Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cannabis: Who owns Say Nope to Dope anyway?

16 Responses

  • Ian Dalziel,

    That Davies road address seems to be the MIT building and station (not that it’s numbered) – though it does seem to have other tenants – there is at least one law firm in the building – and both organisations (Say Nope to dope and FamFirst) have the same phone number…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Boden,

    I'd say the obfuscation around their spending is evidence that should be considered in the ChCh High Court case to set aside the referendum result.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew E,

    Thanks for the detective work, just wanted to add that his name is spelt "McCoskrie"

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2021 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Marta Rychert,

    Hi Russell,
    Thank you for your interest in our piece. The commentary, published yesterday in Drug & Alcohol Review, discussed some of the social, political and campaign factors that may explain the outcome, with international academic audience in mind. We have endeavoured to present the evidence in a balanced way and that has meant we have been criticised by interest groups from both sides of the debate. It’s our job to present the evidence and analysis, not advocate for one side or the other. We asserted that Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s decision not to reveal her voting preference before the vote may have been decisive based on her effectiveness as a political communicator and broad popularity with middle New Zealand conservative voters. We believe Jacinda Arden’s communication skills and popularity are self-evident and so we didn’t provide any reference to back that up (although there are numerous political opinion poll results you could refer to). Incidentally, we are not criticizing Jacinda Ardern for her position, she clearly explained the rational that she wanted people to decide for themselves, which is reasonable for such a values based issue. Nevertheless, it is a factor that in our view is relevant in explaining NZ referendum debate.
    With regards to campaign spending, thanks for noting we did not have access to reports submitted to the Electoral Commission by “third party promoters” (those were published after the article was accepted for publication). We agree the reports provide interesting insights. You rightly note, only 3 campaigners filed the reports (only those that spent $100,000+ in the “regulated period” are required to do this) and 2 of those were on the NO side (SAM and Family First – who are behind the “Nope to Dope”; note we refer to “Nope to Dope” as anti-reform group not a “registered campaigner”) - their declared combined spending was $462,000. The only registered campaigner who crossed the $100,000 reporting limit on the “YES” side was NZ Drug Foundation ($337,000). From Facebook data, we also know that “Make It Legal” (also YES side) was very close to the $100,000 in that pre-referendum “regulated period”, Facebook estimate for the 8-weeks pre-referendum suggests roughly $96,000 spending on social media advertising (and for the 3 months pre-referendum Facebook estimate sits at $129,000 spent – but this data extends beyond the “regulated period”). Next to NZDF, we consider “Make It Legal” one of the leading pro-reform campaigners (possible with second highest spending among registered campaigners on the YES side, and definitely the highest spending on Facebook advertising). Absolutely agree strategies differed among campaigners, and we explicitly referred to leading role of Make It Legal on social media. While we will never know the exact spending on each side (because those <$100,000 don’t file the reports), the above – from what is available in the public domain - suggests it wasn’t far off in the immediate pre-referendum period. Unfortunately, as you note - there is even less information about campaign spending before that, therefore our commentary focused on the immediate pre-referendum period for which some data is available.
    Marta & Chris

    Since Mar 2021 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Buchanan,

    The underhand funding is an issue - but the real problem was that some in the Yes campaign pushed prohibitionist propaganda with slogans such as “Regulate cannabis to reduce the harms it can cause“, “Let’s get cannabis under control by regulating it”, and ‘protect our young people’.

    The other major issue was that instead of 10yrs of preparation following the groundwork already done by the Law Commission who recommended rescinding the Misuse of Drugs Act, the past decade saw a U turn as we became swamped by USA visitors and US styled prohibitionist drug policies (Drug Courts, Drug testing drivers, Drug testing wastewater, Meth House Testing, Brain Disease Models of Addiction, Drug testing beneficiaries, Compulsory Treatment Act and using the PSA to ban everything). That left us woefully unprepared.

    The groundwork for legalising cannabis or indeed ending prohibition - takes many years of education and awareness raising.

    We shot ourselves in the foot by courting the USA propagandist and President of SAM Kevin Sabet & inviting him to address the last NZ Cannabis Conference

    It gave Kevin Sabet credibility, an audience and a foothold - and lo and behold Sabet then establishes a New Zealand SAM branch and the rest is history.

    The creation of a SAM (NZ) became a huge problem - but we should never have invited him over to present on preventing and treating cannabis use - sheesh!!

    Here's the paper trail of evidence:


    Wellington • Since Jul 2020 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Marta Rychert,

    Thanks for the response, Marta. Much appreciated.

