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:
Indeed, well said.
I welcome genuine carefully considered evidence based debates from anyone, regardless of which country they are from - but inviting over disingenuous people who peddle ideology and propaganda on important issues is foolish and dangerous. I said at the time. when they invited Sabet to NZ Cannabis Conference in 2013 it was woefully misguided.
But the New Zealand Drug Foundation have courted Kevin Sabet a number of times and described him as a "Titan of global drug policy" - so there should be little surprise that Sabet has connections, influence and is welcomed here in New Zealand -because NZDF have validated Sabet as a reliable and respected source for understanding cannabis issues.
The New Zealand Drug Foundation had invited Kevin Sabet to speak at the first Cannabis conference some years earlier - so inviting him a second time is indeed perplexing - but as you say they also invited Mark Kleiman and Wayne Hall from the International Narcotics Control Board!
I'm quite sure they were all invited because NZDF respected them and their contribution to the conference.
Indeed, after Sabet's visit the NZDF also published a piece entitled "Cracking Good Prevention" citing Sabet and asserting: "We know cannabis can cause harm, so how do we prevent people from using cannabis". https://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/matters-of-substance/november-2013/cracking-good-prevention/
I think when the Law Commission Review of the MDA 1971 was released in 2011 with a host of radical drug law reforms (including the abolition of the MDA), NZDF sat on the fence and played it safe supporting both sides. The NZDF working closely with Assoc Minister Peter Dunne resulted in a decade of inertia and lost opportunities - so it's hardly surprising to see Sabet's current support and influence in New Zealand.
Rather than reform, the 2010's saw a tightened grip of US styled anti-drug policies:
- US styled drug testing of beneficiaries
- US modelled Drug Abstinence Courts with drug testing & scram tags
- The Meth House Testing Scam
- A new Compulsory Assessment & Treatment of Addiction Act
- The Psychoactive Substances Act (that made every NPS illegal once and for all)
Whereas the decade actually began with the Law Commission who after four years of inquiry delivered a comprehensive 350pp. report that provided the mandate for NZ Drug Reform that Govt. & lead NGO’s have largely ignored including:
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 should be repealed and replaced by a new Act, which should be administered by the Ministry of Health.
There should be a statutory presumption against imprisonment in cases of social dealing.
It should no longer be an offence to possess utensils for the purpose of using drugs
A mandatory cautioning scheme should be established for all personal possession and use offences.
The pro's and con's of the cannabis referendum needs to be informed by science and evidence - not by the dubious ideologically driven propaganda peddled by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and their President Kevin Sabet.
We don't welcome SAM's questionable contribution to this cannabis referendum, but unfortunately their President, Kevin Sabet already has a well established relationship with the New Zealand Drug Foundation. Sabet has been invited to New Zealand twice now to help shape our drug policy on cannabis.
So he may be forgiven for wondering why his contribution on cannabis is suddenly not welcome.
Prior to the NZ Cannabis & Health Conference in 2013, I unsuccessfully argued against Sabet's invite - but here he is at that NZ conference speaking about, believe it or not, 'preventing and treating cannabis use':