Legalize It

Written By: - Date published: 8:44 am, August 12th, 2016 - 95 comments
Categories: class war, health and safety, referendum, tourism, trade, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

Labour Leader Andrew Little has suggested during a student radio station interview that a future Labour led government would look to put the legalisation of marijuana to a referendum. He emphasised it wasn’t a priority issue, but something that might be looked at in a second term. This is something he has already put on the agenda and it’s good that he’s not backing away from the idea.

There’s a couple of things that stand out for me in this bit of blue sky thinking. First, I think it’s excellent that Andrew is already looking past next year’s election and planning for the medium term. That kind of confidence is exactly what the left and the country need.

Secondly, I think that if a referendum on medicinal marijuana were held now, the proposition would enjoy far more support than John Key’s wanky flag change idea was ever going to achieve. I reckon the majority of Kiwis already see the obvious value in using the herb to ease suffering.

Decriminalisation for recreational use is probably a step too far for most Kiwis at this point however. I’m not entirely sure why that should be. We’re a pretty liberal country in many ways, despite 30 years of neo liberalism trying to turn us inward looking, selfish and sneering. We also use dope recreationally at one of the highest levels of any first world country.

But there seems to be a irrational puritanical opposition to marijuana reform that I’ve never quite understood.

If it were to be legalised, there would have to be some consequent changes in workplace drug testing regimes. At the moment, most firms use urine samples, which are hopeless at identifying harmful drugs or actual impairment, but do allow employers to fire people for out of work lifestyle choices. To put it another way, urine testing isn’t about making our workplaces safer, it’s about giving bosses power and control over our social lives.

If marijuana use is ever made legal, we will have to legislate to make saliva testing the only legal standard for workplace disciplinary processes. That would have the bonus of making drug testing policies fit for purpose.

Just as an aside, tiredness from overwork is a form of impairment. A large number of Kiwi workers get killed going home from work, driving knackered. But nothing much is ever said about that issue.

I’m not advocating anybody use drugs. Or alcohol for that matter. But I do think there is a fundamental unfairness in one smoking product that we know without doubt kills thousands being legal, while another similar substance which kills no one is banned.

I look forward to a referendum on smoking. But lets put the option of banning tobacco on the ballot too.

 

 

 

 

 

95 comments on “Legalize It”

  1. Sabine 1

    i don’t think that legalization is a step to far if done right. Most of us would know someone who smokes or has smoked. Most of us can see the how it can be beneficial for people that have ailments. Most of us can see that the weed is not more dangerous then the piss. In fact we could discuss the difference between weed and piss and most likely see that piss is by far the bigger cost to society.

    What we have to do however is to finally shut up people like Peter Fucking Dunne and even Blinglish who should be asked about their priorities.

    But again, as in the US and their school to prison pipeline, Weed, its procurement and usage has kept NZ Prisons full for a long time and in the days of Prisons for Profit, i can’t see any changes soon. These prisons need to be at full occupancy, the government promised full occupancy and profit needs to be made.

    So very much like in the US we are going to fuck over people for a joint, while giving a drunk driving fuckwit a slap with a wet bus tickets regardless of someone dying or not.

    Its all about priorities, never mind the business opportunities, the tax revenue, the jobs created etc etc etc.

    • Liberal Realist 1.1

      i don’t think that legalization is a step to far if done right.

      Have to agree with you there. Now that there are a few examples in the US & Europe of successful legalization hopefully they can be used to help make the case. I’ve read statistics out of Colorado which show a drop in crime after legalization compared to before. State revenue is also up as a result. Hell cannabis can be taxed at 85% (which I think is the rate in Colorado) and still be profitable – can’t recall his name but a bloke from NZ runs a big grow outfit in the States which Stuff ran an article about a while back.

      Of course National will never take steps in this direction because their constituency are firmly against it, and likely always be no matter how much evidence is presented that legalization is a good thing. I personally have a family member who is dyed in the wool National and always will be no matter what they do. They will ignore anything dodgy that Nact do, very much ‘if I don’t see it or know about it, then it didn’t happen’ type attitude. I suspect that this type of attitude toward cannabis is prevalent within Nact’s conservative constituency.

      But again, as in the US and their school to prison pipeline, Weed, its procurement and usage has kept NZ Prisons full for a long time and in the days of Prisons for Profit, i can’t see any changes soon. These prisons need to be at full occupancy, the government promised full occupancy and profit needs to be made.

      So very much like in the US we are going to fuck over people for a joint, while giving a drunk driving fuckwit a slap with a wet bus tickets regardless of someone dying or not.

