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Highs, legal or otherwise

Written By: - Date published: 5:43 pm, April 28th, 2014 - 68 comments
Categories: drugs, law - Tags: , , ,

From the outset, let me say that I don’t have much of a stake in the questions of recreational drugs; legal or otherwise. I’m not a user. I drink alcohol usually moderately and usually pretty expensively (I like microbrewery IPAs). I’ve smoked pot once three decades ago, and didn’t like the effect on my coding for the following two days. So I have never smoked or ingested it since. Like so many of my generation, I used to smoke about 30 cigarettes a week but finally had to give them up for health reasons.

However I agree wholeheartedly with Tim Watkin’s description of the silliness of the previous regime of prohibition and the new regime of control. “Legal highs leave MPs dazed & confused“.

Less than a year ago MPs voted 119-1 in favour of the Psychoactive Substances Act, creating a regulated market for approved synthetic drugs. (The only vote against was from John Banks, who didn’t oppose a regulated market approach, but merely the fact the new drugs could be tested on animals). It was a controversial move for parliament to endorse a legal drug market in New Zealand; previously the drugs had been legal, but only because they were new creations that got around existing laws.

For more than a century, our politicians have maintained a prohibition on mind-altering substances (alcohol being the obvious exception) as a way of expressing social disapproval and protecting people from themselves. New Zealanders have tended to respond by not taking those laws terribly seriously; a large proportion of New Zealanders have used marijuana, for example, by international standards. Yet at the same time there has been no public appetite for decriminalisation, so politicians have maintained the bans.

Now that is something I can testify to. The laws were completely ignored by many people in my extended family, and by most people that I knew. Most of them didn’t have my addiction to programming and happily puffed away wherever and whenever they felt like it. It wasn’t seen as being anything except as a sop to more conservative in our society, and something that would hopefully disappear over time.

Then, last year, they took a new approach. New chemical compounds not covered by any laws were being used widely and attempts to ban the products were not stopping their use. Every time the government added a product to the banned list, a new one was invented by the legal high chemists. What’s more, the MPs accepted the argument that to ban legal highs was to simply drive customers from legal retailers to the black market.

They decided to try something different.

But they butchered the process along the way. The new law banned almost all the legal highs available, leaving for sale just the 41 considered to carry the lowest risk. The Ministry of Health was to devise a testing regime which determined an acceptable safety threshold for any new drugs created. That regime was slated to be introduced in early-mid 2015. Long story short, that was far too long to expect the public to wait and pressure has built to the point where the government was caught on the wrong side of strong public opinion. Just five months from an election, that couldn’t stand.

And that is the key to this stupid mess. To take a couple of years to devise a testing regime for testing drugs in humans is (to put it mildly) outright farcical. This is something that drugs companies and governments have been doing for decades and for which there is a hell of a lot of accumulated knowledge. It doesn’t even have to be fully valid on the first pass. Initially, pulling an overseas standard off the shelf like the ones that are used on my medical drugs would have been sufficient.

The test should have been similar to that applied to alcohol. We want to quality control how it is produced so we don’t wind up with nasty additives like methanol. It isn’t inherently bad in moderation, but we accept that people can over-indulge, and as a society we tax for prevention and bottom-of-the-cliff programmes as well as a disincentive to over-indulge.

Bearing in mind that prior to the Psychoactive Substances Act there appeared to be a complete lack of testing on “legal highs” except on recipient humans, then anything would have been better, even a temporary standard.  As new standards were developed based on programmes to systematically get statistically significiant data at emergency rooms and other medical facilities (something that still hasn’t been done!), then new standards could have been formulated. All that would have been required is that the sellers of such substances would require recertification under the latest current standards periodically, and that their production would have been subject to random checks to ensure that they were in fact producing what they were certified for.

But all of these substances should have been pulled from the shelves until the testing was done. While I’m sure that the black market would have still been there supplying the remaining demand. But who really cares? Most people would have gone back to the illegal tinny houses that are scattered everywhere around the country to buy their old stand-by – marijuana. Hell I see one every time I visit my parents. It isn’t like they are particularly hard to find, and there are a damn sight more than 150 of them throughout the country. And those with green thumbs would have just continued grown their own.

What we would have be spared is the haphazard banning, concentration of supply, and legal challenges that this poorly written legislation left the country wide-open to. All that was bound to do was to produce a public hysteria in an election year with the inevitable results.

Here’s what’s most likely to have happened: The number of shops selling legal highs has reduced from over 3000 to just over 150. The number of sales has concentrated to just a few areas and therefore those sales have become much more visible. Hence the queues down the street in Palmerston North and elsewhere that have so shocked public sensibilities.

But is that a sign that demand has grown? Or that addiction rates are higher?

No, it’s a sign that the law is doing exactly what it was meant to do – drive the sale of drugs out of the dark and into the light. A regulated market had been created at a few approved shops, police knew exactly where the sales were taking place and a small marketplace had been created, as per the will of parliament.

Is there any evidence of increased sales? No. Of any greater harm? No. Perhaps the opposite in fact.

