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Time for a new approach

Written By: - Date published: 9:17 am, September 26th, 2010 - 11 comments
Categories: crime, drugs, law and "order" - Tags:

On Thursday, the 2010 Organised Crime Assessment for New Zealand was released to the public.

Essentially it told us what we already know; we have a problem, we know what the problem is, and we’re failing to solve it. It is time we approached the problem rationally and responsibly.

There is a market within New Zealand for drugs, especially marijuana. When a market pops up there’s two elements that sustain it, supply and demand. We’ve tried to fix each of these issues individually in the past, attempting to cut supply through large public expenditure fighting organised crime, while at the same time trying to lower demand by toughening laws and creating social stigmas. Again, I reiterate that these tactics have been proven to fail. The demand is still there, and organised crime is finding it far too easy to meet it.

We must recognise that the best asset New Zealand has in the fight against the problem of drugs is isolation. New Zealand does not have massive borders for drug cartels to find a thousand ways to smuggle the next big drug across, nor do we have a massive population to make significant importation worthwhile.

Where do we start in the quest for attempting to solve the unsolvable? Look at the current revenue streams of the organised crime syndicates’ who are smuggling these drugs across our borders, a very expensive exercise indeed! These gangs control the marijuana market, giving them a revenue stream that allows them the funding to ensure the harder drugs get across the borders. They also spend a lot on P, having reasonably easy access to the ingredients. Again, this problem props up their ability to delve into further trouble. Still, their main revenue is marijuana, it’s so easy to grow, and despite all the work we put into eradicating P from our streets, we will never eradicate marijuana, and therefore the gangs will never lose this vital revenue.

To solve the problem within our small nation, we must be willing to challenge our own beliefs, and if we do walk down this road, we could end up far better off. Drugs are bad, and in the wrong hands are horrible. They cause harm within the family, the community, and society as a whole, yet these problems cannot be properly addressed while drugs continue to be treated as a taboo. Creating a tightly controlled market with the Government receiving significant revenue streams would allow for the creation of significant support structures for those using the drugs, and begin workable anti-drug campaigns in schools. To repeat the point of this short piece, there is a market, whether people would like to admit it or not, and the Western English speaking way of dealing with this problem is failing. There is no answer within the square we currently circle within.

Great Britain is considering the problem, why should we merely follow the leader, as it would seem is always the case.

Look at the progress we’ve made with tobacco, this progress should be the envy of many countries around the world, an envy that could extend further if we tried.

11 comments on “Time for a new approach ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    NZ apparently has one of the highest rates of methamphetamine use in the world, while also having corresponding low usage of cocaine and heroine. This is generally believed to be because of our isolation and difficulty to get drugs across our borders. Most other countries have long land borders and high populations, whereas NZ generally has to be accessed by air.

    I think legalizing marijuana in NZ would probably lower to reduced usage of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs, more so than in other countries, because we simply don’t have the level of supply of the other drugs that overseas countries do.

  2. prism 2

    It’s Sunday – perhaps someone has written a hymn to “rationally and responsibly” as being an ideal way to think and act. I wish that we could have lots of this combination in politics, mixed with a portion of care and concern.

  3. Certainly the current policies’ greatest success is ensuring a lucrative income stream for organized crime.
    Decriminalization would not only improve treatment outcomes but also eliminate the massive source of income for criminal organizations.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      This.

      I’d also suggest, in relation to:

      Look at the current revenue streams of the organised crime syndicates’…

      Beginning a concerted move to a cashless society.

  4. portia 4

    There was an article in Salon yesterday about the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in California. Biggest opponents? The liquor lobby. God forbid that the drug they sell should have to compete on a level playing field with weed.

    It isn’t all about organized crime.

    http://www.salon.com/life/drugs/index.html?story=/opinion/feature/2010/09/24/sirota_marijuana_legalization

    • the sprout 4.1

      true enough.
      and of course the liquor industry has always had society’s best interests at heart

    • redeye 4.2

      You could argue, although I probably wouldn’t, that the liquor industries have sort of right to lobby to protect their markets.

      More worryingly though, are the interest their law enforcement agencies are showing.

      “Public Safety First is largely funded by a different industry whose interests are threatened by the legalization of marijuana: law enforcement. Police forces are entitled to keep property seized as part of drug raids and the revenue stream that comes from waging the drug war has become a significant source of support for local law enforcement. Federal and state funding of the drug war is also a significant supplement to local forces’ budgets.

      The California Narcotics Officers’ Association has donated $20,500; the California Police Chiefs Association has contributed $30,000. The Placer County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, the California Peace Officers Association, the California District Attorney Association and the Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles County have all contributed, as well. Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca has been an outspoken opponent. Earlier this months, current and former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration held a press conference in Washington to oppose the proposition and urge the White House to sue to stop it if it passes. “

  5. prism 5

    Yesterday there was a radionz report from an addiction centre in USA that backed the illegality approach to drugs as use grows faster when legalised.
    I thought well, if they are only thinking with a silo mentality that would make sense.

    But the role of illegality of drugs in the growth of criminal opportunities that is caused and the way it skewa police attention and their integrity personally and professionally as they form their evidence for court cases is like a chronic disease afflicted on the community. I would imagine that legalising of marijuana would cause an immediate rise in usage, but that would settle. We would still have to provide education against its use, which could be done by the healthy living, anti-tobacco agencies but some of the criminals income would wither.

    The hard drugs like meth and P would continue, but the market for under the counter marijuana would shrink – cut out kids selling at school!

    • J. Andel 5.1

      You think usage will rise, but New Zealand already has some of the highest rates for drug use in the world already. After Portugal, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Mexico and many states in the U.S. have already decriminalised use.
      I’d love to read the stats on how much cannabis is gang grown though, and what the definition used for gang is. I know the Police and ACT, and I’ve noticed Jim Anderton doing it too – stressing tinny houses and gangs, but informal surveys (it’s pretty hard to get people to be honest in a formal one) seems to show that people get it from people they know that grow. I’d love to be able to say the same thing, but I can’t trace where it comes from because the person who grew it would probably be ratted out by someone.

  6. RedLogix 6

    Drugs are bad, and in the wrong hands are horrible. They cause harm within the family, the community, and society as a whole, yet these problems cannot be properly addressed while drugs continue to be treated as a taboo.

    We are a drug addled society. People find life here in NZ so miserable they need them to function. But the drugs mask out this truth so that we never challenge the root cause of our collective misery.

    Which means that there is far too much powerful vested interest in the status quo for anything to change easily.

    In the the long run matters will continue getting worse. Another generation and it will become so bad that we will face the choice of taking effective action against drugs, or simply surrender into total degeneracy.

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