Time for progress on drug law

Written By: - Date published: 10:37 am, March 31st, 2016 - 81 comments
Categories: crime, drugs, education, health, law, peter dunne - Tags: , , , , , ,

Drugs are in the news:

Medical experts call for global drug decriminalisation

International commission urges complete reversal of repressive drug policies imposed by most governments

An international commission of medical experts is calling for global drug decriminalisation, arguing that current policies lead to violence, deaths and the spread of disease, harming health and human rights.

The commission, set up by the Lancet medical journal and Johns Hopkins University in the United States, finds that tough drugs laws have caused misery, failed to curb drug use, fuelled violent crime and spread the epidemics of HIV and hepatitis C through unsafe injecting.

“The global ‘war on drugs’ has harmed public health, human rights and development. It’s time for us to rethink our approach to global drug policies, and put scientific evidence and public health at the heart of drug policy discussions.” …

RIP the “War on Drugs”, and good riddance. Here in NZ, in welcome news:

Govt may soften approach to drugs – Dunne

The government is considering taking a more tolerant approach to minor drug offences, says Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.

Mr Dunne told Morning Report today he was not sure New Zealand’s drug law was still fit-for-purpose and he wanted drugs to be viewed as more of a health issue.

So we’ve moved on from John Key’s stupid “War on P” then? Good. I bet the police think so too: Decriminalised drugs would hit gangs – Police Association.

This new realism is, sadly, the sort of progress only a right-wing government can propose. If Labour did it the right / media would go full spittle ballistic with “soft on crime!!!” rhetoric. Maybe Peter Dunne has copped a bit of pressure from the media along these lines, if this grumpy press release is anything to go by: The furore over drug policy.

Anyway, this new realism should be welcomed, encouraged, and expedited. As part of which – how about fixing the antiquated law / process around medicinal cannabis? As a certain Helen Kelly puts it, #apersoncoulddiewaiting.


Peter Dunne and Kevin Hague – a good discussion in Parliament:

81 comments on “Time for progress on drug law”

  1. esoteric pineapples 1

    Has anyone noticed that when there is a news story on TV One or Three about legalising marijuana (or something similar) they always have grotesque images of people smoking pot like last night when a guy puffed it out of his mouth and it went up his nose, or sucking on big dirty bongs. You never get images of people just sitting round puffing on a joint in a pleasant environment listening to good music for example, like you would a glass of wine.

  2. Sabine 2

    The Greens, The Labour party they should and could stand up and argue for a softening of the current laws. Mike Hoskins may throw a tantrum, but then he is paid for throwing tantrums – that is about the only thing he is good at. And let the other parties be there explaining their dinosour attitude to dealing with drug dependency (and that includes prescription drugs!)

    IF the Labour and the Greens do not stand up then maybe they should go and find their guts, spine and brains. Cause to change our current system is smart and cost effective. Legalizing medicinal and recreational pot would create jobs, raise tax revenue, might even reduce alcohol related violence cause usually pot heads are not known for throwing punches.

    • esoteric pineapples 2.1

      The Greens have had as one of their policies the decriminalisation of marijuana for years. It was raised again by the media at the last election and the Greens stood by the policy. If people aren’t aware of that, and many other Green Party polices, it is because the main stream media rarely canvases the Green Party’s views on most things other than the environment. Even Colin Craig was ahead of the two Green Party leaders in survey of the number of images of party leaders at the last election

      Shock Horror media bias exists in New Zealand

      • the pigman 2.1.1

        Please see the comment by Hague in the article linked below. GP don’t have a position on the decriminalisation of cannabis

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          yes they do.

          https://home.greens.org.nz/policy/drug-law-reform-policy-towards-harm-reduction-model

          5. Cannabis specific initiatives

          The Green Party will:

          Eliminate penalties for personal cannabis use for people aged 18 years and over.

          Introduce a legal age limit of 18 years for personal cannabis use (this is consistent with alcohol). Those under 18 found in possession of cannabis would be treated in a way that is consistent with the Government’s 2002 Youth Development Strategy.

          Define in law the limits on growing cannabis for personal use.

          Ensure it remains an offence to drive while under the influence of cannabis.

          Ensure that cannabis smoking is covered in the Smokefree Environments Act.

          Commercial cultivation and trading of marijuana for profit would remain illegal, and areas currently relying on large scale illegal cultivation for their income will be assisted in making a transition to other work

    • weka 2.2

      “The Greens, The Labour party they should and could stand up and argue for a softening of the current laws.”

      Maybe you should inform yourself on what those parties are currently doing.

      • Sabine 2.2.1

        i do, i was answering to the post – to this part in particular :

        This new realism is, sadly, the sort of progress only a right-wing government can propose. If Labour did it the right / media would go full spittle ballistic with “soft on crime!!!” rhetoric.