I’d take a bet that if we reduced the number of liquor outlets down to even 3000 country wide, then we’d have seen frigging queues outside them as well. In fact when I was working as a underage barman back in the 1970s I often saw queues forming at the bottle store around closing time. There were a hell of a lot more pubs and bottle stores than 3000 even then.

Quite simply there is a simple way out of this farcical muddle that the idiots in Wellington have gotten themselves into. Personally I wouldn’t trust any of the synthetic drugs. The potential for disaster always lurks inside any chemical manufacturing processes. If anyone cares to look at what happens with medical drugs, they’d find that a hell of a lot of the testing cost is simply to get the processes to produce it nailed down.

But we already have a substance around that has had decades of testing in this country on the target animal that I know of. Marijuana/cannabis savita  is a massively well-tested drug just waiting to be made a “legal high”. We should just treat it like alcohol, regulate its production, tax and regulate its supply, and monitor the effects statistically and systematically. Sure we’re going to get people who over-indulge just as they do now with both illegal marijuana and legal alcohol. But at least they will wind up paying for their care – something that we taxpayers are doing right now.

It isn’t like we’d be alone. Even the crazy mish-mash that constitutes US law (which is here the strange ban on cannabis savita originated in the first place) are finally bowing to inevitable.

Frankly after decades of seeing people close to me using pot, I can’t see any real problems with it if people use it in moderation. Sure I have seen other people with problems with excessive indulgence. But hey, I’ve helped neighbours who have subsequently died from alcoholism as well. There is simply no way to definitively and fully protect everyone from themselves.

What we can do is to ensure that they have the support when and if they decide to try and beat whatever addiction – that means taxes.The best taxes in this case are consumption taxes in exactly the same way that we tax alcohol and tobacco for the damage that they can cause. In the meantime we need to make sure that whatever they’re using is as safe as it can be. That means complete regulation over the production.

What we don’t need is fools in government and the rest of parliament pissing about looking for a testing standard that they can pick off any pharmaceutical law or regulation that is already in existence. To have them pussy-footing around avoiding simply decriminalising cannabis, which would almost kill the whole legal high market anyway, certainly just wanders you into a kafkaesque farce

See also:-

68 comments on “Highs, legal or otherwise”

  1. lprent 1

    I’d advise that the first person who makes this a party political issue on this post will receive a permanent ban.

    Read the post and you’ll notice that I went to extreme lengths to not make it partisan. It is a failure of all of our politicians (except for the weak excuse of John Banks) that this issue predictably got regurgitated

    BTW: I have a lot of prizes of this type to issue. So step right up if you want to receive one.

    • as one who has criticised john banks long and hard..since forever..

      ..i now find i have to show him the respect due the only politician to vote against this clusterfuck-legal-high legislation…

      (..shall we call it ‘dunnes’-folly’…?..but not only dunne..eh..?..)

      ..and for the highest motives..

      ..for his revulsion at the testing of this crap on animals/dogs…

      ..(including overdosing ’till death..)

      ..something every other mp voted to have happen…

      ..i’m sure that’ll look good on their c.v’s/permanent-record..

  2. Ant 2

    I’m personally apprehensive about legalising pot until we make more of an effort on eliminating or at the very least alleviating poverty in this country, like alcohol, poverty and pot is a lethal mix, giving it more of a foothold will steamroll some communities.

    I approach it from the view that at the moment we can’t legislate primarily for the “responsible” middle classes (or whatever). I’m with Hone Harawira on this one when he recounts his personal stance based on what happens in the far north. (that’s not party political is it?)

    • weka 2.1

      “like alcohol, poverty and pot is a lethal mix”

      Do you meant that literally? Can you please give some examples?

      • Ant 2.1.1

        I mean that when weed is abundant and you add a lot of the negatives that come with poverty, unemployment, societal disengagement, loss of hope and so on that mix it can be devastating, things have gone from bad to worse.

        Alcohol and Tobacco are already regulated through supply and price but still do a lot of damage on the fringes, but in some communities weed is more plentiful and next to free which would be much harder to regulate.

        A question I can’t answer would be whether legalisation would actually increase use in vulnerable communities or are these communities already saturated?

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          devastating how? I get the issues around poverty, I’m just not sure specifically what you mean. eg you mean peopel spending their money of drugs instead of other important things? Or people sitting round stoned and unmotivated all day? etc The people I know who are poor find cannabis a boon, not devastating. I’m sure there are other experiences too but I’m not sure we can just point to alcohol and cigarettes and say cannabis will be the same.

          • Ant 2.1.1.1.1

            Pretty much as you describe, like you I know a lot of people that although poor do perfectly fine with pot, but then I also know just as many people who have been turned into zombies (figuratively of course).

            My position is really one of ambivalence, it is mostly communities at the fringes that bear the majority of the ill effects for the usual suspects like pokies, booze, smokes, and now legal highs because the people making money off these things are adept at both targeting and taking advantage of those communities. Generally society lets them get away with it for far too long and since they aren’t ‘mainstream’ or ‘middle’ or whatever the current in vogue term is it’s generally ages before anyone bothers to notice or do anything about the damage wrought.

