So experts in many fields, I would think, made a recommendation which they thought would benefit our society as a whole was just ignored because some business men didnt like it. As it would affect their industries "bottom line"?
Now that, is some arseoholic thinking, right there.
A lot of policy analysts were taken along for the ride by business, also. In 2011 I spoke to a group of policy analysts at the request of the Health Promotion Agency, and I told them flatly that the Alcohol Reform Bill would do almost no good because there were no reforms in it. They were not very pleased with my presentation that day.
An entirely reasonable idea, I just wonder how the liquor industry would like it. Not much I imagine with their work hat on, maybe a bit more with their caring parent hat on. A fragmented society breeds fragmented people hmmm.
I was just looking at the figures in the post. The Stuff article reads 10000 plants while the police info request reads 9000 plants taken. But hey whats a 1000 plants between police report and blazing headline.
The Law Commission recommended increasing the minimum age of purchase for alcohol to 20 years in 2010. This was roundly ignored during the discussions around "Alcohol Law Reform" in 2011, primarily due to industry pressure (I believe).
There's a forthcoming amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act which will explicitly guide police discretion away from prosecution where a health-based response would be more appropriate, or where prosecution would not be in the public interest. It's a pretty big deal.
My reading of that is the amendment is that it requires the Police to justify using prosecution, which in a sense is de facto decriminalization (which you already know I'm in favor of).
Hence my concern about giving the Police more discretion. On the whole I think it would be better if they had less.
When you give the Police full discretion, they tend to continue arresting those of us with higher levels of skin pigmentation...
I was recently interviewed for Patrick Gower's upcoming documentary about cannabis in New Zealand (in which I state that I would support a highly regulated legal regime!). His producer was telling me about some other interviewees who are already involved in growing, and they seem to be gearing up to be making some big money. It could just be wishful thinking... time will tell, I guess.
I wish I could be more optimistic, but if we look at what came out of Alcohol law reform, the only substantive thing we got was a private member's bill that reduced the allowable BAC to 0.05... and that was a total fluke.
I've been invited to have a discussion with some folks from the MoJ who are spearheading the development of the referendum, so I'm hoping to be able press our points with them in person.
A two-stage referendum sounds like a good idea, even if it is run at the same time. Hypothetical: Question 1: change or no change? Question 2: If change, rank choice for options for change. If there is a majority in favor of change on Q1, then the rank choice result for Q2 will indicate which direction we will go in.
Doug Sellman and I have an op-ed in the ODT today about the wording of the referendum.
That was a really interesting essay, thanks for posting that, Simon.
National's position on this is not smart politics. The usual response on such issues is to say "conscience vote" and let different MPs appeal to different constituencies. So on, for example, marriage equality, the MPs (like Bridges) who opposed it did not taint the whole party. The nods and winks said "We're conservative enough" to their base, while Key and co could legitimately say they voted for it, even spoke eloquently for it.
Giving Paula Bennett a new job title, announcing it at a press conference today ... they're basically declaring that they want the party to be seen as obstructionist. And all the National MPs who differ from their leaders will be forced to waffle and backtrack. Nuances like "conscience vote" won't cut through into public perception. Even if they are allowed one.
Backing a losing horse, and requiring the whole team to back it too - that won't end well.
I've just read the Stuff article; it's really nonsensical. Between this and my own experience with a fact-resistant National MP, I'm starting to wonder whether they are being subsidized to sing from the same hymn sheet.
I almost forgot to reply to Dennis, sorry about that!
I note that Joe has briefly commented above. I also note that he looks suspiciously similar to Frank Zappa in the early seventies! Anyway, good to see that he's willing to participate in the commentariat discussion of the issues.
If only I was that good looking! :)
The public have moved on beyond decriminalisation. The recent poll had 60% for legalisation. So why be so cautious? Here's the rationale:
"The Christchurch study involved 1265 people born in 1977 and studied to the age of 35. More than 75 per cent reported using cannabis, with about 15 per cent developing a pattern of heavy use and dependence at some point."
"Data showed cannabis use was associated with educational delay, welfare dependence, increased risks of psychotic symptoms, major depression, increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, increased risks of tobacco use, increased risks of other illicit drug use, and respiratory impairment."
The risks listed here are valid concerns, and do correspond with my lifetime experience (a half-century of mediating between users & non-users, with personal usage for some periods within that). But those vulnerable to such consequences are only a small portion of the whole - 60% of the users studied didn't become victims of the habit. Eliminating the civil rights of all to protect a small bunch of users is ethically untenable. It's analogous to removing the right to drive cars because speeding drivers keep killing people.
I couldn't agree more. In fact, we noted in another publication that a full 50% of regular users at age 35 reported none of the problems that we had found to be associated with cannabis use in earlier studies, suggesting that for most at that age, cannabis use is pretty much harmless. The incremental approach we are suggesting will, in time, restore those civil rights.