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Speaker: Cannabis: make it legal but don’t let anyone make money from it

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  • mark taslov, in reply to SimonD,

    Even the most socially anxious can manage a pot plant surely?

    I recall a few years back I supported this type of approach, just to give some idea of what I understand this would entail. An annual supply for a mid to heavy smoker would equate to the harvest of roughly 4 mid sized plants. Firstly if people are growing indoors that’s going to involve a measurable upsurge in electricity usage – inefficient with such small quantities – meaning more money than necessary going to power companies and more strain on our infrastructure.

    Given New Zealand’s favourable climate it makes little sense not to be harnessing the naturally conducive elements – however this brings with it issues such as storage of reasonably high quantities of cannabis which are prone to mould (in which case the affected produce must be discarded at the risk of putting an extra burden on the health system) in our damp homes – vigilance in flowering season is a must if dealing with unsexed seeds given the potential for fertilisation and the loss of an entire annual crop – note that this might be around eight plants in a two smoker household – which then also brings with it a higher risk of theft (either in storage or while growing) – and the repurposed policing of that – also accounting for the means people require to protect their crops – and potential abuse by those who are underage – ’whose gonna miss a couple of grams when mum and dad have 7 ounces?’.

    Accounting for these potential risks based on the vast quantities many people will then have at their disposal also – as far as I’ve observed – negatively influences smoking habits and fuels abuse.

    But the key issue with this proposed model – as much as I love the communist philosophy – is simply that there is no precedent – there is no tangible commodity that is managed in this way – and that our education system remains consumed with calcifying individualism and the entrenchment of power in such a way as to leave the door wide open for exploitation.

    If on the other hand this strategy is implemented in concert with the overthrow of global capitalism then I’m all for it.

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

  • SimonD, in reply to mark taslov,

    Well thats not really correct as the Uruguayan model I mentioned is most of the way there and seems to function quite well. The other point is that this model is extremely easy to implememt. No major institutions need to be put into place nor regulating bodies. The police can basically turn down the volume on enforcement depriving the prisons of numerous criminal apprentices. If it turns out to be a failure then it is reasonably easy to repeal and replace. This is certainly not the case with a full comercialized model. Once the lid is off that bottle the genie is out.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to SimonD,

    Uruguay still has a black market to cater largely for tourists who are prohibited from purchasing cannabis, the productive capacity is failing to meet demand with people lined up outside pharmacies, they’re lagging behind pro-prohibition countries on medicinal cannabis, fights between criminal gangs, mostly associated with drugs, made up 59% of all homicides in the first quarter of 2018, roughly double the percentage in 2012 and of an estimated 147,000 Uruguayans between the ages of 18 and 65 who consume marijuana so far only about 35,000 have registered to use the legal marijuana system. Even with legal users sharing their pot, Uruguay’s cannabis control institute says that the regulated market only reaches about 50% of the country’s users.

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

  • Worik,

    Mostly a good proposal.

    But selling does need to be a crime? Even if it is just against regulation, like moderate speeding big business would stay out

    Waitati • Since Jan 2017 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • SimonD, in reply to mark taslov,

    Yes there will always be a black market it is the nature of humanity. The point is what is the way to achieve the most equatable solution that causes the least harm. Surely looking at alcohol and tobacco would tell you that letting in big business is a recipe for disaster. Ive just returned from Uruguay and I didn’t notice any queues outside chemists. The biggest complaints I heard in the various cannabis museums and shops that sold related materal was that the law didn’t allow the growing of hemp for fibre and food. As for the failure of production to meet demand that is something that will sort itself out. I agree that if you want to promote the use of recreational cannabis then this method won’t provide a massive flood of product into the market and in fact I believe it will eventually likely reduce consumption overall as it will no longer carry the thrill of illegality, but for those of us who like a puff we can grow, keep and share a relately harmless plant without risk of prosecution

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to SimonD,

    Surely looking at alcohol and tobacco would tell you that letting in big business is a recipe for disaster.

    I’m with you on that – I just don’t understand why that necessitates extending the absolutist prohibition on selling for profit – especially with our tourist numbers – but I’m poor af and as you’ve noticed, a little bothered by the inherent ableism. In terms of the local market I thought this regional approach had some merit worth exploring (with an eye on developing an export market) – more so than some of the schemes I’ve heard the MoRD getting behind.