        • I think your comments contradict themselves, Ant. Like you say, weed is already abundant in many parts of NZ, including many poorer parts. The mixing of poverty and pot is already happening. I think legalisation, regulation and re-focusing our resources to managing the health issues would be much more practical than waiting for poverty to be fixed.

          I’m reminded of a comment I saw when the BestStart package was announced – someone from the Maxim Institute saying she disagreed with the payments for newborns, but ‘maybe we could consider it once there’s less poverty.’ It’s a nice circular argument, but the end result is that we don’t do things which would materially improve the lives of poor people.

        • framu 2.1.1.3

          “A question I can’t answer would be whether legalisation would actually increase use in vulnerable communities or are these communities already saturated?”

          your whole argument is based on you already knowing the answer to this question

          • Ant 2.1.1.3.1

            It probably needed a “some” in there, typing while watching Game of Thrones… What I mean is weed is abundant in some places but not all places, in the places where it is abundant it can do a lot of damage which I have witnessed first hand. Extending that to all places potentially spreads and adds additional problems to people already under a lot of pressure. That bit you quoted is essentially a question on whether it is as bad as it can get in some places.

            I don’t believe for a second that treating it as a health issue will help vulnerable communities unless there is a dramatic change in how NZ is run. But as CV said decriminalisation as a step will help some people stay out of the criminal justice system but once they get to that point it’s often ambulance at the bottom of the cliff territory and a drug related conviction sits along side a number of other minor offences.

            As it stands we struggle to deliver the more regular variety of health services to lot of people, trying to administer often more complex and long term addiction and rehabilitation services when the bread and butter stuff is still lacking is lala land stuff.

            • Marius 2.1.1.3.1.1

              smoking dope in poverty > Game of Thrones

            • framu 2.1.1.3.1.2

              fair enough

              your points down thread re: other measures are good too

              but i think were kidding ourselves if were going to pretend that pot and its down side arent already there to begin with – anywhere in nz.

              making people criminals to boot wont fix anything – so the point there is to treat it as a health issue instead of a criminal issue, so we can then address the other issues – we cant fix anything else untill we stop making people criminals in the first place

              the thing i see that would help areas like nthland is similar to whats happened in certain parts of the states
              – legal manufacturing, = jobs

    • Colonial Viper 2.2

      I would respond with some balance by saying that having many thousands less young people enter our criminal justice/corrections system – and these are kids who are often from poorer non-pakeha families – because of pot is a major major upside for the very communities you are talking about.

    • lprent 2.3

      Problem is that pot is ubiquitous out in not only in the moderately affluent people that I sometimes mix with (I’m pretty anti-social), but also amongst those in poverty who I used to mix with decades ago and still occasionally do today.

      Having it unregulated causes as many if not more problems than having it unregulated. For a starter it makes treating people for full-blown severe addictions several orders of magnitude harder. That is especially the case in small communities.

      I saw a press release (ummm here) from Rural Women

      However Rural Women NZ says the withdrawal of supply from shops must be coupled with more resources in rural areas for those suffering from the effects of drug addiction, and their families.

      “There is real concern in rural communities about the lack of access to specialist services,” says Rural Women NZ health spokesperson, Margaret Pittaway.

      “Distance to treatment services and support for families can be a real barrier to getting the help required to overcome addiction, or deal with its results.”

      What I was incredulous about was this statement:-

      “Children, partners and the family budget are all affected by drug use, and the control of supply is a known way of minimising harm.”

      Back in the 70’s my parents brought a 90 acre block with partial bush north of Auckland. The sight of stoned possums falling out of the bush in daylight was how we located and killed the locals putting small plantations in our bush. I spent a year as a labourer on farms around the North Island and I’d have to say that there was more pot around in rural communities than I found when I went to university.

      Nothing much except for the scale (upwards) has changed since. I think that “legal highs” in smallish communities simply tapped into the existing demand (my parents live in Rotorua). I think that the same existing demand exists in every poverty stricken area I have ever had contact with.

      I’d prefer to have it legal and regulated. It makes it a whole lot easier to deal with the existing problem we already had.

      • weka 2.3.1

        Cannabis (whole plant) isn’t physically addictive in the way that alcohol, opiates, nicotine etc are (physical habituation is a different thing). It certainly is psychologically addictive, but pretty much all the people I have know who have had problems with cannabis have done so in the context of other drugs and other issues. Full-blown hard out addiction to cannabis itself is not common.

        Legal highs (we really need a better name for this class of drugs) are not comparable to cannabis when it comes to addiction and withdrawal issues, although I agree there are issues of treatment for people having problems with cannabis.

        I don’t think the addiction issue warrants hard regulation of cannabis, although I do think the regulation should be thought through carefully, which means taking it out of parliament.

      • phillip ure 2.3.2

        “..was how we located and killed the locals putting small plantations in our bush..”

        where did you bury the bodies..?