    (SAM and Family First – who are behind the “Nope to Dope”; note we refer to “Nope to Dope” as anti-reform group not a “registered campaigner”)

    True, but I'm not even sure Say Nope to Dope is a group as such, so much as a brand passed around between the two closely-related promoters.

    That Make It legal figure of $96,000 is interesting – I knew they were in the tens of thousands, but not that close to having to file a return.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Brad SHB,

    Chris, were you not the same academic that proposed a government controlled not for profit medical cannabis regime that completely ignored the few hundred thousand people, mostly in the regions that rely on income from the existing cannabis industry to put food on their families tables.
    Another local expert so out of touch with what's happening at ground level in this industry. Unfortunately, these woke academics are the same advisors who have Medsafes ear and partly responsible for why our industry is so far behind the rest of the world, regardless of how us kiwis love to pat ourselves on the backs and bask in our number 8 fence wire innovation mentality.

    Since Oct 2019 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan,

    Nice research RB, deserves sharing widely. Wonder if the Liquor Industry or Religious organisations contributed to the NO campaign, they have previously contributed resources, funds and engaged in behind the scenes lobbying.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 124 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Marta Rychert,

    Incidentally, we are not criticizing Jacinda Ardern for her position, she clearly explained the rational that she wanted people to decide for themselves, which is reasonable for such a values based issue.

    I think it was cowardly and it led to a bad outcome so I'm quite happy to criticize her for it.

    Of course it wasn't the only factor, The world was gripped by total loss of all perspective on the relative balance of potential harm and the right to a great many freedoms, and it still is. Under the circumstances it was amazing legalization even came close when we had just spent many months making it illegal to go to work, school, to friends, to shops, sports, overseas, to weddings and funerals, even leaving your suburb was curtailed.

    I can't even imagine a sensible debate about harm minimization when we cant even bring up just how far and how extremely wrong the approach can go, as just witnessed. We've got a whole lot more suffering to do first.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin O'Connell,

    This would be included in the high court inquiry, amd may still be, but the inquiry is stalled while judges Thomas Dunningham and Mander deliberate on a preliminary decision (inadvertent failure to procure ‘security for costs’ in time’, which deserved to be an expeditious decision. We have been waiting 28 days now on the reserved decision (status request being made today)

    I fear politics or some other conflict of inteest has caused tbe judges to put due process in the too hard basket? Hope im proved wrong..

    Thanks Joe Boden for acknowledging the inquiry and its potential to void result . it is not in the Parliamentary or media discourse.

    (Kevin O’Connell, spokesperson for the applicant group of 346 petitioners)

    christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Worik, in reply to Marta Rychert,

    MakeItLegal have filed a return.

    Sent it to the wrong address (sigh!) so it is late going up

    Not up yet but will be shortly, it is for $104,000(ish)

    Waitati • Since Jan 2017 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin O'Connell,

    FYI from the Chch High court this morning re petition for inquiry into referendum.conduct (stalled three months so far):

    CIV-2020-409-000604 - O'Connell & Ors v Electoral Commission

    Dear Counsel and Mr O’Connell,

    A judgment for the above named matter [whether to re-open Inquiry into the 2020 cannabis legalisation and control referendum] is likely to be issued in the next 5 – 10 working days.

    Kind regards,

    [Court manager]

    christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Worik,

    MakeItLegal have filed a return.

    Sent it to the wrong address (sigh!) so it is late going up

    Not up yet but will be shortly, it is for $104,000(ish)

    Ah. And oops!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong,

    I am more concerned with my own supply. My vegetable garden is going great guns but the usual supply is, apologies to all involved, well under par.

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 70 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Both sides of the online debate where peddling disingenuous messaging. The campaign to legalising came across as arrogant by loud people with a strong sense of self importance. The reason the failed was that proposal not enough people trusted the proposal to regulate and control the problem by selling it in shops.

    Personally, I was a bit offended seeing middle class people who obviously just wanted to groove into there local weed store before the morning Latte and eggs benadick at there over priced coffee - pretending to care about inequality. And then launching into another self important rant about bus drivers not giving enough room for cyclists who commute to the hundred dollar an hour town planning jobs.

    You fucked it up by being arrogant. You should have campaigned to decriminalise cannabis ( and the drugs ). and make you could have listened more than just focusing on proving your position is right and the binary other one one wrong.

    Drug harm isn't necessarily reduced by awesome cool people who are popular and go to lots of rave parties. I wish it was.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong,

    No longer concerned with my own supply. We sow the seed, nature grows the seed and then we smoke the weed.

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 70 posts Report Reply

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