Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: When drug law gets so complicated we should rip it up and start again

24 Responses

  • Russell Brown,

    This answer by Andrew Little to Parliamentary questions from Simeon Brown is interesting: it does suggest they get it.

    “They are one and the same: suppliers are sellers and sellers are users.”

    I do hope that funding for support services isn’t being held up by a desire to untangle the penalties side at the same time – and hence allow the reclassification – just for the sake of the optics.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A new petition from a new group: the Health Not Handcuffs coalition.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    And then there's the showstopping ban on animal testing

    Given the existence of software models for testing toxicity these days, can you explain how this aspect poses such a problem?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Russell, in reply to Sacha,

    It was a chicken and egg problem. There was never any guarantee that the results of any such tests would be acceptable to the Ministry of Health. So the Ministry expected producers to go ahead, do the testing and submit the application along with a very hefty fee without having any certainty whether the application would ever be accepted - and no guarantee that the Government would not ultimately reclassify the substance even if the application was granted. Oddly enough, nobody wanted to take that offer.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 122 posts Report Reply

  • KathrynB,

    My guess is that most Labour and all Green MPs do understand that users are often also suppliers (from necessity) but they still need the votes of socially conservative NZF MPs to get decriminalisation through parliament. Separating out users from suppliers may be enough to get support but they really will need to ramp up the testing and support services massively to have any chance of making this work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2014 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Given the existence of software models for testing toxicity these days, can you explain how this aspect poses such a problem?

    As far as I'm aware, it's still the view of MoH that software models aren't good enough.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Fly spray

    “The Government has received advice from police that household chemicals, including fly spray have been used in the production of synthetics.” No, it hasn’t. When you make an unhelpful blurt, just correct it rather than doubling down.

    This myth was going around in sept 2017 - but was denied then as well.
    https://interactives.stuff.co.nz/2017/09/killer-chemicals/index.html

    Word on the street that is that all sorts of things are being used - a theory fuelled by police who claim "intelligence" shows weed killer, fly spray and even rat poison is being added to the mix.
    That appears to be urban myth - Walsh says that on rare occasions they've detected insecticides but not in doses strong enough to be fatal.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    So the "showstopping" element is that Ministry again. Hey, let's make them responsible for managing drug policy.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    we should rip it up and start again

    Seriously though, old "soft on crime" habits die hard.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5418 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    It’s not helpful to blur the distinction between the decriminalisation and legalisation of recreational drugs. Nandor was doing something similar a few weeks ago – it would be disappointing if that was part of a joint media strategy.

    If New Zealand relaxes its cannabis laws it will still need criminal sanctions that protect users from adulterated, mis-labelled and inherently dangerous drugs, including harmful analogs. It’s not practical to write regulations for the lawful supply of each and every substance some wanker wants to monetise.

    Lastly, this isn’t the first time you’ve downplayed the difference between the possession and supply of substances that can and do change lives. People who supply dangerous and addictive substances to vulnerable people (including young people) do a lot of harm and continue to deserve the stigma of society’s disapproval.

    Since Nov 2006 • 784 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to WH,

    a joint media strategy

    very good :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to WH,

    It’s not helpful to blur the distinction between the decriminalisation and legalisation of recreational drugs. Nandor was doing something similar a few weeks ago – it would be disappointing if that was part of a joint media strategy.

    Huh? I’m sure Nandor knows the difference very well. It was a matter of the interviewer using the wrong word. There’s no “joint media strategy” to obscure the difference.

    If New Zealand relaxes its cannabis laws it will still need criminal sanctions that protect users from adulterated, mis-labelled and inherently dangerous drugs, including harmful analogs.

    Where cannabis has been legalised it’s finally been possible to screen for mould and pesticides. I’m not aware of any reports of licensed cannabis vendors selling something that isn’t cannabis, but I firmly agree they should be prosecuted.

    It’s not practical to write regulations for the lawful supply of each and every substance some wanker wants to monetise.

    The Psychoactive Substances Act was set up to provide a regulatory framework and it may yet be employed at some point. It’s just no help at the moment.

    Lastly, this isn’t the first time you’ve downplayed the difference between the possession and supply of substances that can and do change lives. People who supply dangerous and addictive substances to vulnerable people (including young people) do a lot of harm and continue to deserve the stigma of society’s disapproval.

    I don’t think you understood what I wrote, or that you understand how things work in the real world, especially with drugs like these. Although I’m pleased that you now seem to understand what decriminalisation means, because that hasn’t always been evident.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Regarding the fly spray street myth, the police only every said that it was word on the street they had heard about. They never claimed or set out to imply this was true.