      Re: the Prison pipeline, agree with you there to. Albeit that our problem is nowhere as near as bad when compared to the US. That said, I know a few guys from when I was in my late teens / early 20’s who got locked up for a tinny or in one case a partially smoked joint. Guess what colour their skin was? Yep, brown. There is, without a doubt, racism in our justice system. One of the guys I knew went in relatively innocent, mild mannered and generally a nice person to coming out a hardened criminal with connections to a network. Sending young people to prison for minor crap like this creates far more problems than treating drug abuse as a medical issue.

      As for health concerns, I’m of the opinion that it’s well understood that alcohol is far far more damaging that smoking cannabis. Our health system is ravaged by alcohol related injuries and illnesses, yet booze is socially acceptable and has a very strong lobby to boot so I see the booze industry fighting any change to the law on cannabis…

      • Kate 1.1.1

        When a political party starts talking about legalizing a substance that should of never been illegal in the first place then you can bet your bottom dollar a corporate world of political power will be clapping their hands all the way to the trillion pool of dillusional happiness.

        Do not be fools and believe that the mj that will exist legally will be anything like what you need medically 100% OH NATURAL.

        If a corporate world like as a example Tobacco Companies become the distributor it will contain less than what is needed to make a difference medically and nothing but a money machine for our already billionaires.

        Our people need to wise up just grow it yourself you don’t need a already fraudulent government to give you the hands up and hoodwink you again out of of well earnt dollar.
        Seventy per cent of our people agree it shouldn’t be legal we are a democratic society who have 300,000 people one pay week away from being homeless get our government to deal with real issues of inequality and stop playing into the general perception that all laws are to protect our people and enhance well being
        Alll the mirrors are telling us that we have burdens of Corporation set up to gain off hard working good people and we have the rights as a democratic society to gently shift the powers of greed.
        I am not advocating against government of coarse we need law an order and a population to actively vote , however IMO I have noticed over the last thirty years that the suffering of greed is out of control MJ is a very healing substance and it would be Immoral if this substance was to be manufactured under a Corporate distribution.
        PROFESSIONAL EXPERTS HAVE mislead our people and led a force that made MJ use corrupt and only for criminal conjestore when all along they knew by research a hundred and fifty years ago it was used for healing and celebrations of good will amongst hierarchy and trIbal communities….

    • weston 1.2

      Agree with most of your sentiments sabine but i dont see how you could dismiss penalties for dd as a slap with a wet bus ticket etc dd legislation has changed the habits of the whole country f.f.s. and the ante is being upped continuously Its quite likely that in the not so distant future ALL cars not just those of repeat dd offenders will be fitted with alc detectors .Of all the drugs alcohol is the one being taken the most seriously and is the one having the most money thrown at it although funnily enough you dont go to jail for possessing it .Weird Scenes !!

      • plumington 1.2.1

        Maybe the alcohol lobby has more money and sway than is realized by the great unwashed

        • gsays 1.2.1.1

          spot on plummington,
          alcohol/supermarket lobbyisists clearly have too much sway in wellington.
          for this reason i favour decriminilisation, as legalizing has the potential to put the demon weed into the hands of the corporates.

  2. I think a lot of the opposition to this reform is actually because we haven’t had an intelligent and facts-based discussion about decriminalisation or legalisation of marijuana, which is why a referendum is a good idea, because having a referendum inevitably makes the public consider an issue and because we have the internet, we all get an excuse to talk about it and increase the quality of debate generally.

    Any objective analysis of it as a recreational drug would conclude it should be classed somewhere between tobacco and alcohol, which would suggest that recreational use being legal is the best status for it. (you can have wonkish arguments about what the best way to achieve that is- do you merely decriminalise possession of small amounts so that you can still bust dealers, or do you legalise and bring the whole industry into the daylight?) I would argue that alcohol is actually a more dangerous drug, as its behavioural side-effects are likely to induce violence, wheras marijuana is likely to prevent violence, although still has similar health effects and is probably just as dangerous for drivers. (so there would be some costs to the health system from the increased use easing criminal policy would foster, and there would be an infrastructure outlay for testing people who are driving high similar to the equipment the police already have for alcohol)

    That’s completely ignoring the harm that is actively done by criminalisation, from people needlessly locked up and given criminal records due to largely harmless recreational drug use, to the fostering of a black market, which reduces tax revenue, acts as a gateway to other crime both ad-hoc and organised, and impedes our ability to treat drug addiction as a health issue, (because it is primarily a health issue) or educate people effectively about drugs because seeking the information leaves behind evidence that you might have been looking to buy drugs.

    • shorts 2.1

      I’m not interested in a meek promise of introducing a referendum over this matter – Little and Labour this is a massive cop out

      I and many others will vote for and support a party that makes legalisation an election policy, a party that has the foresight (well more like hindsight) to push forward with progressive drug policy instead of deference of the issue

      Make it legal, regulate, tax and put a focus on education, harm reduction and health care for those who need it

      • b waghorn 2.1.1

        Well vote for labour then, and you might get your wish in 4 years.

