Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Drugs and why Dunne did it

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  • Russell Brown,

    Meanwhile, an indication of how high the stakes can be: the Philippines' murderous drug war on its own citizens.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    I reckon "Portugal" is code for some type of decrminalisation and health referral model. It's a good code word because lots of people now know what happened in Portugal - it was drug law reform PLUS investment in health interventions. It's a much more simpler way to sell the idea. But yes, there would be a lot of detail to work out.

    The Law Commission came up with a similar - in some cases less complicated, in other cases more complicated - "Portugal model", where health referral occurs immediately for someone picked up with Class A drugs, but a 3-strike caution for Class C (2 strikes for Class B - not an easy sound bite).

    The Law Commission also said the the classification needs a serious tidy up. As you highlight, there are some significant problems with the current scheduling.

    Isn't it fucking great that some politicians are willing to have this discussion!

    p.s. Putting in a plug for our Parliamentary drug policy symposium. Get along everyone!

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Hazel Heal,

    Great piece, great writing as ever, looking forward to the symposium.

    Dunedin NZ • Since Dec 2016 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'd certainly accept a Portugal style step change as a very important one without arguing the toss about the perpetuation of organized crime. The harm reduction is so compelling, at every level. It would be nice if they weren't flying solo on this one and we could get one more data point. And, obviously, if we could reduce harm for tens of thousands of our own people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell, in reply to BenWilson,

    Agree. Which is why Dunne is saying Portugal (Decrim + health), plus legal regulation of "lower harm" drugs like weed.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I remain skeptical to the extent that Dunne seems unprepared to concede that authorities prosecuting people growing for personal use is part of the problem he’s trying to address. It’s a no-win for those lacking the discretionary income to actually pay for dried plant matter.

    And yet…

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    I wondered whether the timing of Dunne's announcement was in part in response to TOP announcing a candidate running in Ohariu;

    http://www.top.org.nz/jessica

    And of course here's their cannabis policy;

    http://www.top.org.nz/top8

    Also to legalise and regulate.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Bill English remains resolutely not on board:

    Standing in Mr Dunne's way is his ministerial boss - the Prime Minister. Bill English says Mr Dunne is "making a lot of assumptions" about a drug that "does real damage to people".

    "We don't want to encourage open trading in cannabis and a whole industry around it," he told The AM Show.

    Mr English says the impact on gangs would be minimal, as they have other criminal avenues to make money, while Customs and police are "doing a much better job now" of intercepting drugs before they hit the streets.

    Despite his unwillingness to make any changes to drug laws, Mr English does agree with Mr Dunne that the so-called war on drugs can't be called a success.

    "It's failing if one person is having their lives wrecked, or wrecking their family's lives with drugs. You can never say it's succeeded - put it that way. There's always more to do."

    Perhaps the Prime Minister could read his own government's National Drug Policy before commenting further.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Dunno about that - Dunne started musing about this back in 2013, and has developed his views over the past few years - his most recent thoughts were canvassed at a Police conference at the start of May, followed up with a blog post. The recent media was prompted by comments he made to Stuff for the Global Drug Survey - those interviews were conducted a couple of weeks ago... well before publication.

    But anyway, good on Dunne, The Opportunities Party, the Greens, and Maori Party (plus Act too) who have all made positive noises recently.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Ross Bell,

    positive noises

    Yes, but I'm a bit more impatient than that :-). Not that I'm a pot smoker but I think it just criminal that we might put anyone up in front of the courts for minor possession for personal consumption. How many future job/employment prospects have we ruined today by recording a marijuana conviction against someones individual record? How many people have we virtually grounded from overseas travel because they were found with a joint or a plant in their back garden? And how many people turned to the synthetic product today, so that they could pee in a bottle and not be pulled up at work tomorrow? How many people visited the premises of a criminal agent in order to obtain supply, and in doing so, how many were 'sold up' to a more harmful substance?

    Maybe I'm overly dramatic - maybe we don't prosecute all that many people for possession anymore - and maybe people don't turn to the synthetic shit for those reasons, or accept the criminals advances with respect to P and/or other shit...but the point is - one more life ruined is too much for me. The war on pot needs to end to my mind - no ifs, buts, or halfway measures.

    Give me a stoner over a drunk anyday.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Maybe I’m overly dramatic

    Not that overly. All the things you mention are happening daily, and they shouldn't be.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • william blake, in reply to Ross Bell,

    Plus investment in health interventions.

