Hard News by Russell Brown


Drug Law Symposium Day One: This is actually real

Kia ora koutou! This the post for the first day of the 2017 Parliamentary Drug Law Symposium, which takes place in Wellington at a time when drug law is actually changing. 

To wit: Hon. Anne McLellan, chair of Canada's Chair, Task Force on Cannabis Legalisation and Regulation, and Alison Holcomb, whose work (from drafting Washington State's cannabis law to sentencing reforms in several US states) is all about material change, share case studies this morning. And then a panel of MPs representing every Parliamentary party responds.

Meanwhile, those same parties have material decisions before them. Henry Cooke reported yesterday on Stuff that at first reading Julie Anne Genter's medicinal cannabis bill has the support of the Greens, Labour, the Maori Party and Act, with Peter Dunne undecided, NZ First likely opposed – and National left with the pivotal decision of whether to allow the conscience vote that would almost certainly deliver the 12 votes needed to allow the bill through to select committee.

This is actually real. Genter herself acknowledges that the bill is not perfect or complete, but if it goes to select committee MPs will be obliged to listen to submissions and discuss and decide on what they do want. Some of them have spent a lot of energy avoiding doing that, but it's here now.

There are a few other things happening. As part of its week-long cannabis series What if it was legal?, Stuff will be streaming the McLellan-Holcomb case studies and the political responses on its Facebook page.

The Drug Foundation, whose symposium this is, will be providing live updates via Storify here on its website.

You can follow the event on Twitter via the hashtag #drugmaze17.

And of course, you can follow it here. I thought about liveblogging, but we don't have a template for that at present, so I'll post thoughts and updates in the comments for this post. I'm trying some new things. (You can, as ever, still read me on Twitter.)

The first thing, as you may have noticed, was the decision to see if people would be interested in in helping crowdfund this specific coverage via our PressPatron page. I'm happy to say that I've covered most of my costs in attending the symposium (ie: the fee and accommodation), which is great. Thanks so much to everyone who chipped in.

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