        • shorts 2.1.1.1

          I could just vote National – eventually the polls will swing enough for them to enact legislation for medicinal use (quite possible) or fall legislation

          or neither of these two parties are offering me a reason to vote for them on this one issue

          disclaimer – it will be a cold day in hell I vote National, Labour however still have to earn my vote, its not theirs by default, well tbh due to my electorate it pretty much is theirs candidate wise, party wise its not been so

        • Why vote Labour if you’re for legalisation when you can vote for the Greens who out-and-out support it with none of this referendum wishy-washyness?

          The only reason the Greens haven’t been putting bills on this before parliament is because they don’t have the negotiating power to make it a priority ahead of other more critical issues. (because as we all know, until at least Labour supports it, legalisation would be voted down spectacularly)

          • b waghorn 2.1.1.2.1

            A referendum has pulling power to get people to the voting booth if it’s done at election time( which is the only correct time for a referendum imo).
            A vote for either should get us on the path to a law review.

            • Matthew Whitehead 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Indeed, but if you really care about this issue as much as some people seem to, the only party in Parliament that’s actually commited to it is the Greens. ALP will never get into Parliament, and with Labour you’re risking a vote not going your way. People should vote based on their values and key issues, so if they want policies like legalisation they should be voting that way so that we get the correct policy mix for the country.

        • weston 2.1.1.3

          But because labour is every bit as pc as national you MIGHTnot also

      • Xanthe 2.1.2

        Internet party

    • Liberal Realist 2.2

      Saying marijuana is a gateway drug is rubbish propaganda mate. The gateway is due to the fact it’s illegal hence to acquire one must purchase from a dealer, that dealer may also carry ‘other products’. This isn’t always the case, but often is.

      Legalize and bring it all into the open. Regulate. Do this and you kill the black market and shutdown the gateway to harder stuff.

      • Gangnam Style 2.2.1

        Alcohol is a gateway drug, I mean how far back do you want to go? But LR is correct, pot is illegal so the gangs have control over it & other drugs & that is why there is a ‘gateway’, take the gangs out of the picture of selling pot & there will be no ‘gateway’ to harder drugs.

  3. vto 3

    Alcohol should be banned.

    Alcohol is responsible for more trauma and crime in this country than ANYTHING.

    Marijuana is a nothing, and the people who rail against it fully ignorant

    • I don’t think you know many dopers if you think weed is nothing lol

    • So you’re advocating full prohibition of alcohol, VTO? Do you think that would work better than it did in the USA, and if so, how?

      I don’t disagree with you that alcohol use and abuse in New Zealand is a problem, but there’s got to be better ways to deal with it than full-blown criminalisation. (In fact, arguably there are some ways to liberalise our alcohol laws while reducing our problem drinking culture. I think for instance encouraging people younger than 18 to drink under responsible supervision is an excellent exception to the current law, as it makes people less likely to binge later, although obviously it doesn’t solve the issue for people whose role models already binge drink, so there needs to be more measures aimed at older drinkers too, especially parents who drink)

      • vto 3.2.1

        No, it would never be banned given our peoples penchant and genes so predisposed towards its consumption ….. but it should be in light of the evidence …

        More rules and regs wont change much. Cultural change is what is needed, and those sorts of changes are typically generational ….

        We could take a few leaves from the latin countries and their far more civilised ways n this arena methinks. We are such Neanderthals sometimes (apologies to Neanderthals)

        • BM 3.2.1.1

          New Zealanders are a hell of a lot more civilized in the way we drink than 30 years ago.

          No doubt it’s different down in Dunedin ( the city that time forgot about) but in most other parts of NZ, people have moved on from that drinking only to get shit faced approach to alcohol.

          Just have to look at the rise in the amount of wine and craft beers being drunk and the decrease in the amount of mass produced beers being consumed.

          • TC 3.2.1.1.1

            Thats irrelevant imo BM. mass beers are in decline as they have descended into lolly water produced by global brand pushers. Tui blond anyone?

            Its as much a ‘buy local’ at the right price point (which moa seem to get) as it is about being more circumspect regarding consumption.

          • Anno1701 3.2.1.1.2

            “people have moved on from that drinking only to get shit faced approach to alcohol.’

            no mate, your just out of touch

            you got old…

          • Cinny 3.2.1.1.3

            whether you are drunk on tui or drunk on craft beer some still turn into aggro arseholes. Ewww drunks yucky yucky. Maybe those drinking craft beer think they look a bit more fancy while being an arsehole. I live in the craft beer capital of NZ. Craft beer does have it’s bonuses, it’s stronger, you don’t need to drink as much of it to turn into an aggro arsehole if you are that way inclined.

