the stick there Your Majesty.

      You know you can be anti-drugs and support their decrimialisation.

      • QoT 25.2.1

        Gosh, really? I had no idea! Or maybe I was more poking fun at anyone presuming to act like pot, alone of all the various things humans willingly ingest to play games with their brain chemistry, gets you wasted and smells bad.

  26. Jenny 26

    With Banks in the poo

    This is Don Brash’s chance to seize back the leadership from Banks and run with this issue as the ACT candidate for the blue rinse seat of Epsom.

    Talk about laugh!

    Don could borrow Rodney’s yellow jacket and stick on a red nose to boot.

    The comedic value of ACT, it’s almost worth keeping them around.

    • Colonial Viper 26.1

      Yes, almost.

    • Jenny 26.2

      With the yellow jacket and the balding pate and a red nose, all Don Brash would need would be the oversize shoes.

      And Don would be suitably dressed to be anointed by John Key at another mad ACTers tea party in Epsom.

      Oh, and I almost forgot. A spinning bow tie wouldn’t look out of place either. To top it all off a great big spliff so Don could blow smoke in the face of any reporter who got too near with a microphone.

  27. Jenny 27

    The strongest reason yet for not decriminalising pot;

    LEGEND

    • Jenny 27.1

      Is Don Brash still a member of ACT?

      He wasn’t before when he was leader, so I don’t think it would be a problem now.

      What a comedic troupe, you don’t even have to be stoned to enjoy this show.

    • fender 27.2

      One way to give a good cause a bad name!

      Although, it could be used as a warning: If you don’t want to be like this in your later years, expand your thoughts with a little pot once in a while.

  28. freedom 28

    here is some news from Havard University that some here may find of interest
    http://current.com/1r1vm4c

