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Speaker: Towards a realistic drug policy

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  • Nick Spencer,

    All valid points. It would be nice if the argument was turned from a criminal issue into a health issue. Cannabis is not a perfect drug, but it is certainly the lesser of three evils in terms of cannabis, alcohol and tobacco.(Can we start calling alcohol a drug also, not "alcohol and drugs")

    It would be nice to go to the BDO or a summer concert in a main city and smoke a few joints without worrying about the police. In my job(most jobs I would say!!) you can't afford a conviction.

    I'm getting a bit too old to slug back half a bottle of whisky(and get messy)or pop some MDMA(and get messy). A few joints seem to make the day at the concert somehow rosier and more enjoyable. And mellow.

    Fill the BDO with alcohol rather than illegal drugs and watch the chaos ensue!!

    Even for the anti drugs crusaders I would feel a system of the government regulating, controlling and selling cannabis would at least enable some control over the issue, and, of course, a massive income from the taxation and sale of cannabis that can be put back in to the community in the form of health and drug education/treatment programes.

    At the moment cannabis is untaxed and uncontrolled, and is funding the gangs in New Zealand. Give the power back to the government and the taxes from cannabis sales back into the community.

    If we could make the laws work and change cannabis use from a criminal to a health issue, then regulate and tax it, it would save a lot of young people from drug convictions for just smoking weed. Its hardly a crime that is worth ruining a young persons career and travel opportunites in the pursuit of criminal justice!!

    DISCLOSURE: I have a 1999 conviction for possession of cannabis, busted in the Auckland Domain while reading a book after University by 8 police in the riot van. Nice. (Touch violent actually! Not on my part..more tearing the vehicle to pieces etc..)

    LESSON: Never defend yourself in court. Unless you want a conviction. Or are a lawyer. Dumbass that I am..

    Centered • Since Aug 2009 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Legalisation is the obvious route to take for pot.
    Good Luck, keep up the pressure, it wont change under National tho'

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1234 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    All drugs are bad, hell too much water will kill you.

    But come on, your source for Dak doesn't cause cancer is the Washington Post. The Punk joke was Cancer cures Reggae.

    All mass murderers were pot smokers. Alcohol & cannibis both have an impact on mental health, the difference is Alcohol is known. Your denial as to the existant dangers inherant in the drug do your cause a great disservice.

    Hows about the 41% increased risk of pyschosis.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17662880

    Edit - That said treat pot as a health issue not a criminal one. But to me even violent offenders should be treated that way and prisons done away with entirely.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1147 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    While I can to some extent agree with the above arguements and see that legalisation could be beneficial in a number of ways I do have a problem with the whole idea of easier access and greater freedom with regards to family life. As a teacher it is easy to spot the child in my class who has spent the weekend exposed to second hand cannabis smoke and it has a real effect on their learning, sometimes for a couple of days till it leaves the system. I'm not talking teenagers here but younger kids and it is a real problem. I agree also that alchohol has a just as much effect on families, it just manifests itself in different ways, violence etc. I'm not sure if this is part of the legalisation debate or not and probably has more to do with parents not taking on their parental role in a responsible manner. This highlights the problem I have with the legalisation debate is that the focus tends to be on the people with no family or responsibilities who just want to get high in social situations whereas there is a greater group of people using the drug in their normal everyday life. Legalisation would require a huge amount of education running alongside it. Of course everything I've said applies to alchohol also and I haven't touched on the problems of workplace intoxication.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    Although I support the decriminalisation/legalisation of cannabis, being around people smoking the stuff brings on a very rapid migraine. For this very selfish reason I'm wary of any moves which would increase it's presence in public spaces, or even make use at the private parties I attend more conspicuous.

    Dodging the filthy smokers (of which my social group seems to have a proliferation at the moment) may have worse long term health outcomes, but at least a strong breeze from the wrong direction doesn't mean I have to abandon the event :-/

    Of course my tolerance of cigarettes may only be due to growing up with a smoking father. (He recently gave up after a lifetime, and during a very stressful period which included my brother breaking his neck, and we're all very proud of him).
    [/drift]

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I can't buy into The Lesser of Two (or three) Evils argument for the decriminalisation of cannabis. It is kind of spurious; akin to manslaughter is preferable to murder. To really convince folk, advocates for changing legislation need to construct better arguments.

    Like Tony, my experience with students who smoke the weed is that they can't concentrate on their studies and usually fail.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2327 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Are you trying to legalise cannabis or bring about prohibition on alcohol?

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    The pragmatic way to reduce alcohol-related harms is through reducing consumption; this can be done by legally permitting adults the option of using a demonstratively safer drug – like cannabis – instead.

    If your looking for an alcohol substitute, cannabis isn't it. Heroin, is, what you've been looking for, it has similar physical effects (without the dumb arse drunken behavior). Cannabis has very little in common with alcohol. Wouldn't decriminalizing heroin be far more productive in reducing alcohol related social problems?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2775 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    As a teacher it is easy to spot the child in my class who has spent the weekend exposed to second hand cannabis smoke

    Can you explain further Tony. What is this "easy to spot"?I understand any kid with lack of sleep (possibly due to irresponsible parents) but could you elaborate?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6298 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Geoff: it is important to tease out the cause and effect here. Depressed and unsuccessful students turn to substance abuse. Students with poor self-discipline don't know when to stop (I should know). I don't doubt your observation, but I'd be cautious about your conclusion.