            Nothing civilized in the way they drink in the big cities, Wellington and Auckland are a disgrace, thanks National for lowering the drinking age and placing alcohol in the supermarkets, everyone is behaving classier now as a result of that… yeah … NAH, not even a little bit.

          • Liberal Realist 3.2.1.1.4

            New Zealanders are a hell of a lot more civilized in the way we drink than 30 years ago.

            Yeah right! You clearly haven’t been on a night out in one of our major cities in a long long time BM.

        • Ah, I get you, it should be banned, but that’s no longer practical. Hmmm. Not sure I agree (because I don’t think it would ever be practical to ban a drug like alcohol or marijuana) but seems like a fair place to be coming from. I have to agree that generational change is part of the issue for sure.

  4. I think Little should have shut up until there was more information.

    I think this will be another stick to beat little with.

    Why even bring it up or answer the question put to him like he did – basic error imo.

    Stick to med weed – that has legs and cannot be argued against.

    and maybe go back to homelessness and trying to make the middle feel a bit guilty about all their rental properties and dismal previous election choices.

    • I tend to agree with you, marty. I think Andrew shoots from the lip a bit too often, but to be fair to him, he has raised this issue before and I linked to that occasion in the post. If I was advising him (and I’m not, Standard author conspiracy fans), I’d say push for changes around medicinal use in the coming election. Nothing OTT, just say there’s a strong case for reform and it’s something the country should look at sooner rather than later.

    • You might be right.

      Of course, this could be another short-term problem like the Capital Gains Tax policy was, that if correctly handled could be a win for Labour. I guess we’ll see if it gains legs?

      To be fair this could help pull away support from the ALP to the Greens and Labour, as although the Greens do support reform on Marijuana, the issue hasn’t become imminent yet, so it’s really a question of does it actually cost him votes from the centre or not, because I’m pretty sure floating a referendum has gained him at least a few votes on the left.

    • TC 4.3

      +1 theres plenty of sticks to poke national with rather than giving the DP brigade material to twist, diffuse and divert with.

    • b waghorn 4.4

      Nup it’s a great move he gets to test the water and ease people into coming to terms with the coming change.
      I also have known a few people that a weed law review is the only thing will get them to a polling both.
      And fuck what national and their followers might say , it’s time for the left to stop worrying what shit key might say .

  5. Ad 5

    A referendum on medicinal use might be acceptable but only if the government put in place:

    – Far better drug testing on site.
    Especially for the forestry industry, fishing industry, freight industry, taxi industry, port workers industry, and the entire building and infrastructure industry. I’d want to see that in law first, because otherwise the foolish potheads who talk about their “rights” won’t be easy to find when the first drug-related forestry worker is crushed dead under a log.

    – A massive publicity campaign about both the good of pain relief, and also the bad medical outcomes to youth, children, babies and unborn children of smoking or ingesting any kind of marijuana oil.

    – A promise from both sides of the house that the massive tax they levy on this stuff will go to something good, preferably anti-addiction health work.

    – An assessment of the policing costs of the current system, and whether those costs would go down at all if the proposal is approved. I’m guessing most people are noticing the increased number of break-ins and robberies from people specifically targeting tobacco products now that the tax has gone up.

    – Rules for commercializing the growing of the plant in New Zealand.

    I’d also want some clear debate about whether on balance this is good for New Zealand. Not wanking on about people’s “rights”.

    • Sabine 5.1

      – i would like drug testing to show the level of intoxication not past use.
      – i would like to see age limits set just as we did with alcohol
      – quality control on the product sold, just as with alcohol or any other food
      – taxes levied
      – sales standards enacted

      and for what its worth we can look at Portugal, Holland, the US to get an idea what can be done, what it does long term – Holland / Portugal, short term – Colorado US.

      it is not as if we are still in the thirties trying to outlaw a plant cause it cuts the profits of pharma and oil based products industries.

    • drug test the lawyers, consultants, accountants, politicians and therein will the motherlode be found…

      • Ad 5.2.1

        Which is the price you pay for a regulated society.

        Rather than a fully black market, full of criminals and brimming with jails, which is what we have now.

        • marty mars 5.2.1.1

          Well some easy pickings are in Jail and the majority of users are not – especially if they appear to be respectable and can manage their addictions so that they appear unaddicted to most unknowledgeable people.

          So yep drug test the police, doctors, dentists, and so on – but I would argue it is a complete waste of time – why?

          If they are ‘managing’ they are good at hiding.

          What does an actual positive show – historical info, current info, future info?