        And I also believe that both parties – especially in regards to the issue that Helen Kelly is facing, and that obviously other prominent NZ’lers have broken then law before dying by using Weed Products to alleviate pain – could be a bit more noisy about it, and not be afraid about standing noisly and upright for their policies.

        That is actually all that I have said. Namely that standing proud and loud for decriminalization would be a win, and not a loss for the parties on the left, and could be just another one of these policies that both can work together as a coalition or government in waiting.

        It is nice tho that they have in their policies, now they can start campaigning on it.

        • weka 2.2.1.1

          What was Kevin Hague doing in parliament yesterday?

          • Sabine 2.2.1.1.1

            Stop splitting hair weka. There is nothing offensive in my post, so please don’t try to be offensive or offended. .

            I gave a reasonable response to a good post.

            If Kevin Hague was being noisy yesterday in parliament, good. He can be noisy now everyday until we have gotten that issue sorted.
            Cause frankly the last time i remember the Greens to be very open about decriminalising Weed was when Nandor Tanczos was in the news. and taht was a long time ago.

            • weka 2.2.1.1.1.1

              I’m not offended. I”m pointing out that the GP did what you thought they weren’t doing.

              • the pigman

                Hi weka,

                If the GP position is as you say, how do you explain this?

                “”The Green Party is currently reviewing its own policy on drug law reform but has not reached a position on the decriminalisation of cannabis.”

                The Government may loosen its approach to some minor drug offences
                http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/78385907/The-Government-may-loosen-its-approach-to-some-minor-drug-offences?cid=app-iPhone

                • weka

                  I don’t believe I have said anything about the GP position on drugs. I just pointed out to Sabine that they had asked a bunch of questions in parliament yesterday, as it said in the post.

                  Hague, from your link (always good to see things in context),

                  “Outside the house, Hague said the Greens would welcome cross-party work on evidence-based drug law reform.

                  “It is fantastic to hear that the Government is considering regulating drugs in terms of their potential for harm,” Hague said.

                  “The evidence points to a complete failure on the war on drugs style approach. If we are looking to decrease harm and decrease supply, the evidence is that the war on drugs has failed.

                  “The Green Party is currently reviewing its own policy on drug law reform but has not reached a position on the decriminalisation of cannabis.”

                  And the GP policy, for those that want to be informed 😉 Note, they file it it in their Health section,

                  https://home.greens.org.nz/policy/drug-law-reform-policy-towards-harm-reduction-model

                  The cannabis bit,

                  5. Cannabis specific initiatives

                  The Green Party will:

                  Eliminate penalties for personal cannabis use for people aged 18 years and over.

                  Introduce a legal age limit of 18 years for personal cannabis use (this is consistent with alcohol). Those under 18 found in possession of cannabis would be treated in a way that is consistent with the Government’s 2002 Youth Development Strategy.

                  Define in law the limits on growing cannabis for personal use.

                  Ensure it remains an offence to drive while under the influence of cannabis.

                  Ensure that cannabis smoking is covered in the Smokefree Environments Act.

                  Commercial cultivation and trading of marijuana for profit would remain illegal, and areas currently relying on large scale illegal cultivation for their income will be assisted in making a transition to other work.

                  Looking at Hague’s statement, I would hazard a guess that policy is going through a review but they haven’t reached any conclusions yet.

                  • the pigman

                    That’s one unpackaging of Hague’s comment, but even assuming it’s spot on, there’s enough ambiguity in the Greens current position to make your jumping down Sabine’s throat look rather uncalled for.

                    Given what a hot political topic this is now, it feels like a missed opportunity to lead the debate.

                    Thank goodness for Helen Kelly, Russell Brown and John Campbell.

                    • weka

                      I just find it interesting that people who aren’t active in parties put up demands that parties do x, y, z, without actually thinking about it from the party’s perspective. I can think of some good reasons why the GP wouldn’t want to lead the charge on this at this time. Ditto Labour. I expect both of them will do something on medical use.

                      On twitter this morning the GP were focussed on increasing the refugee quota. I can’t say that I have a problem with them prioritising that.

                      btw, it’s also possible that Hague did a Labour in his comment. Myself I don’t care that much because I think the Greens have enough on their plates as it is.

                      Edit, it’s also possible that his comment was taken out of context.

                    • the pigman

                      How do you know Sabine or I aren’t “active” in a political party?

                      As far as I can see, he was calling for Labour to act too. And I totally endorse him on that. Unfortunately, in Labour you only get people who are relatively on the fringes like Iain Lees-Galloway even talking about these issues.

                      The great chunk of followers/hollowmen just keep their mouths shut, stand behind dear leader and shout “Jobs, jobs, jobs, UB— uhh, oops, we meant jobs?”

