Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Illegal Tender

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  • Ross Bell,

    This looks like a damn interesting viewing.

    We wrote this piece about the cannabis market a few years ago. It shows that the economy is always overstated, e.g.

    Dealers spent an average of $5,988 each on cannabis over the previous year. Half made a net financial gain and the other half a loss.

    Such small numbers are jarring when you consider media headlines that have put the size of the illegal cannabis market at $1–3 billion, or recall a 1998 Auckland University study that estimated Northland’s cannabis industry was earning at least $700 million a year – nearly twice as much as Northland’s entire dairy industry.

    At $1 billion, cannabis would be as significant as all of New Zealand’s legal exports to the Pacific Islands, or a quarter the size of New Zealand’s entire legal horticulture industry.

    http://drugfoundation.org.nz/lets-talk-about-pot/market-forces

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    But that’s only part of a perfect storm, because Maori also suffer disproportionately from the health effects of cannabis use. Marijuana’s legal status makes them harder to help. And if they incur a conviction, they’re less likely to be able to secure legitimate employment in regions where jobs are already scarce. A business that might harness the same cultivation skills – growing hemp for fibre – is explicitly closed off to those with prior convictions. None of this makes much sense.

    And that Waikato Times front page hatchet job by a Maxim Institute entryist certainly didn't help.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4403 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ross Bell,

    Half made a net financial gain and the other half a loss.

    LOL, that does make sense. How many dealers aren't also heavy users?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8659 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    It does bring to mind the Freakonomics question "Why do so many crack dealers still live with their parents?", with a similar answer: for the vast majority of those involved in the operation, it wasn't sufficiently profitable for anything above subsistence.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Hirini Kaa,

    Kia ora Russell. Long time reader, first time responder :)

    It's interesting people are occasionally surprised by Hone's social views. They are only conservative/surprising if taken out of context, ie dropped into in the progressive media/blogosphere. Placed back into the context of communities locked in a struggle for survival, it's easy to see why he doesn't toe the progressive line. Cannabis is an added burden on communities that have little ability to absorb yet another negative factor. Similarly, same-sex marriage (which I fully support, btw) comes quite low down the list of priorities.

    And as for the "Green economy", my cousins grow it and sell it to each other on dole day. The money just circles in a very unproductive way. Now P - there's an export product! Unfortunately there are high barriers to entry, including devastating communities and gangs having a bit of a monopoly...

    Hirini

    Since Apr 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Saw news today of a Pew Foundation survey which reported that 52% of Americans support decriminalisation of possession.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2329 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Spencer, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    I am just wondering why this is sad news? The decriminalization of all drugs 10 years ago in Portugal has had very positive effects for the country as a whole!

    http://www.alternet.org/story/151635/ten_years_ago_portugal_legalized_all_drugs_--_what_happened_next

    I personally believe regulating cannabis so it is prescribed by a doctor and is under some form of control, such as in California at the moment, is a better method than letting gangs control the cannabis trade in todays free for all unregulated cannabis blackmarket.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_in_California#Medical_marijuana

    I will be watching Native Affairs tonight with interest, Maori TV is always informative.

    Centered • Since Aug 2009 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Was meant to be somewhere else.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1203 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Nick Spencer,

    I am just wondering why this is sad news?

    But Geoff said "saw news", not "sad news". Blurry eyes, dude? ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Spencer, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Haha yes. Sorry Geoff! I guess because I'm always defending the issue its become the default. My apologies!! I am really looking forward to Native Affairs tonight, it should be a good debate. And Game of Thrones episode 2 so win-win!!

    Centered • Since Aug 2009 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hirini Kaa,

    Kia ora Russell. Long time reader, first time responder :)

    Kia ora!

    Placed back into the context of communities locked in a struggle for survival, it’s easy to see why he doesn’t toe the progressive line. Cannabis is an added burden on communities that have little ability to absorb yet another negative factor.

    Sure, but I think one of the most interesting points raised in the report is the extent to which criminal convictions stand in the way of people improving their lives. The system does hurt Maori more than anyone else – but it doesn’t stop people smoking or growing – or work usefully in a public health context. It’s hard to see how prudent legalisation, or even just doing something about the prosecution rate, could be worse.

    This terrifying research by JustSpeak says it all. Against everything you might expect, the rate of drug prosecutions for 10-16 year-olds (really!?) has nearly doubled since 1994. And 97% of those prosecutions are cannabis offences. It's completely mad.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Myles Thomas,

    I can’t see why Hone and others don’t realise that prohibition isn’t effectively stopping marijuana’s availability. Just that you have to buy it from dodgy dealers (who may try to sell you P too) rather than licensed premises. Dope’s ubiquitous so while it may be ‘destroying lives’, the law is also destroying lives, in multiple ways.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Myles Thomas,

    I can’t see why Hone and others don’t realise that prohibition isn’t effectively stopping marijuana’s availability

    I think most prohibition advocates know that. I imagine they fear the situation would be even worse without prohibition. We need to show them the examples from elsewhere in the world where decriminalisation has reduced abuse in the community, and encourage those who genuinely care about their young people to join the dots.