          The cost is prohibitive especially when there are really no benefits apart from the revenue on fines, the employment of testers and the testing regime.

          • Ad 5.2.1.1.1

            If there’s no good testing regime available to prove that a worker of any kind is not impaired, then it should not be legalized (perhaps other than as medicine).

            • marty mars 5.2.1.1.1.1

              There are wide and varied ranges of things that can impair someones ability to work safely including emotional upsets such as loss, fear and so on.

              Testing for excessive coffee intake might be good too as that drug really makes things unsafe when over imbibed.

      • North 5.2.2

        Nooooo!

    • weston 5.3

      People were getting crushed dead by logs long before even axes were invented ad let alone chainsaws Its a dangerous business and whether your stoned or not you better be keeping you eyes open and your brain in gear thats the reality .
      You do realize just how massively out of proportion the tax take on tobacco is ??? and that this is the reason that tobacco is now so valuable .If pot was gonna be managed as badly as tobacco then sure things would be out of control very quickly Strangely it may be largely up to straight wankers like you that this doesnt occur .no offence intended .

      • Ad 5.3.1

        Drugs increase the risk of harm, particularly in the logging industry.
        The point is to decrease risk of harm in such industries. So we test to decrease that risk.
        If you’re at all aware of the changes in the law, the regulations, and the liability to Directors that has come in this year, you would understand that.

        Tobacco is taxed so highly because it is an addictive and cancerous drug that the government is seeking to eradicate from use across the whole of society. I’m sure you’ll be able to prove that smoking marijuana isn’t addictive or cancerous.

    • Hanswurst 5.4

      It’s always useful to have someone who knows how to go about picking up Peters’ grey vote.

  6. BM 6

    The biggest issue about making weed main stream is probably this.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2352695/Smoking-cannabis-really-DOES-make-people-lazy-affects-area-brain-responsible-motivation.html

    The thought of hordes of young people sitting around all day getting blazed instead of getting out there and finding a job is not going to go down well with the older generation.

    Here be dragons for any political party.

    • Ad 6.2

      Couldn’t tell the difference in being stoned from the moronic young people whose brains are perpetually engaged on screens obsessing about trivia.

    • I’m not surprised by that news. That’s not really an argument for it to be criminal though, alcohol is a full-blown depressant but good luck prying that from people’s hands, not least National voters and MPs! And good that nobody’s really proposing that seriously either, because I think prohibition in the US was a pretty good example of why it’s a failed policy to less harmful drugs. (hence why cigarettes are still legal despite having no active recreational properties- banning them is simply too problematic)

      This is why there’s a good case for full legalisation, because then you can actually make a good go at restricting the age to 21+, which will minimise the risk of mental illness due to smoking at a young age, and also give people a chance to get started in employment or study before they start smoking. 😉

      • BM 6.3.1

        I agree, smoking weed shouldn’t result in a criminal conviction.

        This is why there’s a good case for full legalisation, because then you can actually make a good go at restricting the age to 21+, which will minimise the risk of mental illness due to smoking at a young age, and also give people a chance to get started in employment or study before they start smoking.

        Would you be able to grow your own? or would you only be allowed to buy from state approved outlets?

        • Hah, okay, didn’t expect you to be onside here, but hey, you can’t always classify someone’s opinions by how they vote, fair enough. (like all those poor sods who opposed privatisation but voted National anyway…)

          Legalisation generally allows for small growers and distributors, although you might need to meet standards and get a license to sell it. I suppose you could call that having “state approved outlets,” but only in the same sense bars and liquor stores are “state approved alcohol outlets.”

          Decriminalisation generally doesn’t allow for that and it would probably still be a criminal offense, similar to being caught dealing.

          This is part of the reason I favour out-and-out legalisation rather than decriminalisation, it makes the least harmful recreational drug into a legitimate business and takes the harm of the criminal black market out of the equation, legitimising any medicinal use, boosting the economy, and boosting tax revenue. It’s practically a win/win/win/win proposition.

        • Cinny 6.3.1.2

          Grow your own, max number of plants maybe 8 plants, depends because just like any crop yield is usually attention dependent.
          Because it’s an ‘annual’ if you grow outside especially in the colder regions, you can only grow from mid spring and harvest in early/late autumn depending on the strain. Just like growing tomatoes. All people would need is seed or seedlings when growing outside. Inside is a bit more complex and costly.

          Being able to only access it via the state would just create a blackmarket

          Licence it, just like booze, licence to sell it. Same for growing it on a commercial scale.