                      From what I can see from the outside, Shaw’s GP is starting to look more like that too.

                      I also think stoically insisting an Election Year 2011 article represents their current policy, when the MP leading this issue has said they haven’t reached a view on the decriminalisation of cannabis, is being a little bit… colourblind.

                      Anyway, the wind of public opinion would be behind the GP waka on this should they choose to set sail in that direction. Let’s hope they do.

                    • weka

                      “How do you know Sabine or I aren’t “active” in a political party?”

                      Educated guess.

                      Did you watch the video? Hague has just been asking questions in the House on moving forward on drug law reform, and Dunne agreed to working cross-party.

                      As far as I can see, he was calling for Labour to act too. And I totally endorse him on that. Unfortunately, in Labour you only get people who are relatively on the fringes like Iain Lees-Galloway even talking about these issues.

                      The great chunk of followers/hollowmen just keep their mouths shut, stand behind dear leader and shout “Jobs, jobs, jobs, UB— uhh, oops, we meant jobs?”

                      Sure, and that just takes me back to my point before. If you want Labour to make drugs a priority, you probably should get involved in the party. Because it doesn’t look like a priority to me and I think expecting that kind of party to pick this up off their own bat is unrealistic. Labour are doing work on medical cannabis.

                      “From what I can see from the outside, Shaw’s GP is starting to look more like that too.”

                      Look a bit harder. If you think the GP is all about jobs, you’re seriously missing what they are doing.

                      “I also think stoically insisting an Election Year 2011 article represents their current policy, when the MP leading this issue has said they haven’t reached a view on the decriminalisation of cannabis, is being a little bit… colourblind.”

                      What I do know about the GP is that individual MPs don’t decide policy on their own. It has to go through a process. The GP publish their policy on their website. If that page was last updated in 2011 it means that it is their current policy and hasn’t been changed since then.

                      “Anyway, the wind of public opinion would be behind the GP waka on this should they choose to set sail in that direction. Let’s hope they do.”

                      If you mean drug law reform in general, I’d like to see something to back up your idea that public opinion would be behind it. Medical cannabis, definitely. Decriminalising cannabis maybe (apparently 50% support). Full drug law reform? I’d say significantly less than 50%. Yes, work should be done on this, but from listening to the video it sounds like it already is.

                    • weka

                      Health Minister out of step on drug law
                      Kevin Hague MP on Thursday, March 31, 2016 – 13:34

                      Health Minister Jonathan Coleman’s kneejerk opposition to changing the legal status of cannabis is out of step with the Police Association and a growing international consensus that current drug laws aren’t working, the Green Party said today.

                      The Police Association this morning said updating our drug laws could be a way of reducing gang crime. This followed a major review by the Lancet and Johns Hopkins University that found that the world-wide ‘war on drugs’ has caused more harm than good.

                      “Jonathan Coleman is totally out of step with what the world-wide evidence shows is needed to keep people safe, and what the Police, the Law Commission, treatment agencies and many others say is the reality on the ground,” said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.

                      “This shows the need for Parliament to come together in a non-partisan approach to reducing the harm of drugs, through law reform focussed first on public health.

                      “The Drug Foundation today described how the Police have adopted a de-facto decriminalisation stance, by not prosecuting minor drug crimes.

                      “Drug law reform would help tackle organised crime by removing a source of revenue, while also reducing harm to people who use drugs.

                      “The Green Party wants to work with all parties on changing outdated drug laws that penalise petty offenders and don’t address the causes of drug harm.

                      “By not listening to those who work in the sector and know the issues, Dr Coleman is not working in the interests of the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. It also runs the risk that the Misuse of Drugs Act will become another law that reflects the fossilised attitudes of the past, and hinders rather than helps treatment and enforcement agencies” said Mr Hague.

                      https://www.greens.org.nz/news/press-release/health-minister-out-step-drug-law

                      So what’s your objection to that?

                      edit, Hague’s quote appears to be from this Press Release yesterday,

                      https://www.greens.org.nz/news/press-release/drug-law-reform-health-issue

                    • the pigman

                      Well, as you yourself have said, the quote from Hague about the GP not [having] reached a position on the decriminalisation of cannabis comes from their press release on their website itself. What’s a person to do? Take that as their current position, or their article published in 2011 as the position? Not having reached a position on decriminalisation sounds like not having reached a position to me.