    Prior to those Police statements I’d had heard from people I know who were close to – but not actively involved in – the production side of things, that fly spray was used. I think though it may have been as a solvent to transfer the active ingredient to the leafy substance. And so the misunderstanding and consequent street myth about potential harm.

    Since Nov 2016 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Acute mental health units did notice more trouble from the legal synthetics (as compared to weed) prior those law changes so the synthetics were causing more harm although not fatalities.

    Since Nov 2016 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Neil,

    Acute mental health units did notice more trouble from the legal synthetics (as compared to weed) prior those law changes so the synthetics were causing more harm although not fatalities.

    Yes, and I think as a class of drugs they're a poor fit for regulated sale. It's interesting to speculate how the PSA might have gone had synthetic cannabinoids not been its first order of business.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Neil,

    Acute mental health units did notice more trouble from the legal synthetics (as compared to weed) prior those law changes so the synthetics were causing more harm although not fatalities.

    I suppose we should take that as anecdote, or word on the psychiatric street.

    Ordinary garden variety cannabis is also known to complicate mental health problems. As do several of the psychiatric drugs which psychiatrists prescribe. I imagine acute mental health units have a difficult time making sense of it all.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4311 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    In New Zealand, estimates indicate between 600 and 1000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes (Berl 2009; Connor et al 2005).

    One in four children who die, alcohol is a contributing factor. Because violence and car crashes are strongly associated with alcohol, that really means because of alcohol. 1% of drivers are drunk, 25% of deaths on the road are drunk, meaning nearly half the accidents, so it's the booze.

    Says google. Both because people get the immediate dose very wrong quite often and also generally over-use for years on end as addicts. And also because our cultural expectations of drunk people are shit.

    45-50 in 18 months, it almost seems like a lot of people.

    When I was uni in Dunedin, long before these things appeared, four people died from drinking green potato water. They also got the dose wrong. I'm not saying young people will always die from drug experimentation, but they always have so far, and the legal one is not better.

    Pot is better. Marijuana. That kills and disables vastly lower numbers of people who experiment with it. Years of abuse by young people definitely sucks for some, but still much less so than years of abuse by young people of almost every other option that they already have. Tobacco, Alcohol, that shit kills, on top of fucking up their heads.

    And all the govt. does for booze is stick a big ass tax on it while allowing them to sponsor sports and advertise like it's just a fun thing and also promote sexism which I don't even understand.

    --

    But hey, let's all get stuck around trying to make sure people who sell the pot anagrams go to prison for all the harm our bullshit drug laws are doing in the aid of protecting the booze industry from competition.

    And then these seemingly sensible people, they start saying things like because of how bad booze is, they can't introduce things that are less bad, because arglebargle 30 people a year is so sad but 1000 people a year is shut up and drink ya beer, what are ya.

    Since Nov 2006 • 607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to tussock,

    Marijuana. That kills and disables vastly lower numbers of people who experiment with it.

    Ever any recorded fatalities?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    At some point, we’re going to have to stop fiddling with existing laws and start the whole thing again from scratch. And given that, we might as well start now.

    But incrementalism :-).

    Seriously, yes, this. But, NZ First.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    Ever any recorded fatalities?

    I think if you count car crashes against alcohol mortality statistics, you have to do the same for cannabis. It's almost certainly been a contributing factor in some deadly accidents. I think it's supposed to be particularly bad for aircraft pilots for some reason. But yes, I don't think direct death from the toxic effects of it has been reliably observed even one time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • WH, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don’t think you understood what I wrote, or that you understand how things work in the real world, especially with drugs like these. Although I’m pleased that you now seem to understand what decriminalisation means, because that hasn’t always been evident.

    I'm not sure your take on the "real world" of drug use justifies the abolition of the Misuse of Drugs Act or the legalisation of recreational drugs.

    Rip it up and start again? Who knew that drug laws and health care could be so complicated.

    Since Nov 2006 • 784 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to WH,

    I’m not sure your take on the “real world” of drug use justifies the abolition of the Misuse of Drugs Act or the legalisation of recreational drugs.

    Because the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 has been such a marvellous success? One of the other ways the current government is dropping the ball is apparently forgetting all about the reboot of MoDA that was supposed to begin in this term. I'd like to see that happen.

    Rip it up and start again? Who knew that drug laws and health care could be so complicated.

    Well, clearly they are. But there are better ways forward.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • WH, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    Since Nov 2006 • 784 posts Report Reply

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