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

  • SimonD, in reply to mark taslov,

    Yes I get that its a new market and an opportunity for the North particularly but I dont think it is likely to solve any financial woes. My guess is that once legal the price will likely drop to a unprofitable level and it simply wont be worth the weight. For a start there is unliely to be a massive uptake in use, I reckon that most who want to smoke already do. Moreover the big profits thought of when one thinks of fields of weed are based around a high risk illegal industry, no risk no reward.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to SimonD,

    none of that really strikes me as a strong argument for continuing to foster a black market – It’s not something I’ve looked into but are there any other localities where legalising cannabis has caused the price to drop to unprofitable levels?

    Moreover the big profits thought of when one thinks of fields of weed are based around a high risk illegal industry, no risk no reward.

    Which it will continue to be as long as selling is prohibited under this proposed model, no?

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

  • SimonD,

    No because if you can grow it for nothing the why would you buy it. To keep the price high there would need to be some sort of Cannabis OPEC in order that the market isnt flooded with excess bud. This is becoming a bit of a circular argument. However I maintain that to institute this regime would cost very little and would risk very little. If in a year or two there are still tinnie houses all over the place and nothing has improved then take the next step and all commercial sales but I truly fail to see how commercial selling wont result in big tobacco moving in. Maybe not overnight but the next time we have a tory government its a done deal.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to SimonD,

    I truly fail to see how commercial selling wont result in big tobacco moving in.

    Isn’t the model for commercial retail without big business Uruguay?

    if you can grow it for nothing the why would you buy it.

    As a number of people implied over the page, if you can’t grow it why wouldn’t you buy?

    This is becoming a bit of a circular argument

    Indeed and the timing is strange given possession has theoretically just been decriminalised prompting this response cross thread

    This is a big thing indeed…I can’t sleep I am so excited. Waited over 40 years for the day when I can grow a couple of plants for my own very modest use without fear of police prosecution or public condemnation. I don’t know about anyone else but I will be out shopping this weekend for a grow tent ( as it’s a bit late for outdoors).Yes I know it’s still technically illegal…. but the change is clear and faster than I thought it could be.

    Essentially meaning the conditions advocated for when this was published, for all intents and purposes now exist – so I guess it’s only a matter of time until we see whether this prompts enough people to put seeds down to kill the black market or whether folk with the means continue to favour convenience.

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

  • SimonD,

    No Uruguay is not a commercial model. The cannabis is supplied through chemist shops to registered purchasers and grown by order of a government agency. Nothing like a commercial model. And no the current directive to treat drug possession as a health issue rather than a criminal one is by no means a law change to allow personal cultivation. A good first step but not what Mt Beets so eloquently argues for.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to SimonD,

    I feel that’s rather resorting to semantics to sidestep my point, as the article states:

    The government allows only two private companies to produce commercial cannabis

    i.e. a ’model for commercial retail without big business’

    as a response to "commercial selling"

    as in ’cannabis is supplied through chemist shops’

    i.e. commerce: the exchange of goods and services, especially on a large scale

    in contrast to what you are proposing which allows for no legal commerce whatsoever and posits that the black market will die out of its own accord, despite there being no precedent within the capitalist system and in spite of commentators including Nic himself claiming to have no aptitude for horticulture – a position which continues to confound me given one would have assumed one of the chief purposes of decriminalisation is to cut the black market out of the industry and put health first.

    As for the latter point – which I’ll concede was a bit cheeky – given you expect a dwindling black market to persist under your model – the burden of proof will remain heavily on the grower wrt cultivation not being for the purposes of sale – which will continue to soak up valuable police resources; i.e. it’s not so much of an alternative to the current model as a loophole for that hobbyist minority with the will and the means to grow their own which quite disregards that the bulk of consumers lack both the patience, ability and inclination to engage in gardening to get high. It’s an argument that has been comprehensively debunked wrt food insecurity:

    the underlying judgement is that when people do not grow their own food it is due to laziness and a lack of initiative. There is the assumption that people living with poverty and food insecurity have the time, resources, knowledge, support, space, physical ability and good health to prepare and maintain a garden.

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

  • Moz, in reply to mark taslov,

    the will and the means to grow their own which

    I can just imagine the councils being thrilled when a whole bunch of people want to use their community garden spaces to grow pot. What could possibly go wrong?