                      I was referring to cannabis law reform, and not just for medicinal purposes either. Focusing one-eyedly on medical cannabis might be the easier option, but if you look at a jurisdiction like California that is medical only (at this stage), you realise that (while there are genuine patients who are greatly assisted by cannabis to treat ailments resistant to other medicines) the greater proportion of medical card holders are treating – how to put it politely – less unusual ailments. Worth it to walk down Venice Beach one day and see all the docs who have set up shop with attached dispensaries they own and dudes pimping for ailments outside (literally touting for business, I saw a topless black dude in shiny gold pants with a giant python around his neck shouting “Do you suffer from any of the following ailments? Depression, insomnia, headaches, muscle stiffness, etc.etc.etc, then COME ON IN and see DOCTOR KUSH!”). My buddy went in and was out with his medical card and cannabis in less than 20 minutes, having told the good doctor he was on holiday from NZ but couldn’t sleep without cannabis. It sort of makes a farce of the whole medical thing, which is not really ideal.

                      Anyway, you refer to the polling, Russell Brown breaks down the demographics and voting behaviour from the UMR research and it is insightful stuff for policy makers. I think a “hopey-changey” campaign could easily take the public with it the whole way to regulation: http://publicaddress.net/hardnews/umr-medpot-and-the-public/

                      EDIT: btw, don’t assume. Despite living abroad, I am up-to-date on my Labour membership fees and quite often e-mail Labour MPs, many of whom are kind enough to respond. As an Auckland Central voter, I raised this with Jacinda in May 2014 and she responded in detail:

                      “Dear [the pigman]

                      Thanks for your email, I’ve been receiving quite a few of them!

                      Firstly, I should point out that drug legislation is a conscience vote; however Labour believes that drug use and addiction are health matters and not just criminal justice matters.

                      You mentioned the Law Commission report; Labour supports a full scale review of the current drug classification system including addressing existing inconsistencies and focusing on assessing a drug’s risk of harm, including social harm (amongst other things). A Labour government will publish a full response to the report – something that National has failed to do. We will also replace the Misuse of Drugs Act with modern legislation based on the recommendations of the Law Commission.

                      In terms of medicinal cannabis, Labour supports further investigation into this subject. We believe that the current prescribing of pharmaceutical derivatives of cannabis (such as Sativex) and the costs of this are unnecessarily restrictive. The last time a Member’s Bill on the issue of medicinal cannabis was debated in Parliament, I voted in favour of the Bill.

                      Thanks again for your email – I hope this reply was of some help!

                      Yours Sincerely
                      Jacinda Ardern

                      Jacinda Ardern | Labour List MP based in Auckland Central
                      Labour Party Spokesperson for Children
                      Spokesperson for Police and Corrections
                      Spokesperson for Arts, Culture and Heritage
                      Wgtn: +64 4 817 9388 | Ak +64 9 360 1641
                      http://www.jacinda.co.nz

                    • weka

                      Dude, I’ve already explained what I think is going on with the discrepancy between Hague’s statement and the GP policy. Hague is working FOR reform. What else do you want? If you have a problem with the inconsistency why not ask him for clarification. I don’t see anything in his statement or the GP material that suggests they are against reform, or that they aren’t working on this now.

                      Good luck with Labour. Probably the only thing I will say on that is you are probably in the wrong party if you want drug law reform to happen fast. Although I think Labour will get on board the more other people do the work. Which is fine, Labour don’t have to spearhead everything.

                      edit, have we established that both parties are doing useful things, albeit not as big and fast as some would want?

                    • the pigman

                      Hi weka,

                      Sorry, it was rude of me not to reply. Yes, I agree both Labour and the Greens, or at least certain proactive MPs in both parties, are doing something. But this is *sniff* Helen Kelly’s last big campaign (which is not to say she has stepped away from Health and Safety – she hasn’t) and I’d love to see both parties standing next to her til the end and honouring her work in that way. They do not have much time to do so.

                      Now for something we agree on – that capitalists and private equity will fuck cannabis legalisation in any way they can. As part of my non-political enrichment, I was reading The Pantograph Punch today (http://pantograph-punch.com/) and stumbled upon an excellent article on Kim Dotcom and the making of his vanity project (Good Times). The article is interesting in itself: http://pantograph-punch.com/post/madness-and-mayhem-of-making-good-times (not even vaguely one-eyed, gives quite a lot of insight into DotCom’s MO).

                      Anyway, I got to the bottom of the article to find this kind of triumvirate of concern trolls (two are WhaleOil regulars, and the other guy, Alex Mardikian, was previously connected with DotCom who turned on him, provided material for articles by Slater (Whale oil link: http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/tag/alex-mardikian/) and Rachel Glucina (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11227811) slamming DotCom.

                      ANYWAY, point is the dude Mardikian now works as CMO for Northsight Capital, Inc., a Private Equity investment company that invests in legal cannabis business (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/northsight-capital-inc-announces-hiring-new-chief-marketing-officer-alex-mardikian-300018876.html and http://www.northsightcapital.com/investors/).

                      Big Weed will be just as brutal as Big Tobacco, especially with scumbags like Alex Mardikian involved. The key to regulation will be ensuring that people can grow their own and keep the money from trickling up from gangs or (worse) PE.

