Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: History repeats: New Zealand's history of drugs and the law

15 Responses

  • Russell Brown,

    A similar, but shorter, piece from The Conversation: Australia's Love Affair With Drugs

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    I thought Herkts previous 'histories' were more of a 'screenplay' version.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,


    Suggests the problem has always been trade from countries who have social conventions to accept specific drug use to countries which do not, and rather than bother to educate their populations they just banned the trade.

    Or at least the west did. You'll note there's still no ban on Alcohol trade, because here we have social conventions to deal with that one, just not the others. Tobacco too. May as well have been a list of drugs that old white people didn't know much about in the early 20th century.

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    That was an absolutely fantastic article Russell. The gulf between the history and the official modern narrative is obscene. Kudos for the David Herkt High Times citation, I'll be checking that out now too.

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

  • TracyMac,

    wrong post!

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison,

    Well the drug they are liberating back in the U.S.A is a herb called marijuana. It's a goldmine once you control breed and dosage. Alcohol is too destructive as a social tool maybe beyond 5% proof.

    Heavy booze needs to go. Too corruptive. Too unhealthy on mood and liver.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I need to vent. Every time I buy my alcohol free beer, at the supermarket, I need to go thru the age authentication process.

    The law is clear. If the beverage contains less than 1.15% alcohol, then even ten year olds can buy it.

    If the retailers don't understand the law, it's hard to understand how they got there licenses to sell actual alcoholic beverages.

    What pisses me of, is that the ignorance spreads to the entire hospitality industry. I can't buy none alcoholic beer at restaurants and bars, but if I try to bring my own, things can get all what the fuck - you can't do that, we can't computer that! Why don't you want to stand there with a children's shugar drink? Security!

    That problem dosn't happen in Australia or America, and I would be suprized if it's a problem in Europe. But I might be wrong, we where trying to be europeon style drinking. Because they can handle there piss.
    Y'know all this angrie resentment is enough to drive a man to drink:)

    What's wrong with New Zealand licensing law?

    Scratch that, why is the princable of the law not understood?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    After upgrading my iPad 2 to 8.0.2. My public address commenting has become much, much more difficult. And that’s not only becouse my active page freezes up every other time I try to post something. Damb those Silicon Valley apple tosh nerds and there medical marihuana :(