    Even in NZ, not everyone has the space to grow pot. Saying “in a pot, indoors” doesn’t fix the problem, merely changes it. Unless you’re assuming that pot users are entirely middle class or rich (in which case, why aren’t the Police doing the rounds of suity types with their anti-drug campaigns?) I suspect the next thing we'll see is a very carefully drafted standard lease term "no cannibis" being used by a lot of landlords. Housing NZ not excluded.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1142 posts Report Reply

  • SimonD,

    No much to be frank. It’s a pretty harmless plant compared to gorse, old mans beard or privet to name just a few that are growing unchecked in rental properties across the country. It’s not poisoness like Castor oil plant and unless smoked or baked is pretty innocuous. If my tenants had it in the garden I’d be pretty relaxed as long as they didn’t smoke inside.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • SimonD,

    “despite there being no precedent within the capitalist system” Welcome to the bold new world of doing something that no one else has done.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Good strategic move here, especially as Can't-abis campaigners Family First are already humming and hahing about the dangers of "Big Pot" given Bob McCoskrie's recent Colorado visit. So why aren't they campaigning as vigorously against breweries and tobacco companies?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 505 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    You can't seriously expect legislation to prevail over human nature. People have been trading stuff for millennia, and money is just media for easing that process. Laws that don't work are never a good idea.

    That said, I agree with Nic that keeping big business out of it is preferable. Restricting sales to individuals and co-operatives seems to me a good option. However, there's the problem of potency specification and the reliability thereof. As long as we have a large portion of the population with mental health problems, we need safety and surety in our medication.

    Stressed-out people get help from the ally. Castenada was right to alert us to the relevance of shamanic practice to contemporary society back in 1970, and just because generations born since are too thick to get the point doesn't mean they can't be helped into getting adept. All it takes is gnosis around the individual's susceptibility, and learning that one toke is often all you need to shift consciousness from a problem state into a solution state. Many of us have known that for a very long time. And the thing about the cognoscenti is that it ought not to be an elite. Gnosis is shareable. It ought to seep into the community.

    So there will always be a role for expert guidance to help people learn their own levels of tolerance in regard to intake. We've had several generations learning the wrong way to do it: getting blotto via excess just turned them into vegetables. Time for being clever instead is approaching.

    I think commercial providers of extracts with reliable potency specs will be essential to the health & therapy dimensions of cannabis usage. I'd prefer govt science oversight and regulation be imposed on them so the public has assurance of quality control in the industry.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    That said, I agree with Nic that keeping big business out of it is preferable. Restricting sales to individuals and co-operatives seems to me a good option. However, there’s the problem of potency specification and the reliability thereof. As long as we have a large portion of the population with mental health problems, we need safety and surety in our medication.

    Same. That's why I'm for regulated commercial production and some no-profit solution at retail. One of the bonuses of regulated production in the US is that weed is now screened for mould and pesticides, both of which are bad things to be inhaling. We don't have that here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Again, the DHB makes a public health statement about alcohol harm:

    "Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity. It is an intoxicant, toxin, and addictive psychotropic drug,” the DHB concludes. “Alcohol has been normalised and largely accepted by society, and causes more harm than any other drug in society.

    “Harm from alcohol is not limited to those with alcohol addiction and dependence, but affects even those that drink low to moderate amounts."

    And an industry that produces it for its own profit responds in the same way it always has.

    "I think the focus needs to be far more on the people who are consuming to excess, rather than the population as a whole . . . the big picture is that consumption of alcohol in New Zealand is not rising.

    “Some people have problems. But the answer to that issue is not by imposing costs on everyone else . . . what you have got from the likes of anti-alcohol groups is a formulaic response based on tobacco."

    The Auckland DHB isn’t an anti-alcohol group as such, yet that big alcohol spokes person just used that ‘formulaic response’ to try to undermine the seriousness of they’re message, and trivialise any public concern.

    That power of persuasion, is something big business can buy. So regulations around advertising dope please! It’s not, like alcohol, an essential part of our personal and national identities. It’s still just going to be dope. But like Russell Brown said, it would be better to check its got no pesticides and mould. Treat it like any other pharmaceutical if it's at a retail counter.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4076 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7776 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Here’s something colourful. Lion has acquired Havana Coffee Works. I also notice Lion New Zealand also owns Hopt Soda, which is low in sugar.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4076 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Medicann, founded in March last year, has been placed into liquidation after investing $3m in the business.

    Company chair and Tauranga GP Dr Franz Strydom describes competing factions within the business making his job difficult. There's also just a little whiff of possible fraud in the story.

    Strydom said he had serious concerns about the high salaries some of the executives were giving themselves, particularly given that this came out of investor money.

    He also said he had no say in the matter when some executives decided to give themselves increases.

    He also said that he had referred the matter to the Financial Markets Authority to investigate the matter.

    "I initially approached the Serious Fraud Office, but they told me that there wasn't enough money involved and that I should go to the FMA," Strydom says.

    This gives Medicann the unenviable title of the first ever Kiwi cannabis firm to go bust.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

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