    I can see centrist governments going Californian and taxing the drugs but meaningful investment is rehab is unlikely with the current decreases of investment in the public sector.

    Since Mar 2010 • 378 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Hooton,

    I don't follow this issue very closely but hasn't this been a massive slow u-turn by Peter Dunne?

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 194 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Hooton,

    yes

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Matthew Hooton,

    You don't get to have been a minister in every government since the Vietnam war without trimming a little to the winds.

    Labour have put a hanger and flogger up in Dunne's loyal and beloved seat, so it's quite possible that there are a few Wellington liberals who might be inclined to give their electorate vote to the least illiberal of the candidates.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • william blake, in reply to Matthew Hooton,

    hasn’t this been a massive slow u-turn by Peter Dunne?

    Hmn..only if decriminalisation of of all unregulated drugs is in direct conflict with Dunnes’ alcohol and tobacco interests.

    Since Mar 2010 • 378 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    That is an unfair and untrue comment. Incidentally, Greg O'Connor is on the record with a policy very similar to this one of Peter Dunne's.

    My question is why was Peter Dunne so resistant to Helen Kelly's request for medicinal cannabis for her and others only last year?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Maybe I’m overly dramatic – maybe we don’t prosecute all that many people for possession anymore

    Yeah, nah, we do. Police discretion is having an impact, but on a formal level, diversion and pre-charge warnings only work for people with a clean slate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Russell Brown,

    but on a formal level, diversion and pre-charge warnings only work for people with a clean slate.

    Does that also mean earlier (non-drug related) offences, such as vehicle related offences (unpaid fines, driving without a licence, etc.) disqualifies someone for that clean slate consideration?

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    That is an unfair and untrue comment. Incidentally, Greg O’Connor is on the record with a policy very similar to this one of Peter Dunne’s.

    O'Connor, I think, toned it down when he realised he might be a Labour candidate, but he's on record as saying that if we're to reform, decriminalisation isn't enough. He certainly is not a hanger and flogger. Indeed, it's ironic, that two law reformers are contesting the same electorate.

    My question is why was Peter Dunne so resistant to Helen Kelly’s request for medicinal cannabis for her and others only last year?

    The answer is quite complicated. Her doctor's application didn't meet the approval guidelines from the ministry's advisors. But the guidelines were in some respects unreasonable. On the other hand, they sought approval for the wrong product (one whose manufacturers couldn't provide an assay for). Yet in theory, Dunne could have said what the hell, I'm approving it anyway. But that would have meant him sticking his neck out quite a long way – too far for comfort.

    Happily, things have improved a lot in that space in this year, not least because Shane Le Brun at MCANZ has worked really hard at making his case for other products. It's still too hard, but it's better, and ministry officials have moved quite a long way.

    Dunne has also said, as minister, that he would like to see police discretion used in the case of terminally ill patients. But he can't change the law on his own.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to Matthew Hooton,

    I don't follow this issue very closely but hasn't this been a massive slow u-turn by Peter Dunne?

    I believe this comes under the heading of "when I'm presented with contrary evidence, I change my mind, what do you do?"

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    The day can't dawn soon enough when we no longer have to second-guess the minutiae of drug law reform via the sphincterish prism of Dunne's "personality". Naturally it's better than dealing with Jim Anderton's throwback bigotry, currently being echoed by Bill English, but we've been subjected to this crap for so long we're at risk of accepting pathetic gratitude as our natural state.

    As for O'Connor being a Hanger & Flogger, he certainly wasn't shy about playing that part when he felt his old role demanded it.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    He was in a different role then. Just like public servants who have to toe the government line when it might be contrary to their personal views. I was surprised to hear him speak and find he is actually quite liberal on a lot of things. From his years on and near the front line of policing he has seen that a lot of laws just victimise certain people, and he has some good old leftish social justice answers.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    He was in a different role then. Just like public servants who have to toe the government line when it might be contrary to their personal views. I was surprised to hear him speak and find he is actually quite liberal on a lot of things. From his years on and near the front line of policing he has seen that a lot of laws just victimise certain people, and he has some good old leftish social justice answers.

    I don't doubt any of this. Nevertheless in his role as a police union advocate he calculatingly - and perhaps effectively - played to the shallow end of the media. A little more public clarification from the man himself might go some way towards justifying the kind of apologetics he seems to have attracted since declaring his intentions in Ohariu.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Some of the home made synthetic recipes out there being sold for good money are quite horrifying. None of it illegal but certainly brain rotting.

    Since Nov 2016 • 351 posts Report Reply

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