    The manslaughter vs murder analogy simply doesn't fit. Both crimes result in unlawful death. In the cannabis vs alcohol comparison, we are talking about different outcomes: degrees of harm. If you can marshall a demonstration that there isn't a significant difference in outcomes, then that argument will fail. But I don't see anything else particularly wrong with it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2971 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    my experience with students who smoke the weed is that they can't concentrate on their studies and usually fail

    Oh pish posh. There are two people living in my house with masters degrees who would like to strenuously disagree with you. But they can't be bothered getting off the couch. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3662 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Fair points, Stephen.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2327 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I've becomed convinced over the past few years by good argument that cannabis should be legalised.

    All the same, I'd like it to not be around me, or around my kids. I think there's sufficient evidence that developing brains are affected by cannabis. So I'd vote in favour of it being served in cannabis R18 or similar cafes, rather than legalised for general private use.

    I'm also a fanatical anti-smoker, and would like to see cigarettes banned, but that's just pie-in-the sky type stuff.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6211 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Why focus on the harm at all?

    Alcohol is a marvellous drug. Legalised sales make the fun and socialable effects of alcohol easily available, whilst at the same time bringing a good sized revenue stream to society through taxation.

    Cannabis is a marvellous drug. Legalisation would make the fun...

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I think there's sufficient evidence that developing brains are affected by cannabis.

    I could produce evidence to suggest that has an affect on grown ups as well. But would be illegal and It's also against my principles ever since I aced my rehabilitation, those fifteen years back. Plus, I don't think you would be receptive to field trials, Kyle, which is commendable;)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2775 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Cannabis has very little in common with alcohol. Wouldn't decriminalizing heroin be far more productive in reducing alcohol related social problems?

    No. Smack is addictive,and pretty sure too much can render one useless (overdose).Confidence booster,that it may be, but "too much, quite unhealthy" would knock your argument there Steven. Now, if you want a weight loss programme...

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6298 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    would like to see cigarettes banned

    This could be the squillionth chapter in the book called Things Which Would Never Work In A Million Years.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3662 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    No. Smack is addictive,and pretty sure too much can render one useless (overdose).Confidence booster,that it may be, but "too much, quite unhealthy" would knock your argument there Steven.

    Well Alcohol is addictive. And people do overdose on alcohol and die, regularly. And the reason its a confidence booster is because alcohol confuses the very same brain receptors that heroin manipulates.

    PS: I'm not trying to knock alcohol, I'm just saying its smellier than heroin.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2775 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I could produce evidence to suggest that has an affect on grown ups as well.

    Adults don't have developing brains anymore, it's all downhill for us.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6211 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Like Tony, my experience with students who smoke the weed is that they can't concentrate on their studies and usually fail.

    Geoff, how do you know which of your students smoke?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    This could be the squillionth chapter in the book called Things Which Would Never Work In A Million Years.

    Oh yes. But I'm allowed to dream :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6211 posts Report Reply

  • Brickley Paiste,

    Great post, thanks. I totally agree with you. No one ever says "My dad used to get really high and then beat the shit out of us kids".

    In high school, I found pot to be a really good study aid. It allowed me to calm down and focus on the pointless busy work that I resented. In fact, the more I smoked the better my marks were.

    I also like your point about the Netherlands. I stopped smoking pot when I moved there for two years. I think this was because buying pot became as mundane as buying bread or milk. I could get it any time I wanted. So I ceased to care about whether or not I had it or could get it. Gone were the obsessive evenings with friends calling around trying to score pot.

    Now it just makes me incredibly nervous and I never touch it. But man it served its purpose for a time.

    Since Mar 2009 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Adults don't have developing brains anymore, it's all downhill for us.

    I started learning how to read and write proper, when I was 35.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2775 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Heroin tends to rank highly (well, highest) on harm indexes because of its potential for injection. This same quality increases the risk from, e.g., cocaine, barbiturates, and ketamine. As Nutt et al. put it in the Lancet*:

    "Drugs that can be taken intravenously—eg, heroin—carry a high risk of causing sudden death from respiratory depression, and therefore
    score highly on any metric of acute harm"

    For the record, that enlightening study ranked alcohol 5th, and tobacco 9th, in terms of mean harm from 20 substances. Cannabis was 11th. Ecstasy was 18th.

    * = Lancet 2007; 369: 1047–53 (Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse)

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    In high school, I found pot to be a really good study aid. It allowed me to calm down and focus on the pointless busy work that I resented. In fact, the more I smoked the better my marks were.

    Interesting you should mention that. I have a friend who used lots of meth-amphetamine and magic mushrooms, to deal with ADHD. But oddly enough, he did his BA, Masters, and PHD on the piss.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2775 posts Report Reply

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