    • Clemgeopin 2.4

      What is the cut off point at which we know when this noble target of ‘eliminating or at the very least alleviating poverty in this country’ has been reached? Until that time, should we also make alcohol and tobacco illegal?

      • Ant 2.4.1

        Living wage, job creation, benefits that let people live in dignity, stopping the vilification of beneficiaries, safe warm dry homes for starters. Maybe a few signs of making a bit of an effort first.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Making marijuana a highly regulated R20 commodity where growing, distribution and retail is tightly controlled, with local communities having significant input (as they have with alcohol) and the ability to apply both local and central taxes is the way to go.

    I would point out that younger users of marijuana do have a measurably higher risk of ending up with serious mental illness, so there needs to be medical and counselling support available as well to help identify who is at risk and who is experiencing negative effects.

  4. weka 4

    Lynn, what do you mean by regulation of production and supply of cannabis? Are you suggesting that it would be illegal to grow for own use and sharing?

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      As I understand it in Washington State where cannabis has been legalised, it is not permitted to grow your own for personal use (growing for your own medical use is permitted, with restrictions).

      • weka 4.1.1

        do you know what the rationale was?

        • cricklewood 4.1.1.1

          I would say tax… aint no money in people growing their own…

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.1

            Tax would’ve been one, also the politics of getting the legislation passed – politicians agreeing to legalise in exchange for stringent controls and limitations on growing, distribution and retail.

    • karol 4.2

      Quality control?

      • weka 4.2.1

        what do you mean karol?

        • Populuxe1 4.2.1.1

          You can’t regulate something unless you can guarantee and control its consistancy. Quality (strength) of da weed varies considerably from various sources.

    • cricklewood 4.3

      I say you treat it exactly like alcohol ie homebrewing for personal use etc is fine just cant sell it…
      I would like serious consideration to some ‘harder drugs’ given the same treatment specifically mdma and lsd in an attempt to curb meth etc. Both are relativily safe and can be made to an exacting legislative standard. All ‘profit’ or tax plowed into harm minimisation etc. Probably sell it as a pharmaceutical similar rules to panadiene etc

    • lprent 4.4

      When you currently do home brew – how do you do it? You buy regulated supplies from a supplier. That way you know that whatever you are getting isn’t an issue. I can’t think of any home brewer that I know who does everything from their own resources.

      Similarly when you grow plants, how many people do you know who don’t buy their seeds and plants from a plant shop? Not that many and those that do usually don’t do the whole seed stock/graft thing for everything that they do.

      But in answer to your question I’d say that the regulation is that something like that in Washington or Colorado. You can grow for personal use and for those of friends and family. You are not allowed to sell it unless you are a registered and regulated grower. The issue and reason for that is quality control, taxation, and removing the incentive for people to enhance their product with unregulated additives.

      • weka 4.4.1

        Lol, ok we move in different circles because lots of people I know make their own wine, cider etc from plants they grow themselves.

        “Similarly when you grow plants, how many people do you know who don’t buy their seeds and plants from a plant shop? Not that many and those that do usually don’t do the whole seed stock/graft thing for everything that they do.”

        But it’s not illegal to propogate your own plants, and many people do – there is a thriving seed saving network in NZ, and lots of people graft and swap. In fact, this has been a hot topic in the past few years as people were concerned about whether the Food Bill would affect home gardeners and peopel growing for farmers markets. But at the moment it is unregulated.

        You can grow for personal use and for those of friends and family. You are not allowed to sell it unless you are a registered and regulated grower. The issue and reason for that is quality control, taxation, and removing the incentive for people to enhance their product with unregulated additives.

        I think the personal use/share thing is imperative. Cannabis is a very social drug, and lots of people are expert growers. Many users would be mightly pissed off if they lose that part of their culture.

        I also think that rather than handing commercial cannabis over to big business, regulation should enable small businesses and co-ops. We already have many parts of the country where communities where growing is an integral part of the local economy, and there is an opportunity here to empower those communities to grow that.

        The additives and growing chemicals issues are important, but can be dealt with in other ways. Not sure what the quality control issues are apart from that.

        • cricklewood 4.4.1.1

          Yeah I know more than a few that brew / distill from scratch these days, mediocre from the can home brew is on the way out…
          Most growers and keen gardeners for that matter are pretty skilled in terms of propagation always have been in NZ specially with regards to cuttings. Once up and running you pretty much never need to ‘buy’ seeds although there could conceivably be a market similar to tomatoes at the garden centre’s in the spring for the curious.
          Not to much to worry about in terms of quality control really…

        • Molly 4.4.1.2

          “I also think that rather than handing commercial cannabis over to big business, regulation should enable small businesses and co-ops.”

          Fully agree. I think this one suggestion could stop the development of the marijuana equivalent of RTD’s in the future, and retain the control where the effects are felt – at local level.

  5. amirite 5

    The problem is that even if you decriminalise marijuana there is still workplace drug testing, so people will still be drawn to synthetic highs even if they’re made illegal.
    It will be interesting to see the first stats of the Colorado experiment with decriminalised MJ.
    It’s time for all NZ politicians to take their blinkers off and start a debate about marijuana.