      • Cinny 6.3.2

        i agree 21+ for the age. maybe a special cake on your 21st instead of a yard glass, no embarrassing spewing, just enjoy the birthday cake 😀

        • Yeah the reason I mention 21 is that there is actually some concern that until your brain is finished growing, (which doesn’t happen until about 25, but good luck stopping people smoking until then!) it might be quite dangerous to smoke marijuana, and it might cause personality change or even permanent cognitive impairment. And of course if we’re holding people off until their 20s, then 21 is kinda the natural age, as it’s usually when the last age restrictions are lifted under law.

          I do worry that we would get into a situation with legalisation where people would start thinking that an age restriction to 21 isn’t worth enforcing similar to how we did with alcohol, but I hope that doesn’t happen unless subsequent research shows those concerns about brain development are wrong, which is entirely possible given that there’s a real incentive for studies to provide evidence that justifies criminalisation.

    • emergency mike 6.4

      BM has a point in that there is an older generation that sees weed as a scary dangerous drug, (a generalisation of course). Many of them associate it with the hippy movement of the 60s, which many of them loathed. But IMO even their attitudes are changing as the medical possibilities are starting to become known. In fact many of the medical conditions that can best be helped by weed are the very same conditions that mostly affect older people. So that could be a thing before too long.

      Aside from the electoral issues on cannabis law reform, I’ve always personally found the ‘pot makes you lazy’ argument an interesting one. I didn’t need a scientific study to tell me that pot induces a meditative relaxed calm and a desire to vege and eat potato chips. So what? I should be banned from doing so because, tsk tsk, someone else thinks I’m being lazy? Never mind that television, (it’s an old machine that people used to watch for entertainment), has been shown by plenty of studies to induce laziness by the bucketload. It’s still the go to babysitter of choice for many parents. Won’t someone think of the children! Weird I don’t see anybody getting arrested and put in a cage for sitting down to watch 5 hours a day of channel 2s elevating programming. Unless they’re stoned of course then shit look at all that loss of motivation.

      The fear is that legalisation will lead to young people being lazy en masse. Yet every weekend hordes of young people head out to get drunk on a drug known to cause violence, reckless behavior, rape, car accidents, numerous cancers and other serious diseases, addiction, and overdose. That’s the price of our freedom to enjoy that drug apparently. But hordes of young people sitting around ‘being lazy’? Oh no the horror. I’m just going to go check that my doors are locked.

      There is a cultural element here of course, our parents and theirs grew up with alcohol as just a part of life, but cannabis does not have a tradition in Western society. Thus is the simple fear of the other, the unknown. And indeed the history of how cannabis prohibition was sold the public is racist one. First with Anslinger demonizing Mexican migrant workers and claiming that it was making black men rape white women back in the 30s. Then Nixon’s war on drugs turned out to be a war on drug users. Then it turned out that it was in fact war on Nixon’s political opponents: the anti-war hippies, and the civil rights demanding blacks.

      “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

      This despite, in my own opinion, the state of drunkenness being far more mentally cataclysmic and dangerous than being stoned. Booze can turn you into a different person that makes you do things you wake up regreting including reckless and irresponsible behaviour, weed makes you go buy more potato chips. But weed is scary. Ok…

      I haven’t seen any evidence that there would even be a big jump in you rates of pot smoking after legalisation. I just googled ‘increase pot smoking colorado’, surveys there show that while there has been an unsurprising bump in adult use, teen use is either unchanged or slightly down.

      Of course weed is not harmless, and of course there are and will always be people who over do it, get addicted, and withdraw from life. Same for alcohol, and even TV. But the whole ‘lazyiness’ argument is purely a moralizing one. Some people just don’t approve of the way some other people chose to live their lives.

      On Drugs is a fascinating book by David Lenson where he tries to interpret the contents of the high itself in sociological terms. For cannabis he argues that the experience itself is antithetical to our dominant consumerist culture. Government and industry like to manage our internal world view and desires. Smokers typically find their anxieties about the future replaced with an enjoyment of the present here-and-now moment. And instead of a marketing team implanting a state of mind in a consumer via advertising, that state being the emotion tied desire to buy their product that will make you feel better, the consumer buys cannabis in order to create a state of mind of the consumers own choosing. The product itself is burnt to ash. Thus cannabis is a subversion of the consumerist paradigm. I’m not suggesting that governments have consciously conspired against cannabis for this abstract reason, and I’m not articulating Lenson’s ideas well, but I have often wondered why cannabis has been suppressed against all reason for so long.

      Poll after poll says people want change, so why would politicians be so afraid of electoral reprisal for supporting such change? Look at Justin Trudeau, he went all in with legalisation and won, (admittedly he up against a hated psychopath, but still). I get it, it doesn’t fit with their brand. Times are changing though, thanks Jah.