                    • the pigman

                      Hi weka,

                      Just to let you know that I did respond to you in some depth, but my comment has vanished.. hopefully just into moderation for now.

                      TTYL.

                      [Yes it was now released – MS]

        • weka 2.2.1.2

          What was Kevin Hague doing in parliament yesterday?

  3. Anno1701 3

    IMO decrim is half measure and leads to confusion and undermines law and order

    “yeah its still illegal, but we are not actually going to do anything about it ”

    Plus it gives no reason to release all the prisoners currently locked up for cannabis “crimes”.
    It also creates a situation where the users are penalised where as producers ( growers) and distributors are , that makes no sense and is the biggest problem with the “dutch system of decriminalization , The dutch call it the “frontdoor-back door” problem

    i say full legalization & regulation !!!

    • weka 3.1

      I’d prefer decriminalisation for personal use and sharing, than handing cannabis to the capitalists to fuck with.

      Medical use should be fully legalised. Not sure what degree of control their should be though, that will be the sticking point, esp if recreational use is later decriminalised.

      • Anno1701 3.1.1

        “I’d prefer decriminalisation for personal use and sharing”

        but then who is going to actually grow it for you ?

        anyone who does so would still face criminal penalties and that just isnt fair IMO

        • weka 3.1.1.1

          Decriminalisation can include growing and sharing small amounts.

          • Anno1701 3.1.1.1.1

            “Decriminalization or decriminalisation is the LESSENING of criminal penalties in relation to certain acts,”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decriminalization

            the key there is LESSENING, not REMOVAL

            yes it would be better than the current situation, but still only a half measure and wouldn’t allow the REAL benefits of the plant to be utilized by society IMO

            • weka 3.1.1.1.1.1

              I seriously doubt that NZ would make it completely legal. You suggested that it be regulated, which is basically a different version of criminalisation, one that favours business not users.

              What could happen is that the govt legalises it and puts it completely in the control of commerce and big pharma. I don’t see how that enables the real benefits to be utilised by society. I’d prefer legalising so that people can grow for their own use and sharing, alongside developement of medicines.

              We could do both (regulate for commerce and users), but I think there is signifcatn danger that we won’t.

              • Colonial Viper

                I seriously doubt that NZ would make it completely legal. You suggested that it be regulated, which is basically a different version of criminalisation, one that favours business not users.

                Lots of things are regulated in ways which have little to do with favouring business. Want a license to drive or fish or a certificate to install a fireplace?

                • weka

                  Yes, but I think a more likely comparison is to be made with alcohol and tobacco.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    We can always choose an appropriate framing to start the discussion from, not go with the most likely default framing.

                    • weka

                      True. My own position is that I think it’s better to decriminalise first, and free up medical use from homegrown and pharmaceutical grade medicines. Put other structures in place at the same time, including education on harm minimisation, funding into research and funding into addiction treatment.

                      I’m not entirely convinced that freely available cannabis won’t equate to increased use and increased problematic use. I don’t think in NZ we’re that good at dealing with altering consciousness or dealing with addiction.

                      There’s been some pretty stupid shit happening in places like Colorado where they opened things up quickly eg selling cannabis in the form of lollies. Guess who ODs on them? (anyone who thinks you can’t take too much cannabis doesn’t know what they are talking about).

                      http://www.childrenscolorado.org/conditions-symptoms/conditions/acute-marijuana-intoxication

                      That’s not a case against decriminalisation, it’s a case against letting commerce do whatever it wants.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Personally I think that marijuana should be a legal but highly regulated R21 product.

                  • Mike S

                    You can legally make your own alcohol and grow your own tobacco so I don’t see how he government could put cannabis, which is very very easy to grow, completely in the control of “commerce and big pharma”?

                    The only way they could do that would be to keep cultivation of cannabis illegal for individuals but legal for big pharma. I can’ see he public accepting that.

                    • gsays

                      hi mike s, you highlight the point well;

                      “You can legally make your own alcohol and grow your own tobacco so I don’t see how he government could put cannabis, which is very very easy to grow, completely in the control of “commerce and big pharma”?”
                      …and yet both are in the control, in terms of volume consumed, in the hands of the corporations.

                      there was a good brief discussion on media take on pot.
                      the salient point it took from it was to keep it out of the hands of the corporations- not to promote, glamourize, or profit from the weed.

                      i suppose the crux of this is $.
                      when it is grown for the idea of sharing then you remove most problems.

    • Sabine 3.2

      the dutch system is actually quite good.

      Producers/Growers have to apply for a licenses and are under strict regulations and controls.

      Retailers have to apply for a license and are under strict regulations and controls.

      Users have the right to carry up to 5 grams on them, consume openly in Coffee Shops, buy seeds and grow their own (not sure about the amount of plants tho).