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    Point of OrderBy xtrdnry
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  • After The Deluge.
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  • Minister of Education (who might be replaced later today) left it to his ministry to apologise for i...
    Buzz from the Beehive There has been plenty to keep the relevant Ministers busy in flood-stricken Auckland over the past day or two. But New Zealand, last time we looked, extends north of Auckland into Northland and south of the Bombay Hills all the way to the bottom of the ...
    Point of OrderBy Bob Edlin
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  • The other ‘big one’: How a megaflood could swamp California’s Central Valley
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jeff Masters When early settlers came to the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers before the California Gold Rush, Indigenous people warned them that the Sacramento Valley could become an inland sea when great winter rains came. The storytellers described water filling the ...
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  • Tuesday's pick o' the links: Wayne Brown's WTF moment
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    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
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    Wayne Brown managed a smile when meeting with Remuera residents, but he was grumpy about having to deal with “media drongos”. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty ImagesTLDR: In my pick of the news links found in my rounds since 4am for paying subscribers below the paywall:Wayne Brown moans about the media and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
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  • Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The gamechanger PM and polls
    Dr Bryce Edwards writes –  Last night’s opinion polls answered the big question of whether a switch of prime minister would really be a gamechanger for election year. The 1News and Newshub polls released at 6pm gave the same response: the shift from Jacinda Ardern to Chris Hipkins ...
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  • Dawn Chorus: Why 2023 will be a year of indecision & delay
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    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
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  • Dawn Chorus: Why 2023 will be a year of indecision & delay
    Hipkins’ aim this year will be to present a ‘low target’ for those seeking to attack Labour’s policies and spending. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty ImagesTLDR: Anyone dealing with Government departments and councils who wants some sort of big or long-term decision out of officials or politicians this year should brace for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Bryce Edwards: The Gamechanger PM and polls
    Last night’s opinion polls answered the big question of whether a switch of prime minister would really be a gamechanger for election year. The 1News and Newshub polls released at 6pm gave the same response: the shift from Jacinda Ardern to Chris Hipkins has changed everything, and Labour is back ...
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  • After the deluge – initial thoughts on the Auckland floods
    Over the last few years, it’s seemed like city after city around the world has become subject to extreme flooding events that have been made worse by impacts from climate change. We’ve highlighted many of them in our Weekly Roundup series. Sadly, over the last few days it’s been Auckland’s ...
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  • Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated?
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  • Ani O’Brien: Luxon can’t afford to continue ‘small target’ politics
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  • Shaking up science
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    PolitikBy Richard Harman
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  • Dusk Chorus: Auckland schools closed til Feb 7
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    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
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  • Dusk Chorus: Auckland schools closed til Feb 7
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    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
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  • How we get a new Prime Minister – it’s a simple matter of vice-regal appointment without a swear...
    The news media were at one ceremony by the looks of things. The Governor-General, the  Prime Minister and his deputy were at another. The news  media were at a swearing-in ceremony. The country’s leaders were at an appointment ceremony. The New Zealand Gazette record of what transpired says: Appointment of ...
    Point of OrderBy Bob Edlin
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  • Advancing our relationship in India
    Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta departs for India tomorrow as she continues to reconnect Aotearoa New Zealand to the world.  The visit will begin in New Delhi where the Foreign Minister will meet with the Vice President Hon Jagdeep Dhankar and her Indian Government counterparts, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and ...
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    9 hours ago
  • Government Northland housing investment to spark transformational change
    Over $10 million infrastructure funding to unlock housing in Whangārei The purchase of a 3.279 hectare site in Kerikeri to enable 56 new homes Northland becomes eligible for $100 million scheme for affordable rentals Multiple Northland communities will benefit from multiple Government housing investments, delivering thousands of new homes for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Battle of Ohaeawai remembered
    A memorial event at a key battle site in the New Zealand land wars is an important event to mark the progress in relations between Māori and the Crown as we head towards Waitangi Day, Minister for Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis said. The Battle of Ohaeawai in June 1845 saw ...
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  • More Police deployed to the frontline
    More Police officers are being deployed to the frontline with the graduation of 54 new constables from the Royal New Zealand Police College today. The graduation ceremony for Recruit Wing 362 at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua was the first official event for Stuart Nash since his reappointment as Police ...
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  • Further support for upper North Island regions hit by significant weather
    The Government is unlocking an additional $700,000 in support for regions that have been badly hit by the recent flooding and storm damage in the upper North Island. “We’re supporting the response and recovery of Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel, Northland, and Bay of Plenty regions, through activating Enhanced Taskforce Green to ...
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  • The Princess Royal to visit New Zealand
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has welcomed the announcement that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, will visit New Zealand this month. “Princess Anne is travelling to Aotearoa at the request of the NZ Army’s Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals, of which she is Colonel in Chief, to ...
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  • Government and horticulture sector target $12b in exports by 2035
    A new Government and industry strategy launched today has its sights on growing the value of New Zealand’s horticultural production to $12 billion by 2035, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said. “Our food and fibre exports are vital to New Zealand’s economic security. We’re focussed on long-term strategies that build on ...
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    4 days ago
  • Cost of living support extended for families and businesses
    25 cents per litre petrol excise duty cut extended to 30 June 2023 – reducing an average 60 litre tank of petrol by $17.25 Road User Charge discount will be re-introduced and continue through until 30 June Half price public transport fares extended to the end of June 2023 saving ...
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    4 days ago
  • More Kiwis in work as rising wages match inflation
    The strong economy has attracted more people into the workforce, with a record number of New Zealanders in paid work and wages rising to help with cost of living pressures. “The Government’s economic plan is delivering on more better-paid jobs, growing wages and creating more opportunities for more New Zealanders,” ...
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  • Government boosts fund for Auckland flooding
    The Government is providing a further $1 million to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced today. “Cabinet today agreed that, given the severity of the event, a further $1 million contribution be made. Cabinet wishes to be proactive ...
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  • New Cabinet focused on bread and butter issues
    The new Cabinet will be focused on core bread and butter issues like the cost of living, education, health, housing and keeping communities and businesses safe, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has announced. “We need a greater focus on what’s in front of New Zealanders right now. The new Cabinet line ...
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  • Prime Minister to meet with PM Albanese
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will travel to Canberra next week for an in person meeting with Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. “The trans-Tasman relationship is New Zealand’s closest and most important, and it was crucial to me that my first overseas trip as Prime Minister was to Australia,” Chris Hipkins ...
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  • Government makes first payment to Auckland Flooding fund
    The Government is providing establishment funding of $100,000 to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced. “We moved quickly to make available this funding to support Aucklanders while the full extent of the damage is being assessed,” Kieran McAnulty ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government steps up to assist Auckland during flooding
    As the Mayor of Auckland has announced a state of emergency, the Government, through NEMA, is able to step up support for those affected by flooding in Auckland. “I’d urge people to follow the advice of authorities and check Auckland Emergency Management for the latest information. As always, the Government ...
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  • Poroporoaki: Titewhai Te Huia Hinewhare Harawira
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Enhanced Task Force Green Approved following Cyclone Hale
    Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development and Employment, has activated Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG) in response to flooding and damaged caused by Cyclone Hale in the Tairāwhiti region. Up to $500,000 will be made available to employ job seekers to support the clean-up. We are still investigating whether other parts ...
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  • General Election to be held on 14 October 2023
    The 2023 General Election will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “Announcing the election date early in the year provides New Zealanders with certainty and has become the practice of this Government and the previous one, and I believe is best practice,” Jacinda ...
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  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces resignation
    Jacinda Ardern has announced she will step down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party. Her resignation will take effect on the appointment of a new Prime Minister. A caucus vote to elect a new Party Leader will occur in 3 days’ time on Sunday the 22nd of ...
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    2 weeks ago