    • weston 6.5

      Since the “older” generation WAS the “younger” generation i cant see them having a particular problem with it after all pot came into the country in the 50s and fair exploded in popularity in the sixties so………

  7. Tiger Mountain 7

    “time waits for no one…and it won’t wait for me…”

    it is past time for an almighty legal herb up in this country imo but there has to be an age barrier and serious education to that effect and changes to testing/impairment regimes as TRP suggests

    the population bubble of older farts will increasingly focus on what medical marijuana might do for them and perhaps drop a bit of their traditional opposition to legalisation, younger farts–the conservative kids of Roger and Ruth are another matter!

    for many, legal marijuana would no more tempt them than legal opiates would, but it might achieve a number of positives as the US states like Colorado have and not make otherwise law abiding people criminals

  8. Erik Bloodaxe 8

    I think it is sickening that people are still criminalised for using cannabis. The fact it remains illegal is one reason why it could be considered a “gateway drug” – simply because accessing this drug through illegal means provides access to other more sinister drugs such as methamphetamine (“P”). In fact it is well known now that P is more accessible than cannabis in New Zealand. Without wanting to wander too far from the topic I also believe that MDMA (“Ecstacy) should also be decriminalised or legalised. Both tobacco and alcohol are more dangerous to one’s health than either cannabis or MDMA so if any substance should be illegal (based on health consequences and public health considerations) it should be alcohol and tobacco.

    Back to the cannabis debate. It is truly innane and dispicable that cannabis use is illegal. Evidence from decriminalisation in Europe (e.g. Portugal) and the US shows pretty clearly that this action does NOT cause increased recreational use and, in fact, the opposite tends to occur. Further, the use of cannabis that automatically places otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminal is outrageous. If you don’t want to use it that is fine – don’t. But this doesn’t give prohibitionists the right to criminalise users for there drug of choice – especially given that the most common justifcation for prohibition (that is has serious negative health conseqeunces) simply does not hold up to scientific scrutiny.

    While is is great that Mr Little is open to reviewing the legal status for cannabis – why should this wait for another 3 or more years. In that time a large number of otherwise law-abiding citizens will be incarcerated and punished for a reasonably innucuous activity. This is unacceptable but highly predictable given the highly conservative nature of most of the Aotearoa New Zealand population. Sad.

  9. adam 9

    As a person who needs some pain relief on a regular basis, I would prefer it not to be opiate based. I have found historically that medical cannabis in the right strain at a proper dose works wonders. I see like Helen Kelly I’m not the only one who found it in tea form – very useful.

    I always wondered why people worried about the high part. I’ve always found that a very confusing term – for me it was relief, a break from the constant grind of pain. A buzz a lot like endorphins. These days I take opiates because they are legal, I’ve put on weight because you do with these drugs, I don’t sleep well and generally find my skin hates me. There are other side effects which are the worst – but there may be children reading.

    Medical Cannabis is long overdue, to make criminals of our sick and dying just seems churlish to me.

    I think Andrew did well in the interview, and he is right to go for medical cannabis first, before even looking at reform for personal use. I for one would like to see the age for tobacco, alcohol and cannabis set a bit higher than 18, If we are serious about people’s health, then a minimum age of 25 seems to be sensable.

    I’d like to see all medical cannabis to be prescribed by specialist only for those under 25, and GPs for those over 25.

    Cannabis has issues, and most of them come within the brain development period, I say play it safe and keep the age of use higher. Mind you the beer barons will hate any age raise – so we may be at a bit of an impasse. They don’t want to admit beer, wine and spirits do there most damage below 25 as well.

  10. joe90 10

    At least someone’s moving in the right direction.

    The Obama administration is planning to remove a major roadblock to marijuana research, officials said Wednesday, potentially spurring broad scientific study of a drug that is being used to treat dozens of diseases in states across the nation despite little rigorous evidence of its effectiveness.

    The new policy is expected to sharply increase the supply of marijuana available to researchers.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/11/science/obama-administration-set-to-remove-barrier-to-marijuana-research.html?_r=0

    Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is listed alongside heroin and LSD as among the “most dangerous drugs” and has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/federal-reclassification-marijuana-major-impact-medical/story?id=38308268

  11. xanthe 11

    war against drugs==corrupt police==disfunctional judiciary==breakdown of law and order==loss of public confidence in society==increase in use of drugs

    now what was it again about marijuana that was harmefull?

    DO NOT CONDUCT A “WAR” AGAINST A SIGNIFICANT PROPORTION OF YOUR CITIZENS WHO ARE NOT HARMING OTHERS!
    you will destroy society by so doing
    just dont do it ! wont work, never has!

    Full legalisation, proper support, education and include alcohol, meth, tobacco in the same basket

    Criminalisation , wrong tool , job not done , broken tool, criminal subculture !