      Users have to be over 18 to enter a coffee shop and use, and coffee shop owner/staff caught to selling under 18’s will be given a handy fine, a stiff warning, and if caught again will be closed.

      You can try and buy weed on the streets anywhere in Holland and people will simply look at you as if you were mad. The same applies to Mushrooms and other ‘natural’ plants.

      However, don’t get caught with Cocaine, Heroin, P and the likes, you will get locked up immediately.
      To boot, if bad hard drugs are doing the rounds in clubs often there are warning posters, try doing that in NZ – oh my the holier then thou brigade would pull their hair out and clutch their pearls in despair.

      And yes, btw, Hollands prisons currently are so empty they are renting ‘bed’ space to the Norvegians at the moment. But then where would be our Profit driven Prison System if we had no prisoners?

      • Anno1701 3.2.1

        “Producers/Growers have to apply for a licenses and are under strict regulations and controls.’

        that’s incorrect , it is still VERY illegal to grow cannabis for commercial purposes in the Netherlands, In fact the police have a very intense eradication programme

        http://ggs-greenhouse.com/marijuana/blog/growing-cannabis-netherlands-illegal

        Personal possession of Cannabis is also ILLEGAL in the Netherlands, it is only “tolerated” by the law

        Growing for personal use is also illegal and the police WILL seize your plants and fine you (depending on the number of plants )

        “However, don’t get caught with Cocaine, Heroin, P and the likes, you will get locked up immediately.”

        The Dutch Govt actually supply their registered addicts with heroin through a clinic system, its quite difficult to find a junkie under 45 in the Netherlands, unless they are from another country

        • Sabine 3.2.1.1

          thanks Anno, i thought it was regulated supply – for some reason. I know that it is only tolerated, however having lived in the Netherlands for a few years i have never come across a cop who would have arrested someone for use or possession unless really you had an ounce or two on them, tried to hustle it or otherwise made a nuisance of it.

          Growing is tolerated up to five plants – irrespective of size. I am quite sure about this 🙂 .

          Having watched tourists get arrested by the droves trying to get hard drugs i can assure they are not getting a soft approach from the local cops.

          Funny enough i never met a dutch Junkie, met a few german/french/italian/us/uk junkies in my time there, but never a dutchie, nor did the dutchies strike my as big tokers.

          i have however seen the local dutch Police be very strict in enforcing the rules re the Coffee Shop, and I must say my local Coffee Shop owner in Hilvershum/Utrecht was very uptight about adhering to the rules. They were not to be messed with. IF you were asked for ID and you did not have any on you , you were not getting in and you were not getting served. Full stop.

          • Anno1701 3.2.1.1.1

            Thats ok ! I lived in the Netherlands for a few years myself

            “i thought it was regulated supply” it should be ! The dutch call it the “front door/back door” problem , as in the cannabis is tolerated going out the front door, but not coming in the back door

            I know a young fellow who was actually jailed for being a coffee-shop “runner” he was responsible for keeping the coffee shops supplied as they are only allowed to keep under a certain amount on-site (under 500g from memory) so need constant delivery’s to stay open , he was arrested for possession of commercial quantity’s of hash and cannabis and sent to prison for 3 months , he spent thosr three months making cardboard furniture!

            We briefly lived just outside Tillburg, the coffee shops were very strictly there too due to the proximity to the border with Belgium

          • Anno1701 3.2.1.1.2

            heres a little reading if you are interested in the issues the dutch system has

            http://www.talkingdrugs.org/netherlands-paradox-cannabis-policy-front-door

            • Sabine 3.2.1.1.2.1

              cheers. will do. It has been a while since i was back there, bout 15 odd years or tho. Time flies.

              • gsays

                hi sabine/anno,
                back in the 90s, on the o.e., i had a chat with a dutch constable and the way he put it was the police tolerated pot as it was not in societies’ best interests to bust stoners.

                i find that hard to argue with.

                honestly, i am yet to hear a good reason for the status of pot in law, a reason that rings true.

                thanks bill hicks.

  4. adam 4

    Did people not read the above, its a call for the end on the war on drugs.

    ALL DRUGS.

    Not just marijuana, but all of them.

    Drugs are a medical issue, and I’m sure I will go blue in the face before the majority of people get that simple message.

    On the hard on crime buzz. You have to be soft on crime to keep drugs illegal. Why I hear you ask? Simply, drugs are a major revenue stream for organised crime, and to keep it illegal, is being soft on organised crime.

    Do people know that a native plant is the best cure for heroine addiction? Nope? Go on look it up, it’s hard to find, because it’s a criminal offence to give someone this drug to cure them of the addiction to heroin. I also believe I would be committing an offence to even mention it by name – this may have changed, but I won’t risk it. Ultimately, this is how stupid the war on drugs has become.

