Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Stop acting like the law is someone else's responsibility

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to mark taslov,

    In terms of our elected representatives, limiting our criticisms to John Key seems parochially partisan given the cowardice and share ineptness shown by our would-be leaders across the spectrum – for a couple of days last week I was a prospective Labour voter.

    Key was the one interviewed all over the place today and the one who said the most untenable things. But most of all, he’s the one who’s spent six years saying his party will never change a word of the drug laws.

    That said, jesus, it’s frustrating that Labour can’t manage a more coherent or useful stance. This we-support-a-referendum-no-maybe-we-don’t thing is just embarrassing.

    They’ve all convinced themselves it’s a political third rail. Even the Greens’ policy is obscure: nowhere does it actually use the words “legalise” or “decriminalise”.

    But I can tell you that if it came to a vote – say, for a private members’ bill – the big obstacle is the National caucus. Most of them are bluntly opposed and don’t care about the evidence

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/opinion/patrick-gower/john-key-and-his-vineyard-investments-2010052616

    J.K's drug of choice, unlike cannabis, is actually physically addictive.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    it’s frustrating that Labour can’t manage a more coherent or useful stance

    Broadly boggling how any political party came to accept consistent messaging as a 'nice to have' rather than a core competency.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Sacha,

    To be fair though Sacha, even consistent messaging wouldn’t be a bad start, Mr Key by contrast appears entirely lost in the shop. the message being sent by his Government to teenagers and the wider community in this neck of the woods is that the National Party simply don’t care.

    I hope Maggie Barry has time to take him aside to explain how people manufacture the spuds and kumara that find their way onto his dinner plate.

    Despite the clarity in the wording with regard to growing a small amount for personal use, tonights Newshub segment rounded off with John Key at sea in his own circular argument that we’d need shops to sell it but no one wants a tinny house at the end of their street.

    Perhaps his advisors (anyone?) could explain the poll to him.

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

  • Moz, in reply to mark taslov,

    we’d need shops to sell it but no one wants a tinny house at the end of their street

    In that context, the list of "no-one wants a business selling X at the end of their street" has a lot of values of X, from aeroplanes, buses and coal to zebras. Pot is just one in the middle of the list.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1232 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I thought Little's response on Morning Report was perfectly coherent. He is opposed to decriminalization and he stated his position as to why honestly. You may not agree with him, but his opinion is rooted in a reasonable view that - unlike Key - is honestly held.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    And to be frank, sometimes these things have to happen in an incremental manner. Surely the important thing is to have medicinal cannabis derivatives decriminalised first and then worry about recreational cannabis later? That appears to be what happened in the United States.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    That said, I am in favour of a streamlined and rationalised Misuse of Drugs Act 1981 which would eliminate 'Class C' altogether and focus attention on Classes A and B. P/crystal meth is a far greater problem in terms of magnitude and scale of its effects than pot can ever be.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    But positions that aren’t based on evidential or philosophical foundations are easier to abandon than considered positions.

    I'm not sure if that is true. I'd have thought the opposite. I'd like it to be true, but on evidential grounds (:-)) I believe it to be false. It's much, much harder to abandon irrational beliefs than rational ones. They are, by definition, not the product of reason, and are thus somewhat immune to reason.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    They abandon positions based on polling, not reason.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    They abandon positions based on polling, not reason.

    I hope so, in this case, but I'm not optimistic. It's been a hostage to nonsense and arbitrariness since forever. I can fully see people high up making it their only personal contribution, ever, to have frustrated the progress of cannabis reform. Not just high up, but particularly importantly, in the political center. Both Winston Peters and Peter Dunne can make it the cross that they die on and happily go to their graves thinking they did the world a favor.

    The people I know who are the most strongly against reform are those who have never even tried cannabis. Their lack of any personal experience and contextualization only strengthens their opposition to it. They have cliche ridden views, and the more often you point out statistics on the matter, the more trenchant they become.

    But the fact that the general population is slowly moving across is encouraging.

    And to be frank, sometimes these things have to happen in an incremental manner.

    Don't get me started on that. Sometimes also, the only way lasting change can really happen is in a massive surge. Incrementalism sometimes works, and sometimes it stands squarely right across the path of progress.

    As I understand it (and I can't claim to be any kind of expert) it's pretty much lore in the business world that incremental change is actually the hardest to manage, and if you want to change things, it's way better to do a lot of it at once.