    Labour is dumb, failed again!

    • North 11.1

      I reckon any district court judge of today who hasn’t smoked dope at some stage in the life always was such a pedant and a social dwarf as to be wholly unsatisfying even dangerous in the role. Ever wondered why it’s rare nowadays for a district court judge to go for the doctor about mere possession ?

  12. Anno1701 12

    “Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica.”

    from a letter written by Lincoln during his presidency to the head of the Hohner Harmonica Company in Germany

  13. xanthe 13

    Or you could just vote for this!

    Cannabis

    The Internet Party recognises that current approaches to cannabis do not work. We will promote an evidence-based approach to cannabis law reform and treat cannabis use as a health issue instead of a criminal issue. We will:

    Immediately legalise medical use of cannabis and set up a licensing system to regulate and administer the cultivation of natural cannabis for medical use.
    Immediately decriminalise personal use of cannabis so that possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal use will no longer carry a criminal penalty.
    Develop and promote a model for regulating the legal production and distribution of cannabis for personal use to enable the taxation of cannabis and the monitoring of its supply.

  14. Cinny 14

    Referendum? Yes please, it would be of more benefit to NZ than one about a flag. Seriously voters would come out in droves for a cannabis law reform referendum. Tie it in with an election like how they did the MMP referendum so it’s less cost to the tax payer, far less than $24 million anyways.

    Alcohol lobbyists will be out in force, even a whisper of possible cannabis reform will speed up their heart rates, the loss of potential income to them will be massive if cannabis is decriminalised or legalised. Many prefer to indulge in cannabis than drink booze, and the lobbyists know it, freaks them out.

    So much more support out there than there has ever been for law reform.

    So many many models of cannabis law reform across the globe now, where does it work best? How can we copy and improve their laws, adopting them for the uniqueness of all NZers?

    Ministry of Health would save so much money, many people would rather consume cannabis than drink, awesome, that will free up A&E a bit.
    Pain relief, all of a sudden we can grow pain relief, that will free up some funds, not as many imported pills will be needed, have a cuppa instead love, a nice bit of cannabis fudge maybe…

    And as humanity evolves in their thinking, NZ could make a very nice cash crop to export off shore as medicine.

    All the local owned and operated cafes, takeaways, bakeries etc will be humming with business.

    Tourism numbers would swell as well.

    Cannabis recreationally is VASTLY different to alcohol, so very very different. It is way way less dangerous high. Aggro fights down the pub are soooo last century, high tea with hooters is much more evolved, crikey you can even remember what happened and act on any eureka moments and change the world.

    Keep it up Andrew Little, you are the next PM of NZ. Work out a good model for the cannabis law reform, do your homework, and screw the old school naysayers and alcohol lobbyists. You can do it and everyone knows it’s time for a change. Hold your head high Sir, way proud of you, you’ve got this.

    • Garibaldi 14.1

      Aw c’mon Cinny –all John Key has to do is offer tax cuts, and bank on the puritans out there. Drug reform has hit a brick wall every time it comes up. I can’t see Little riding to our rescue. His offer of a referendum is just kicking the can down the road.

      • Cinny 14.1.1

        One day the granny next door will grow her own for pain relief. I look forward to her having that opportunity, educated choice is a good thing.

        • Garibaldi 14.1.1.1

          One day….. yes. It should be here today for the likes of Helen Kelly , and if Little had any gumption he’d be campaigning hard for it now.

          • Cinny 14.1.1.1.1

            As well it would totally melt away the P. Many get P because they are unable to get pot. Why is it hard to get… more and more people are using it medicinally. Granny would rather ask someone to pick her up a tinny for her arthritis, than risk the public humiliation of being busted for growing a medicinal plant. So many reasons to have a proper discussion and referendum on the subject, so many.

            NZ wants a leader with some balls, an alpha male would be great thanks, Little is alpha as, he just needs to show it, bugger the old school advisors whom have tiptoed around the subject for way to long. Just do it, all he has to say is… “yes i think a discussion on the topic is long over due, maybe we should look at having a referendum on it”

            May the narrative and momentum stay this time.

  15. Xanthe 15

    i think a referendum would be a really bad idea! Because
    1 we are in this stupid position because we have endured a flood of misinformation, fearmongering, and political manuvering. for the last 4 decades. How will this time be different ?

    Its the wrong question “should we legalise dope” (paraphrased)
    The right questions are. Should recreational drug use be a matter for criminal sanctions? Have criminal sanctions ever been shown to workin such case? What are the real costs to society of these criminal sanctions.

    These are not questions for a referendum thay are factual matters. Government needs to ask these questions, look at the overwhelming body of evidence in each case. And legalise !

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