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.
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.