    • cricklewood 5.1

      The problem lies with the testing. There needs to be a move towards impairment testing rather than the current regime.

      • Tiger Mountain 5.1.1

        Agree cricklewood, the test kit manufacturers and marketers have a good little earner with their kits that indicate use not necessarily impairment, and those false positives from some perfectly legal cold remedies.

      • McFlock 5.1.2

        snap 🙂

    • McFlock 5.2

      maybe workplace testing should concentrate on impairment rather than “smoked in the last 3 weeks”.

      Actually, that’s my main argument against most forms of workplace drug testing – alcohol is the only one that has any relationship with level of impairment at time of testing, AFAIK.

  6. freedom 6

    All I would like to say is I hope this piece gets widely shared.
    A guest editorial in the daily papers would be a good start.

    • Chooky 6.1

      +100 …good post …and i agree with decriminalising using marijuana…for many it is a less harmful drug than alcohol or tobacco

      …but I would place restrictions on those of school age using it ie like alcohol sales it would be illegal to sell/supply to those under 18years

      …..as for all the synthetic stuff which toxicologists/A@E are worried about as well as parents and the users themselves….i would make them all illegal

      • freedom 6.1.1

        Remove the synthetic cannabis certainly but there are other products, principally the amphetamine & ecstasy substitutes, that were not a big problem outside of the abuse argument. They have been around for quite a few years now, decades in some cases and they are shown to be largely non addictive and low harm in nature. (certainly on par with or below alcohol) This has been clouded by the very real dangers of the synthetic cannabis. Hopefully the testing shows this to be as accurate as the ‘anecdata’ suggests.

        Synthetic cannabis is the cancer ridden heart of this issue.

        Time for a transplant

      • Tangled_up 6.1.2

        Most of the people interviewed on Campbell Live said they would go back to Marijuana. If this sample is indicative of what will happen then banning synthetics will reduce demand for synthetics. Which is a good thing if you think Marijuana is safer than synthetics.

  7. Clemgeopin 7

    Well said. My thoughts too. So I agree wholeheartedly!

    [No, I don’t indulge in marijuana or any other drug, except alcohol, but even that, not excessively]

  8. Tiger Mountain 8

    “Reality is for those that can’t handle liquor and drugs” one of my hedonist associates used to say as if he meant it, whereas others would claim the reverse.

    There are so many angles to this one. Individual freedom, societal good, animal testing, political expediency, corporate and small business interests, conflation by some of chemical concoctions and actual cannabis, medical and scientific opinion, community workers and families that deal with the fallout of misuse and overuse. “legal high” sellers like budget liquor stores, pokies and loan sharks seem to prey on the poor too, not so many outlets in the leafy suburbs.

    Personally I don’t use cannabis, but many people I know do, and sure would like the medical version at least to be easily available as an option for say those having cancer treatment. Ultimately imo all personal drug use should be legalised to cut the crims out (really how many people would want to sit around out of their gourds on opiates for example), with addiction treated as a medical not criminal issue. And liquor and tobacco looked at harder too.

    • weka 8.1

      Medical marijuana aside, cannabis doesn’t need to be tested on animals, which is another big plus for legalising.

    • lprent 8.2

      I’m really tired of having to pay for and cope with the fallout from making relatively innocuous drugs illegal.

      I really find the idea of making a chemical stew “legal” quite repugnant – especially when the debate turns to testing them on animals. FFS there are literally thousands of years of known cannabis testing on humans.

      I find the sight of those idiots in parliament trying to squeeze some fine line between regulation and prohibition irritating. They really just need to fall on one side or another. I think it should be on the regulatory side. But if they actually want prohibition, then they should pay for the hopeless task.

  9. captain hook 9

    hook used to toke on the odd joint but gave it away. However I think that all societies have always had some form of psychic relief and marawanna is th best one in my opinion. Better than alcohol or coke or smack but no good for the brewers and the purveyors of that most pernicious addiction besides that blue one that doctors hand out to housewives in ever increasing amounts.. They should test that one on shifty key!

    • Chooky 9.1

      lol…whatever the blue one is ( the drug pushers you really have to watch out for are the doctors)

      • Populuxe1 9.1.1

        No, the drug pushers the ones you really have to watch out for are the ones getting your teenagers hooked on meth.

        • vto 9.1.1.1

          Well yes, but no not really the ones to watch out for when it comes to structural problems in society….

          the ones your really have to watch out for are the ones getting your teenagers hooked on debt. The debt-pushers – they are the ones. They will hook you up and promise all sorts of goodies but then as soon as you struggle then swoop in they come and take all your belongings. They have no concern for the users of their drug.. I mean, debt.

          Debt-pushers and drug-pushers. The similarities are eery scary

  10. Bearing in mind that prior to the Psychoactive Substances Act there appeared to be a complete lack of testing on “legal highs” except on recipient humans, then anything would have been better…

    That’s what gets me about this. We have no end of volunteers who cheerfully paid their own money to participate in completely uncontrolled trials of new drugs. How much do we have to overthink a testing regime for this stuff?

