Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Illegal Tender

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Every time I see a quixotic policeman standing proudly by a burning pile of marijuana I laugh

    Billy T came up with the idea years before this - it's at the end of Billy T: Te Movie - but I couldn't find it on YouTube or NZ On Screen. So here's the next best thing.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I laughed at Senior Sargent Tim Anderson -

    Whenever I see a cop on tv
    it strikes me that something is wrong
    the the words that they speak could almost be Greek
    And I wonder... "what is he on?"

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    “what is he on?”


    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Strypey, in reply to Ross Bell,

    @Ross Bell
    That's a fascinating article, but it does frustrate me when journos make things up:
    "The policy implications are unexpected. Quite apart from any other effects, decriminalisation could have a significant negative economic impact on vulnerable regions. Eliminating the risk of prosecution would drive the price of cannabis through the basement. After all, in a legal market, growing cannabis would not be difficult or expensive."

    This guy doesn't even understand basic economics. Assuming the demand is going to be about the same, maybe slightly higher at first (by all means challenge me if you don't think that's a sound assumption), if supply started shooting up, and prices went down, fewer people would bother growing. Eventually it would find a point of compromise between what customers want to pay, and what makes it worth a grower's while to bother - that's how markets work. I suspect the average price would probably not be that far from the current price, although the Amsterdam experience suggests there would be a greater range of type and quality, and a range of prices along that spectrum.

    Secondly, if there is a lot more pot around, the same people will buy it (by and large), and their spending power isn't changing. So what will happen is that they will buy the higher quality product from what's available, and the buried crap that people currently buy just before harvest time won't get bought (likely it'll just get smoked by the growers and their mates, handed around in big joints at parties etc).

    Thirdly, he doesn't understand the flow of money through the economy. Currently, the cannabis market is one mechanism by which money from the city returns to marginal populations in the rural areas. The city is where most of the people who want cannabis are, and the country is the easiest place to increase cultivation. So even if he's right that cultivation increases (that's not a given, and depends on the regulatory framework that replaces prohibition), the only way law change would change the flow of money to those communities is if corporations are allowed to monopolize growing. This may be acceptable to the neoliberals among us, but I highly doubt it will be part of any imminent law change.

    "Cannabis use has the biggest economic impact on people with the lowest incomes – in that group, one in ten smokers spent a fifth of their income supporting their habit. Both buyers and dealers who spent more than 10 per cent of their income on cannabis were four times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population."

    This is misleading too. Reverse the order of that last sentence:
    "Both buyers and dealers who were unemployed were four times more likely to be spending more than 10 per cent of their income on cannabis than the rest of the population."

    They aren't necessarily spending more, you see, it's just a higher proportion of the pittance they live on than it is for employed, middle class smokers. Also, see what a difference to the perceived cause and effect relationship it makes when you put it that way? The journo's sentence implies (without actually claiming it) that they are unemployed *because* they spend such a high proportion of their income on cannabis. Bullshit.

    Besides, these are the people who, without prohibition, would be growing their own, instead of paying for it, but they're stuck in the city looking for a job, so they have to buy it.

    Then there's this from Dennis O'Reilly, who should know better (or maybe he does and the journo has reworded it):
    “That’s where you’ll get someone who’ll score an ounce off a cuzzy and break it into foils to sell off to satisfy their habit as well as make some money.”

    What he's describing is a basically an informal consumer coop, like when people group together to buy flour and other dry goods in bulk from a wholesaler, so they all get it cheaper, and maybe pay one person a bit of a commission for doing all the admin and running around, allowing his "satisfy his habit" for food. Amazing the power of words to make something relatively benign sound like something shady (remember: overeating and poor diet kills more people than cannabis).

    Ōtepoti • Since Aug 2012 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Strypey, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    That video looks like something from the Onion. Suspicious hamster is suspicious...

    Ōtepoti • Since Aug 2012 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Strypey,

    Earth to David Fergusson: Cannabis is less dangerous than tobacco:

    Tobacco is legal. Cannabis is illegal. Explain again why you are not either supporting cannabis legalization, or calling for prohibition of tobacco? Oh yes, confirmation bias. Maybe you need to see a pschologist...

    Ōtepoti • Since Aug 2012 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Strypey,

    Besides, these are the people who, without prohibition, would be growing their own, instead of paying for it, but they're stuck in the city looking for a job, so they have to buy it.

    I think poor people who like dope would grow it, for sure. But so would anyone else who likes it, if there was no reason not to. It's easy to grow. So the price would struggle to be above the cost of similar volumes of leafy plant material in the supermarket. In other words, cannabis would cost as much as cabbage. It would barely be worth cultivating for sale, except on a massive scale.

    I'd expect more to be smoked. But it wouldn't be a "sky's the limit" thing. Most people who like dope already smoke as much of it as they want, because it's not very expensive, considering how strong it is. Alcohol is more expensive, for a similar length of intoxication, but not everyone is a boozer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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