    Time to end the farce

    • weka 4.1

      “Do people know that a native plant is the best cure for heroine addiction?”

      I think the rhetoric on both sides of the war debate is unhelpful. Addiction is a complex thing, and what works for people is going to vary according to many many aspects of their lives and their addiction. Statements like the one above are going to turn off the mainstream in the same way that statements like cannabis is a gateway drug turn reformers off.

      “I also believe I would be committing an offence to even mention it by name”

      Why would it be illegal?

    • Anno1701 4.2

      “ALL DRUGS”

      i agree completely, IMO if you legalised MDMA and cannabis most other drugs would very quickly fall from favour, mostly because compared to those two they are all pretty s**t

      • Lanthanide 4.2.1

        And LSD. And amyl nitrite.

        • Anno1701 4.2.1.1

          “amyl nitrite.”

          yeah i dunno, that stuff is pretty toxic man

          , I mean its illegal to have over certain level of nitrates in beef due to toxicity

          let a one shoving poppers up your nose all night ….

          LSD i can get i board with, but more as a “theraputic” substance , mind you MDMA is great for therapy as well !

          • Lanthanide 4.2.1.1.1

            There’s a long usage of amyl nitrite without any real negative effects.

            It does reduce blood pressure though, and when used with other medications that reduce blood pressure (like viagra) it can result in dangerously low blood pressure levels, including death (one man has died from this). But as long as you know that, it’s safe.

            The replacements for amyl are actually much less safe, with symptoms including long-lasting lung irritation and damage to the blood vessels in the eyes.

            Another case where the most effective drug, that is illegal, is forcing people to use unsafe substitutes (which are legal, or more accurately, not yet illegal in NZ).

            Btw, it’s used as the cure for cyanide poisoning.

            • Anno1701 4.2.1.1.1.1

              Its also great for Angina !

              but i certainly wouldn’t say its particularly safe

              “Health risks: Anybody who suffers from circulatory problems or from low blood pressure should be particularly wary of this substance. Using poppers can be a serious health risk for those with heart trouble, breathing problems, or anaemia and glaucoma. Always wash off any amyl that spills on your skin and never drink the stuff – it is highly poisonous.”

              http://www.urban75.com/Drugs/drugamyl.html

              To be fair though you are correct the common substitute ( butyl nitrate ) is a lot more toxic again

      • Mike S 4.2.2

        +100

    • joe90 4.3

      I also believe I would be committing an offence to even mention it by name – this may have changed, but I won’t risk it.

      meh, for years Ibogaine has been touted as a one stop opiate dependency cure. It’s not.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibogaine

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/71001181/Clinic-failed-woman-who-died-after-treatment-on-experimental-drug

      http://www.myeboga.org/fatalities.html

      • adam 4.3.1

        No it is not ibogaine, and no it’s not a panacea.

        It only really works for morphine. As it replicates a very similar chemical reaction in the brain, that morphine produces. It will not work for everyone.

        Plus I agree, ibogaine, is a tricky drug. It works for some, but as you said joe90 any drug which says its a wonder cure should really be questioned. Especially as drugs produce different biochemical reactions in people, by that definition alone there can never be a panacea for drug dependency.

        • joe90 4.3.1.1

          It only really works for morphine

          .

          Morphine is one of a number of alkaloids in raw opium and the precursor in the manufacture of most opioids.
          /

  5. NZJester 5

    While dealers and those smuggling drugs should be prosecuted, those who are purchasing the drugs for personal use should not be prosecuted unless they are behind the wheel of a car or truck etc. and are impaired by drugs.
    Possession of illegal drugs for supply should stay a crime but not possession of illegal drugs for personal use.

    • Andre 5.1

      That proposal helps eliminate the ridiculous practice of throwing people in prison for simply enjoying some strange substance at no harm to anyone else. So it’s a small step in the right direction.

      But it does nothing to reduce the way criminal enterprise gains enormous profit and power from selling illegal drugs. It does nothing to reduce the harm from criminals trying to push harder drugs onto their cannabis customers. It does nothing to ensure drugs don’t get mixed with dangerous substances either through poor manufacturing or deliberate addition. It does nothing to reduce the harm from clandestine P labs.

      Only full legalisation and regulation of trade addresses those problems.

      • joe90 5.1.1

        It does nothing to reduce the harm from criminals trying to push harder drugs onto their cannabis customers.

        This is up there with dealers lacing weed with smack to get their customers addicted.
        After forty plus years indulging in better living through pharmaceuticals I have never once encountered anyone trying to push harder drugs onto their cannabis customers.

        • Andre 5.1.1.1

          That part of my comment cheerfully withdrawn on the testimony of someone with better local knowledge than mine.