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • David Herkt, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    Thanks for the citation, Russell.
    Seeing as it has come up, I’d like to respond to Steve Curtis a little – in explanation.
    High Times was a 3 x 44 minute series funded as part of the NZOA Platinum Fund and screened by TV3. Subtitled ‘A Social History of New Zealand Drug Use’, it was to cover the period 1960 to the present.
    I wanted it to be fast-cut and media-rich with as many historical images and sounds I could gather. I wanted to use relevant New Zealand music. I especially wanted to use the archive creatively and one of my favourite sequences was the POV shots of an imagined drug-user in the early 1970s waking up, going downstairs (Wallpaper! Shag-carpet!), out the front door, driving to a phone-booth (Red! Wood!) dialing a number on an NZ Post Office phone (Rotary-dial!) and driving off again – where each of those shots had been gathered from entirely separate early1970s footage and edited together with historical accuracy.
    Each of the interviews we shot was around 2 hours long and we shot 104 of them. That is around 200 hours of interview. There were interviews from Police, drug-users, medical people, social-history experts, musicians, and many more. We got incidents from both sides. There were wonderful people and wonderful stories.
    However because of the nature of television, they had to be edited down. I’m inclined to think of it as ‘distillation’ but it is an awful process. Often a 2 hour interview could be reduced to between 9 and 20 seconds. It sounds it terrible, but this is the way of documentary TV in a commercial environment, particularly on such a vast subject.
    In order to cover 55 years with a cast of 100 in 122 minutes, and allowing for visual punctuation and historical archive, it was an exercise in editing and omission.
    So yes, you are right Steve. It was a screenplay version. There were focus stories in each segment, but they too were a maximum of two minutes. I tried to make up for this by making every shot count – there were newspaper stories, ad campaigns, TV dramas, news footage, objects (including a Blue Lady syringe to illustrate the Hello Sailor song than a bFM callout helped locate) and anything else I could find. We returned people to the original scenes. The nice cleaned-up Ponsonby house you see in the sequence of Greg Newbold’s arrest is the exact house that was raided in 1976. However ultimately we could only do what TV can do…
    It is interesting to note that Episode 1 and 2 had no network interference at all. Episode 2 is my favourite. Episode 3 (from 1990 to the present) on the other hand was a different story. It was too close in temporal terms. I had got away with murder in the other episodes by presenting people who enjoyed their drug-use – often with relish – it was not going to be the same thing for Episode 3.
    I can recall being told that “this isn’t a commercial for drug-use you know” when it came to the Ecstasy years. I’d had real problems finding someone – Police, medical experts, you name it – who’d say anything bad about Ecstasy. In fact the Police were remarkably positive… However, after an really extensive search, a Police Officer was eventually found, who was suitably dire.
    Also, with proximity in time it was hard to get current drug-users, so we were left with those with therapeutic barrows to push. I can barely watch Episode 3.
    As whole series it might have been a once-over, but it wasn’t intended to be a microscopically detailed version (although I certainly had the footage). It was a broad social history of a broad period of time. I like to think we partially achieved our aim. I particularly regret losing the mushroom eaters in Wanganui and the man who hid drugs up his anus, who didn’t shit for one of the longest ever periods ever recorded (which was rather interestingly count-downed in the NZ media).
    I also hoped that it would open things up so that the stories we discovered could be used by others in more depth.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Redmer Yska's New Zealand Green (David Bateman, 1990) is a really good book, on, as it's title suggests, marijuana use and laws in Godzone.

    I'd love to see it republished and updated.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to David Herkt,

    I wanted it to be fast-cut and media-rich with as many historical images and sounds I could gather. I wanted to use relevant New Zealand music

    Though I’ve hit a roadblock in terms of only being able to find the first two parts of episode 1 having been uploaded to youtube, It is tremendously evocative David, very watchable. I was immediately reminded of an uncle who was kicked out of home in the 70s for throwing a few seeds down in the backyard. Tearing apart the fabric of society seems to be nothing more than a neglected byproduct for law enforcers like Brian Stewart, chuckling away as he explains why he refers to Murray Grimsdale’s girlfriend as “rat girl”.

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

  • Gary Elshaw, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Jorge Castaneda has a great article in Time magazine calling for the legalisation of drugs - all of them.

    Apia, Samoa • Since Mar 2011 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Shulgin,

    Mr brown nice article....

    and let us not forget the NDIB Maxwell report...all the cannabis hospital admissions...a $30 million a year burden...unloving 60000 bed nights...the report went "outdated" just last year in fact...the problem just vanished in the space of 30 days when certain matters were raised with police, health and customs......

    cops fiddling health figures....

    NZ • Since May 2011 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Shulgin,

    Ah the good old days when you could bowl up to a hospital, plead cannabis and score a free bed for the night.

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

  • Shulgin, in reply to mark taslov,

    ...not really...good old days.... I have the spreadsheets the Police used and the original ICD 10 extract...well...well... tax payers paying for Police to "construct" a social "harm" that didn't actually exist...i even showed the politicians the plagiarism in the Maxwell report, like I say it went "outdated"...and the cops fiddling the numbers are still being paid the "community"...yes still gainfully employed....and as I say after fighting them tooth and nail and despite attempts by the police to hide the ICD 10 extract....there are no repercussions for false studies, showing a cannabis sole causation problem via hospital admissions...they won't even publish a retraction...i feel unsafe walking down the street....

    NZ • Since May 2011 • 125 posts Report Reply

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