- Date published:
1:32 pm, March 3rd, 2017 - 25 comments
Categories: democratic participation, drugs, political parties, Politics, social democracy, Social issues - Tags: cannabis, democratic participation, TOPS
Direct democracy doesn’t mean a referendum, nor does it mean consensus. It can take a number of forms depending on the issue.
That’s something I could, and have written in discussions about democracy here on ‘the standard’. And of course, it’s a million blue miles away from what any political party is talking about when they bandy the term ‘democracy’ about. Or at least it was until now.
The quoted bit of text comes from The Opportunities Party. It seems they’re making an honest bash at injecting some form of direct democracy into their decision making processes around policy. Will it be problematic? Probably. Will mistakes be made and will tuning, both fine and more coarse, have to be made to make direct input an effective tool of policy formation? Probably.
But it’s a start and a direction of travel that ought to be lauded and encouraged. Straight off the bat, my concerns are that the framework they’ve set in place invites an obvious degeneration to a position of democratic centralism – ie, an authoritarian system of decision making.
Bearing that in mind, I had a look at their attempt to formulate a member driven Cannabis Law Reform policy. It’s fairly comprehensive and asking for considered feed-back. As well as the usual ‘tick box’ preferences, it asks why a particular option is prefered and there’s a fair amount of cross referencing embedded within the questionnaire template. I’m sorry I can’t link to it. It appears you have to have registered an interest in the party to access it. But here’s a partial reproduction.
What do you think appropriate penalties for cannabis use are (if any)?* (Six graded options and a box to explain why you have ticked the option or options you have – an explanatory panel)
What do you think appropriate penalties for small-scale cannabis production are (if any)?* (Seven graded options and an explanatory panel)
What do you think appropriate penalties for cannabis production at scale are (if any)?* ( Four graded options and an explanatory panel)
If production is legal, who sets standards and checks growers and manufacturers are abiding by the law? Who can produce, under what conditions, where?* (No options. An explanatory panel)
Distribution and Sale
What do you think appropriate penalties for cannabis sale are (if any)? (Four options and explanatory panel)
If legal, how would you manage distribution – advertising, licensing and placement of outlets, online, labeling, dispensary with trained staff, eg pharmacy?* (Explanatory panel)
Criminal Justice System
What do you see as the likely impacts on the criminal justice system from your proposal? How much criminal justice resource would be freed up and what are the likely benefits of that? Or if extra resources will be needed, how would you fund that? What is the likely impact of your proposal on criminals and gangs?* (Explanatory panel)
What do you see as the likely impacts on the taxation revenue from your proposal? What would you spend any revenue raised on?* (Explanatory panel)
What do you see as the likely impacts on creating a cannabis growing/ export industry (over and above hemp which can already be grown under strict controls)* (Explanatory panel)
How would you manage mental health risks – addiction and use by young people (risk of triggering psychosis), and if relevant how should this be paid for? (Explanatory Panel)
How would you manage use? (user registration, price, quantity, e.g. number of plants people can grow each?) And quality (e.g. for strength, pesticides, mould etc). How should this be paid for? (explanatory panel)
What services do you think should be available to those that need treatment and how should this be paid for?* (explanatory panel)
Up until now, I’ve been keeping a quiet eye on TOPS and like others, wondering at the lack of discussion here or elsewhere. Now I’m thinking it’s time I paid more serious attention to them and spent some time reading through their literature properly, because what they’re attempting looks to be streets ahead in terms of empowerment and flexibility in relation to any other political party’s policy formation process I’ve encountered.