  11. i think we should return to the licensing trusts we used to have with alcohol..

    ..and/or local govt given the option of retailing..(splitting the take with central govt..?..)

    ..this so all/most of the money made..

    ..comes back into the communities where that money is spent..

    local jobs created in growing/processing/retailing..

    (and of course local co-ops etc given this option also..

    ..and of course personal growing allowed..)

    (boutique-growers’ tours of northland..?..anyone..?..)

  12. Souvlaki 12

    Ye Gods ! I find myself for the first time, in agreement with you.

  13. ianmac 13

    There was a scientist in Canterbury who said within the last week on TV, that he was getting positive results in curing addiction in rats. Not just to stop the addiction briefly but permanently. Not just drugs like morphine but any addictive cause like alcoholism. Since there are perhaps 60,000+ alcoholics in NZ imagine the effect that this would have if cured. Gambling? Legal highs?

    • RedLogix 13.1

      that he was getting positive results in curing addiction in rats.

      That gets my interest.

      I’m completely over all this distracting crap around drugs. Addiction , abuse, violence, mental illness, self-medication and slow suicide – all variations on damaged wiring somewhere in the body-mind.

      Short-term decide on the simplest, lowest net-harm pragmatic response.

      We’ve tried the criminalising experiment and it’s not very effective. Try something else, anything else – and see if it works better. I’m not going to pretend I know the answer, but I’ll back any alternative at this point which seems to come with a reasoned argument.

      Long-term – figure out why we are damaging so many people’s wiring and stop doing it.

      • Bill 13.1.1

        …figure out why we are damaging so many people’s wiring and stop doing it.

        We aren’t ‘damaging’ anyone’s ‘wiring’. We adapt to our environments. All adaptation is valid. If society is producing a lot of damaging or negative adaptation to occur in the population, then change the society to shift the range/type of peoples’ adaptations.

  14. BEATINGTHEBOKS 14

    The massive hole in JKs morality on this issue is “oh no we can’t test the effects on animal’s” well how about the general population then, well maybe not the general population just the ferals. Never mind just politics. I love the animals you know, just not the two legged kind with opposable thumbs who can make fire and roll their own joints, quite smart really, secretly I hate them, I hope they become bumble fucked zombies and never learn what the words polling station mean. That’s the plan. Wish I could get rid of that poncy bastard Dung though, he’s a problem always dropping his fatuous bow tie in the stew. If it wasn’t for him and his drug dealer son we wouldn’t be facing a compulsory mass detox in a few weeks. Hope its after the election but eh?

  15. fambo 15

    Only just found out recently this interesting fact about prescription medication

    “The millions of doses of prescription drugs that Americans swallow annually to combat cancer, pain, depression and other ailments do not disappear harmlessly into their digestive systems, researchers have determined, but instead make their way back into the environment where they may contaminate drinking water and pose a threat to aquatic wildlife.”

    http://www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/home02/apr02/prescrip.html

    • Clemgeopin 15.1

      Thanks fambo for that VERY interesting and thought provoking info on that link.

      I wonder how contaminated the water is already now and how bad it will be in the future!

  16. finbar 16

    Used to smoke the weed long time ago.Grew it also for personal,would have been a waste of time anyway if i chose to sell it, for i used to graft it onto another plant.

    I wonder if canabis was decriminalised and sold in shops,would we see the same agrivated legal high stoners queueing up at opening hours.Probably would be queueing but not as agressive.

    In my opinion,when they removed the more stronger legal high of the market,and replaced it with the lesser potent ,the users increased their volume of consumption and with that increased their dependency.Off course the winner beside the Government, by way of taxation intake, was also the sellers,as their turnover increased selling the lesser potent brew with a shorter stone effect.

  17. crash 17

    Interesting how so many comment on pot but add the disclaimer ” I used too but not now or I dont smoke it” Bit of middle class guilt? Anyway I find it odd all the energy and money that has gone into legal highs when a simple decriminalisation of pot should have been sufficient. A long winded way to keep our public appearances up internationally I presume. Pot is relatively harmless unles youre a bible bashing conservative and as they say “Ive never met someone who hasnt got stoned who would not benefit by doing so and I’ve never met a stoner who couldnt do with cutting back”