    I'm not against incremental change. I'm just against incrementalism as an ideology. Unless you count a massive change as an incremental step as well, in which case I'm not even really sure what incrementalism is. But we've had this debate before. For now, I'm content to say that the gradual incremental change of public opinion is at least encouraging. If it leads to a giant sea change at some point, I won't be the one putting out the sea anchor in horror of a ship finally moving in the right direction because it might be going too fast.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    it seems to me outside of the law there has been massive incremental change... the poll reflects that - drugs are bad, m'kay... but pot not so bad, m'kay

    where there has been no change is from our politicians, if anything since Nandor left office and the whole synthetic cannabis disaster things have crept backwards

    I for one am more than ready for some actual change, in law and not just around medicinal purposes - we don't need a large influx of new patients looking to game the system and sympathetic doctors put into compromising positions

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Moz,

    “no-one wants a business selling X at the end of their street”

    One needn’t step too far out onto a limb to posit that the majority support shown for growing small amounts for personal use is in part fueled by people wanting that kiwi mainstay – the tinny house – removed from the end of our streets; not wanting tinny houses at the end of our streets being one of many lines that has been trotted out by decriminalisation advocates for decades. The cynic in me even wonders if his statement (sorry the actual quote wasn’t available when I posted above) isn’t the first step of a mighty about face:

    “You show me the communities who want to put up their hand and say I want a tinny house at the end of my street.”

    Because literally no one was talking about legalising tinny houses except our Prime Minister. Looking at examples of cannabis legalisation around the world, tinny houses – associated with crime, arms, lacing with fly spray and horse tranquilizer, a million wasted strips of Glad, and who knows what else – simply don’t feature. Their equivalents are displaced by heavily regulated dispensaries selling quality produce.

    Regardless of how many socially isolated journalists mindlessly trot out these soundbites:

    Are you worried about the sort of I suppose backlash? The Prime Minister yesterday said people wouldn’t want tinny houses at the end of their streets.

    The fact remains that thousands of New Zealanders already have tinny houses at the end of our streets, these are an unfortunate outcome of prohibition and we don’t want tinny houses at the end of anyone’s street.

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

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    I hope so, in this case, but I’m not optimistic. It’s been a hostage to nonsense and arbitrariness since forever. I can fully see people high up making it their only personal contribution, ever, to have frustrated the progress of cannabis reform. Not just high up, but particularly importantly, in the political center. Both Winston Peters and Peter Dunne can make it the cross that they die on and happily go to their graves thinking they did the world a favor.

    Dunne is actually the only party leader who has explicitly called for reform. And he’s the author of the really-pretty-good National Drug Policy. He’s changed, man. And Peters has been hot and cold on a referendum but would probably support one if it came to it – especially on medical cannabis, where he’ll be aware of the developing mood in Grey Power branches.

    Labour and its leader need to sit down and listen to some public health people.

    But the main obstacle remains the National caucus – I get the feeling a lot of them just don’t want to know anything.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I thought Little’s response on Morning Report was perfectly coherent.

    I guess my question would be, how coherent can support of an incoherent legislative approach truly be? The first issue with Mr Little’s position is that as Ian pointed out over the page:

    Key doesn’t get to govern based on his own wishes – has anyone explained that to him properly.

    Which should apply to any politician in a democracy, so while Andrew Little’s position bears many similarities with that of John Key

    broader liberalisation, not something I’m particularly fussed about

    I’m not entirely sure if you’re reading of that position is the same as mine.

    He is opposed to decriminalization

    He and John “I’m not a big fan” Key are opposed to official decriminalisation but not particularly fussed about our current de facto decriminalisation. Which is great for non maori. This is not a new issue, as I intimated earlier when referencing politicians ‘across the spectrum’, this has been going on for decades. I’ve had the police confiscate cannabis from me under the Bolger Government, under the Shipley Government and under the Clark Government, and I’m yet to be prosecuted, under the Key Government it looks like I'll be lucky to get a look in – I’m not going to fudge this, how awesome is it to be a pakeha in Aotearoa New Zealand? While police are arresting about 15,000 people a year for personal use and possession of cannabis, what are the odds? In the parlance of our Prime Minister – losers.

    Andrew Little:

    There are negative health effects for young people, young brains young minds, now the brain is still developing until the early twenties, and this is not, greater liberalisation of cannabis is not going to help when it comes to potential health effects there.