    • Anno1701 5.2

      “While dealers and those smuggling drugs should be prosecuted, those who are purchasing the drugs for personal use should not be prosecuted”

      why ? that makes no sense at all & would do nothing to reduce crime as it will leave the supply ( the most lucrative part) in the hands of organized crime

  6. Pasupial 6

    The 3rd paragraph in the linked Guardian article goes:

    Publishing its report on the eve of a special session of the United Nations devoted to illegal narcotics, it urges a complete reversal of the repressive policies imposed by most governments.

    The UNGASS is a very important consideration in this. Our drug policy is a response to US post-alcohol prohibition era pressure, rather than a homegrown initiative. I can’t see NZ making a move towards relaxing drug laws before they do, especially under the current right-wing government.

    At the joint request of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala, the General Assembly decided to bring forward the convention of a special session to assess “the achievements and challenges in countering the world drug problem”, originally foreseen for 2019 or 2020… A growing group of Latin American and Caribbean countries are calling for a real discussion on alternative policies. In the meantime, Uruguay has moved to create the world’s first national legally regulated cannabis market for recreational use, and similar initiatives have happened in the US at the state level. This opening up of the long entrenched and seemingly immovable discussion on prohibitionist drug control principles is unprecedented and has implications for global policy.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/drugpolicy/ann-fordham-martin-jelsma/will-ungass-2016-be-beginning-of-end-for-war-on-drugs

    The wording of the official webpage for the event is fairly dry and procedural (but perhaps someone here can decipher it?):

    http://www.unodc.org/ungass2016/

    • Mike S 6.1

      “At the joint request of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala, the General Assembly decided to bring forward the convention of a special session to assess “the achievements and challenges in countering the world drug problem””

      The world drug problem is that drugs are too expensive and too difficult to get and often too dangerous due to impurities or substitutions. Legalizing all drugs would make drug use far safer and would eliminate most of our organized crime and gang problems literally overnight. Domestic violence and other violent crime would still remain due to alcohol though.

      Portugal decriminalized all drug use around 15 years ago and the policy has been successful. From memory I think Portugal now has the lowest number of drug related deaths per head of capita in all of europe, they have the lowest usage of dangerous synthetic alternatives (chronic anyone?), the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana usage, HIV infection rates have gone down, etc,etc,etc.

      Also, there hasn’t been any dramatic rise in drug use, which is what all the pro war on drugs proponents said there would be. In fact drug use among teenagers declined, whilst the number of people seeking drug addiction treatment has doubled, which means people are no longer afraid to seek help in quitting drugs.

  7. Magisterium 7

    Published just this month:

    Washington (CNN)One of Richard Nixon’s top advisers and a key figure in the Watergate scandal said the war on drugs was created as a political tool to fight blacks and hippies, according to a 22-year-old interview recently published in Harper’s Magazine.

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper’s writer Dan Baum for the April cover story published Tuesday.
    “You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “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.”

    http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/23/politics/john-ehrlichman-richard-nixon-drug-war-blacks-hippie/

  8. Sabine 8

    WE can’t even have a discussion about legalizing/decriminalizing weed in NZ without fear of being laughed out of the room by stooges like Hoskins (who looks like he is constantly under the influence of something).
    So I doubt we can have a meaningful debate about decriminalizing use of all drugs, let alone start treating drug dependency as a health care issue.
    Heck we are underfunding our Health Care System to the point were we are not even able anymore to provide routine surgery to those that need it.

    I am all for needle exchanges, methadone cafe’s and proper access to health care for drug depended people ( i have three uncles that died of overdoses in the 70’s) but I don’t think we are there just yet.

    When someone like Helen Kelly can have what ever drug she needs to be pain free in the what may be her last weeks/month maybe then we have reached a moral maturity that would allow us to be so compassionate.
    Until then, i won’t hold my breath.

  9. katipo 9

    The tipping point on this seems to be fast approaching.

    From the Independent yesterday…
    “The five-decade long international “War on Drugs” started by US president Richard Nixon has harmed the public health and should be scrapped in favour of a process of decriminalisation, a major new report has concluded.
    Anti-drug policies and laws have had “no measurable impact on supply or use” and cannot be justified on scientific or public health grounds, according to the authors of study commissioned by the Johns Hopkins Ivy League university and The Lancet. “…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/war-on-drugs-has-made-no-difference-to-number-of-users-and-actively-harms-public-health-major-study-a6956836.html

    From the Gaurdian yesterday…
    “Barack Obama committed Tuesday to take on America’s growing heroin and prescription opioid epidemic by devoting resources to prevention and treatment, rather than to the “war on drugs” policies of the last few decades.”…

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/29/barack-obama-drug-addiction-health-problem-not-criminal-problem

  10. The lost sheep 10

    As Marx said ‘Drugs are the Opium of the People’.

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