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  • PM congratulates Boris Johnson on election victory
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his election victory.  “New Zealand and the United Kingdom are close friends and despite our distance we are strongly connected by our history and people,” Jacinda Ardern said.  “I look forward to continuing to work with Prime ...
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    2 days ago
  • Building a platform for the future of rail
    The Government has released its long term vision for a sustainable 21st Century rail network that gets our cities moving, connects our regions and gets more freight off the roads.   Deputy Prime Minister and State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters said the Government is committed to rebuilding New Zealand’s ...
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    2 days ago
  • Prime Minister statement Whakaari White Island recovery operation
    I want to start by acknowledging the families who have experienced such grief and such loss since the extraordinary tragedy on Monday. Today was all about reuniting them with their loved ones. We've just come from the airport where many of them were gathered and in amongst what you can ...
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    2 days ago
  • New Zealand medical specialists to provide further support to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters today announced further support for Samoa’s longer term needs as it continues to respond to a devastating measles epidemic. “Samoa’s health system has experienced massive strain in the wake of the measles epidemic. The volume of patients needing care during this outbreak, and the number of ...
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    2 days ago
  • Discounted electric-bikes offered to public sector workers
    Discounted electric bikes will be offered up to public sector staff across the country as part of the Government’s work to reduce transport emissions and support healthier transport options.  Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter officially launched the new initiative at Wellington Hospital today.  “The Government has negotiated bulk-purchase ...
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    2 days ago
  • Australia and New Zealand confirm joint bid for FIFA Women’s World Cup
    The Australian and New Zealand Governments today launch an historic joint bid to bring the FIFA Women’s World Cup to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. Australian Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck and New Zealand Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson will announce the bold campaign, ...
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    2 days ago
  • Blackwater gold mine gets PGF boost
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has approved a $15 million loan to help re-establish a gold mining operation at Blackwater Gold Mine, near Reefton, Rural Communities Minister and local MP Damien O’Connor announced at an event on the West Coast today. “This is great news for the Coast that could ...
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    2 days ago
  • Papakāinga model inspires whānau well-being
    Papakāinga model inspires whānau well-being A housing project by Kohupātiki whānau in Hastings is an outstanding example of a Māori-led housing initiative that can reduce financial pressure and reconnect whānau to their whakapapa says the Minister for Māori Development Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  Minister Mahuta officially opened the Aroha Te Rangi ...
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    2 days ago
  • Government provides more funding for major community wetland restoration project
    Restoration efforts for a significant wetland in the Hawke’s Bay are getting more support announced Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage. “Wetlands are vital to healthy landscapes and ecosystems. They function as nature’s ‘kidneys’, filtering and protecting water quality, acting as nature’s sponges after rain and are home to ...
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    2 days ago
  • Housing First to help Nelson Tasman homeless
    Nelson has today seen the launch of Housing First Nelson Tasman. Today’s launch marks the expansion of the Government’s homelessness programme, Housing First, to the top of the South Island. “Housing First is a proven programme that puts people who are experiencing homelessness and multiple, high and complex needs into ...
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    2 days ago
  • New funding to support Environment Centres working for sustainable local solutions
    New Government funding announced today will help communities make a difference in tackling environmental issues Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage announced in Hawkes Bay today. The Ministry for the Environment’s Community Environment Fund is dedicating $243,101 to growing the capacity and capability of the Environment Hubs Aotearoa’s (EHA) ...
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    2 days ago
  • Government takes bite out of loan sharks
    The days of vulnerable consumers falling victim to loan sharks, truck shops and other predatory lenders are numbered, following the Credit Contracts Legislation Amendment Bill passing its third reading tonight. “Too many Kiwis are being given loans that are unaffordable and unsuitable, trapping them in debt and leaving their families ...
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    3 days ago
  • New Zealand safer as Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders Bill) becomes law
    A Bill that prevents terrorism and supports the de-radicalisation of New Zealanders returning from overseas has passed its third reading, Justice Minister Andrew Little says. The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill is a carefully targeted response to manage the risk posed by a small number of New Zealanders who have ...
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    3 days ago
  • Foreign Minister and Pacific Peoples Minister to visit Samoa
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio will travel to Samoa on Friday, where New Zealand medical teams are helping Samoa respond to an outbreak of measles. “New Zealand has been working closely with the Government of Samoa and offering our assistance from the ...
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    3 days ago
  • New Pastoral Care Code will support tertiary students in 2020
    The Government has changed the law to improve student safety and welfare in university halls of residence and other student accommodation. The Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Bill passed its third reading this afternoon and details of an interim Code of Practice setting out the Government’s expectations of tertiary providers have also been released. ...
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    3 days ago
  • New infrastructure funding tool to build housing developments faster
    A new tool to help councils fund and finance infrastructure could mean some housing developments happen a decade earlier than currently planned, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said today. “This new tool, developed by the Government in partnership with industry and high-growth councils, will allow councils to access private debt ...
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    3 days ago
  • Vision to unite the primary sector launched today
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed the release of a bold new vision for the country’s vital food and fibre sector. “I’m delighted that New Zealand’s major farmer and grower organisations are today supporting the Primary Sector Council’s vision – Fit for a Better World,” he said. “The international consumers ...
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    3 days ago
  • NZ congratulates PNG and Autonomous Bougainville Government on referendum