    And I think here is where some law reform advocates fall down -- if they stress too much the relatively low level of harm caused by marijuana abuse compared to other, legal, drugs, they turn off people who might otherwise listen, because by them time it goes through the prejudice filter all the other side can hear is "marijuana is harmless", which they know isn't true. I think there's more win in saying "take all the harms you see caused by abuse, and ask yourself how they compare to the social harms caused by prohibition."

    (caveat about "those who genuinely care about their young people" because I firmly believe some prohibition advocates are more motivated by protecting their economic interests...)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2972 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I think there’s more win in saying “take all the harms you see caused by abuse, and ask yourself how they compare to the social harms caused by prohibition.”

    Or better yet, saying: "These are the harms caused by cannabis abuse. Prohibition doesn't curb them -- in fact, it makes them harder to deal with, and traps people into a cannabis lifestyle. It is a hugely significant factor in shutting down the aspirations of young Maori by criminalising them. There has to be a better way than this."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hirini Kaa,

    Welcome to the neigbourhood, Rev. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Hirini Kaa, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Kia ora. Yes prosecutions of teenagers is nuts in setting up long term crises. But, many of those kids probably had weed on them or were using. That's a problem too, obviously. Dysfunctional whanau don't need easier access to more dysfunction. Without stronger whanau we're stuffed anyway.

    Since Apr 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Hirini Kaa, in reply to Sacha,

    Kia ora Sacha!

    Since Apr 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Brodie Davis,

    But how is sending kids or young parents to jail for dealing weed making stronger whanau? When punishments cause more harm than the crime, it's time to consider other options.

    Since Aug 2008 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    Agree with Russell:

    There has to be a better way than this.

    @Hirini and Hone et al, I reckon there's a lot of agreement with your POV re the harms, and therefore it shouldn't be too difficult finding consensus on a drug policy that works to prevent and reduce those harms.

    On that point, mid-way through this year the government will begin public consultation on a new national drug policy, coupled with what we already have from the Law Commission's earlier drug law reform, we're well placed to move this thing along. So watch this space.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • tonyH,

    Was there through the Thatcher chapter. Nearly bought our council house for a price which the market would have quadrupled in the next five years – saved from a lifelong sense of guilt by an urgent return to an unrecognisable yet somehow familiar Rogernomical NZ (will we dance on his grave?). John Peel and Steve Bell helped keep us sane in those days.

    [ [2116-22-7-04_REJOICE.jpeg] ] sorry not up to speed with posting images

    Pakuranga • Since Nov 2011 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    Maori Television have made Illegal Tender available on their website:
    http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/national/native-affairs-illegal-tender

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to tonyH,

    [ [2116-22-7-04_REJOICE.jpeg] ] sorry not up to speed with posting images

    It's not you, probably. There's an issue with image uploads at the moment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Watched it. Could have been twice as long from my POV, there was a lot that could have been dug into further.

    For example: if we did have legalisation/decriminalisation of small-scale cultivation, what happens to those small subsistence growers? Their current returns are only as high as they are because of the risk premium for being punished.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2972 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Got this by email:

    I am a high-functioning marijuana user

    Following Russell brown's suggestion, I tuned in to last week's native affairs report on the informal marijuana industry and its role in rural Maori communities. As usual, the arguments for decriminalisation stacked up so well that the defenders of prohibition look so stiffly removed from the everyday realities of the drug culture, which they are purported to have great expertise.

    Every time I see a quixotic policeman standing proudly by a burning pile of marijuana I laugh knowing that I, as probably being among the marijuana market's largest demographic - young, white male, and despite this policeman's proud display, I will still get marijuana as easily, and for the same price as it has remained for as long as I can remember. I laughed at Senior Sargent Tim Anderson - now there's a haircut you could set your watch to - and imagine what his image of the everyday marijuana user looks like, and what the native affairs report regularly suggested, that is apparently a young, unemployed Maori man. So it is partially to you, Snr Sgt Anderson, that I write this. I am your regular drug user, and I will continue to do so, despite your efforts, until I see fit.

    Again i laugh, having almost completely forgotten that marijuana is an illegal drug, and I could be charged for possessing and smoking it, which I regularly do. As a young white drug user, I am bold and brazen in my drug consumption. I don't think, or treat the drug and the use of it, as an illegal act. I smoke on my front porch, in parks, at the beach, about as discretely as your considerate tobacco smoker would. I am high as I pass you on the street, I am high in your favourite supermarket, talking to your teenage daughter as she scans my beer, bananas and pineapple juice.

    I truly enjoy my drug use, and consider it, among other introspective experiences like travel, as an important part of growing up. My drug use has supplemented my time as a high achieving postgraduate student and as a young professional.

    I am a high-functioning marijuana user (just noticed the pun, hehe). To Sgt Anderson and your quixotic belief in prohibition, here I am, your average marijuana user, and even now as you finally learn this, I continue to smoke with absolute indifference.

    Cheers,

    Dev

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Russell Brown,

    The fruit and produce never seems to scan properly at my local supermarket, your teenage daughter invariably ends up having to input the code manually, waste of stickers if you ask me.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

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