    Who knows? Introducing age restrictions might help. Allowing people to smoke in the fresh air of their back yard rather than being fearfully holed up behind closed doors exposing their children to second-hand cannabis smoke might help. Not putting mums in jail might help. Better access to health support without fear of being criminalised might help. Better public education will help. Whether the chief concern is helping young minds or placating small minds remains uncertain.

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

  • Martin Brown,

    Much as I enjoy this forum, I am missing RNZ's comments thread. On this and many other issues. I can't imagine they were attracting so many trolls it was impossible to manage. Perhaps just couldn't afford the salary of a part-time moderator.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Labour and its leader need to sit down and listen to some public health people.

    yep

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to mark taslov,

    how awesome is it to be a pakeha in Aotearoa New Zealand?

    Even better to be Pakeha. Will leave macron bonus for others but any ethnicity deserves Caps.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Sacha,

    Thanks for your understanding Sacha.

    So venturing back to Graeme’s question from another angle. Two key differences between the official endorsement of discretionary enforcement of the smacking law and the official endorsement of discretionary enforcement of cannabis use and possession laws are that firstly, one instance grants police the opportunity to seize material possession for personal gain with little recrimination while the other does not and secondly while the discretion expected to enforce the smacking law is contingent on certain expectations of human nature and a capacity for good judgement from officers, the discretion expected to enforce these cannabis laws ignores human nature and the capacity for bad judgement by police officers.

    This issue has been further exacerbated by the fact that until this year members of the New Zealand Police Force have enjoyed 155 years without a comprehensive drug testing program and even now the regime falls well short of what might be considered reasonable expectations for stamping out the types of corruption one is prone to suspect occurs when cannabis is confiscated without charges being laid:

    While details are still being developed, the plan is for all staff involved in critical incidents which have resulted in death or the discharge of a police firearm to undergo mandatory testing.

    Testing may also be required where a critical incident has resulted in serious injury, Clement said.

    Meanwhile, 500 staff involved in “safety-sensitive” roles would be subject to random tests from next year.

    So while the law as it is written was designed to protect the public from the harms of cannabis use and possession, a Prime Ministerial endorsement of discretionary enforcement of cannabis laws erodes safeguards that individual officers might reasonably expect from corruption by their peers.

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

  • mark taslov, in reply to Sacha,

    TLDR: The doubloons

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

  • Kumara Republic,

    Further proof that "not our problem" is a feature and not a bug for the usual suspects:

    RNZ Insight: Labour-Hire Companies - Exploitation or Opportunity?

    Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse declined Insight's request for an interview about labour-hire companies.

    A spokesperson from his office said the minister felt it wasn't appropriate to comment on the unfairness of unwanted long-term casual contracts because they were not illegal.

    O RLY, Mr Woodhouse? Underarm bowling wasn't illegal in 1981, but it certainly wasn't in the spirit of the game.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5434 posts Report Reply

  • Shane Le Brun,

    Nick smith is in the "too much harm I have seen due to cannabis" blah blah blah.. He kinda supports Pharma products, but he argues if Cannabis is so good, why are there not more products?

    The Irony is, we can grow for trials in NZ, but once those trials are done, we cant then grow for manufacture and retail of a final product that has successfully completed clinical trials. What a circle jerk! no one is going to put down 8 figures with no guarantee of going "retail" at the end of it...

    Since Mar 2015 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to mark taslov,

    Andrew Little:

    There are negative health effects for young people, young brains young minds, now the brain is still developing until the early twenties, and this is not, greater liberalisation of cannabis is not going to help when it comes to potential health effects there.

    I happen to think Andrew Little is wrong here, because I am of the view that legalisation and regulation would drastically reduce the availability of drugs to young people. But this is Little's view, and it seems an honestly held one, and so we know what we have to do convince him of to change his mind. Key is just a lying opportunist who can't sleep straight in bed at night.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    But this is Little's view, and it seems an honestly held one, and so we know what we have to do convince him of to change his mind. Key is just a lying opportunist who can't sleep straight in bed at night.

    What would Key and others like Peter Dunne have to lose from relaxing cannabis law? Large donations from Big Booze, Big Tobacco & Big Pharma, I'm guessing? Endorsements from the string-em-uppers?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5434 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He’s changed, man

    He's openly in favour of decriminalization?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

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