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has congratulated the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government for completing a well-conducted referendum on the future political status of Bougainville. “New Zealand supported the referendum process by providing technical advice through the New Zealand Electoral Commission and leading a Regional Police ...
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    3 days ago
  • Next steps for Upper North Island logistics
    In light of Cabinet’s position that freight operations on prime land in downtown Auckland are no longer viable, the Government will now embark on a short work programme to enable decision-making in the first half of next year, Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones says. Minister Jones is today releasing the ...
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    3 days ago
  • Surgical mesh restorative justice report received
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter has received the report back from a surgical mesh restorative justice process undertaken by Victoria University. The process heard stories, either in person or online submission, from more than 600 people affected by surgical mesh. “The report made for heart-breaking and confronting reading,” says ...
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    3 days ago
  • The Water Services Regulator Bill – Taumata Arowai a milestone for drinking water safety
    The Water Services Regulator Bill – Taumata Arowai , introduced to Parliament today, is a milestone for drinking water safety in New Zealand and will help improve environmental outcomes for urban waterways, rivers and lakes.  “This is a breakthrough for New Zealanders in terms of providing safe drinking water throughout ...
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    3 days ago
  • Speech to new direction for criminal justice reform announcement
    Kia ora koutouE ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā matā wakaTēnā koutou katoaHaere ngā, moe maiKoutou ma ngā Rangatira Ko Anaru ahauKo au te Minita mo ngā TureHe Honore tino nui kei roto I ahau No reira tena koutou katoa Today, we are releasing two reports that are the ...
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    3 days ago
  • New direction for criminal justice reform
    The Government is looking to turn around the long-term challenges of criminal justice by taking a new approach to break the cycle of offending to ensure there are fewer victims of crime. Justice Minister Andrew Little released two reports today, Turuki! Turuki! from Te Uepū Hāpai I te Ora, and ...
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    3 days ago
  • New law sets up $300m Venture Capital Fund
    New Zealand firms expanding beyond the start-up phase are set for more support after today’s passage of the Venture Capital Fund Bill, Associate Finance Minister David Parker said. The Bill, which establishes a $300 million Venture Capital Fund, puts in place a key initiative of the Wellbeing Budget’s economic package. ...
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    4 days ago
  • New Zealand’s National Statement to COP25
    E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā iwi, e ngā rau rangatira mā. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Señora Presidenta, Excellencies, Delegates. International action A common thread that runs through the Paris Agreement is the commitment we have made to each other to do what we can to ...
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    4 days ago
  • $12 billion in extra infrastructure investment
    The Government is lifting capital investment to the highest level in more than 20 years as it takes the next step to future-proof New Zealand. Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced $12 billion of new investment, with $8 billion for specific capital projects and $4 billion to be added to ...
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    4 days ago
  • Strong economy, careful spending gives $12bn of surpluses
    The Government is forecast to run $12 billion worth of surpluses across the four years to 2023/24 as the economy continues to grow. The surpluses will help fund day-to-day capital requirements each year. These include fixing leaky hospitals, building new classrooms to cover population growth and take pressure off class ...
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    4 days ago
  • Priorities for 2020 Wellbeing Budget outlined
    Budget 2020 will continue the Coalition Government’s focus on tackling the long-term challenges facing New Zealand while also investing to future-proof the economy. When the Government took office in 2017 it was left with crumbling infrastructure, severe underinvestment in public services, degraded rivers and lakes, a housing crisis and rising ...
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    4 days ago
  • Minister welcomes data-rich coastline mapping tool
    The Minister responsible for the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 (te Takutai Moana Act 2011), Andrew Little has welcomed the launch of an online geospatial tool that provides data-rich, dynamic coastline maps that will significantly boost research and evidence-gathering under the Act. Te Kete Kōrero a Te ...
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    4 days ago
  • Chief Victims Advisor reappointed for a further two years
    The Chief Victims Advisor to Government Dr Kim McGregor, QSO, has been reappointed in her role for a further two years. Dr McGregor has held the role since it was established in November 2015. She provides independent advice to government on how to improve the criminal justice system for victims. ...
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    4 days ago
  • New Zealand tsunami monitoring and detection system to be established
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare have today announced the deployment of a network of DART (Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami) buoys. “New Zealand and the Pacific region are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. It is vital we have adequate warning systems in place,” ...
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    4 days ago
  • DART Buoys Announcement
    DART Buoys Announcement Aotea Wharf, 9.30am 11 December 2019   Acknowledgements Acknowledgements to Minister for Civil Defence Hon Peeni Henare also here today. White Island It is with regret that this event shadows the tragic natural disaster two days ago. The volcanic eruptions on White Island have claimed 5 lives, ...
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    4 days ago
  • Final steps for racing industry reform
    Racing Minister Winston Peters has welcomed the first reading of the Racing Industry Bill in parliament today. This is the second of two Bills that have been introduced this year to revitalise New Zealand’s racing industry. “Our domestic racing industry has been in serious decline.  The Government is committed to ...
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    5 days ago
  • Funding to promote New Zealand Sign Language initiatives
    Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni, is pleased to announce that $291,321 is to be awarded to national and local community initiatives to maintain and promote the use of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). “New Zealand is one of the few countries  in the world where Sign Language is an ...
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    5 days ago
  • How New Zealand defines and recognises veterans
    Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has announced today the Coalition Government’s initial response to work completed by the independent statutory body, the Veterans’ Advisory Board. “When Professor Ron Paterson completed his review of the Veterans’ Support Act in 2018, he made a number of recommendations, including one which I referred ...
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    5 days ago