Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Scientology front operation behind the "No" campaign on cannabis

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  • Joe Boden,

    These developments are genuinely alarming. I'm pleased there was a One News story about this last night - New Zealanders will rightfully hate the idea of US-based political interference in our referendum. And yes, I'm aware of the irony. ;)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It seems worth noting that the Church of Scientology has also been exploiting the Covid crisis by distributing bogus leaflets in Auckland. They contain a QR code that links to a Scientologist "course".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    This is just standard operating practice for Scientology – they have long had a thing about being in competition with Psychology/Psychiatry and the drugs that they prescribe … and as an extension all drugs.

    NZ actually held a government inquiry into scientology in the late 60s by Sir Guy Powles (later our first ombudsman) which produced a report into scientology in NZ – if found that they were incredibly abusive to their members and particularly ex-members – scientology promised to change, but didn’t.

    Oh yeah, and they believe our real problems are that we’re all haunted by murdered space aliens, and for a large sum of money they can help you with that.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • John McKinnon,

    Thanks for this Russell. I'm glad somebody with your good sense is playing a high profile role in this campaign. The actual wording of the referendum which emphasises taking control will hopefully work in favour of best practice.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Buchanan,

    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':

    Wellington • Since Jul 2020 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong, in reply to Julian Buchanan,

    The pro’s and con’s of the cannabis referendum needs to be informed by science and evidence

    I disagree. The referendum is about justice. Nobody is suggesting recreational drug use is in anyway scientifically good for peace of mind, sense of well being, quality parenting, better driving, improved coordination, short sentences, logical discourse, appetite control, proof reading....

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 68 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    our real problems are that we’re all haunted by murdered space aliens

    Man that is so out there , the sort of thing you could well hear from a really really stoned person .

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Johann Schoonees, in reply to Simon Armstrong,

    I disagree with your disagreement. It's about health, not justice. See the evidence: https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/10-06-2020/what-40-years-following-thousands-of-nz-people-tells-us-about-cannabis-harm/

    Since Mar 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Richard Aston,

    L Ron Hubbard's 'Fear' inspired Philip K Dick to do what he did...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Man that is so out there , the sort of thing you could well hear from a really really stoned person .

    You're not far from the truth, reportedly Hubbard developed a pills and booze habit some time in the late 60s and had to be locked up while he went cold turkey - his first sighting of small black space aliens crawling on his skin supposedly comes from the DTs he experienced during this process.

    What's really sad is how much of this crap I know about, I was part of the first Internet vs. Scientology kerfuffle (on the side of the Internet of course, $cientology was trying shut down UseNet newsgroups) on the plus side I did get to meet Xenu

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Armstrong,

    The pro’s and con’s of the cannabis referendum needs to be informed by science and evidence

    I disagree. The referendum is about justice. Nobody is suggesting recreational drug use is in anyway scientifically good for peace of mind, sense of well being, quality parenting, better driving, improved coordination, short sentences, logical discourse, appetite control, proof reading….

    I know a few perfectly okay people who’d beg to differ on some of those. But the thing is, it’s about justice and science. There’s plenty of evidence to show the public health benefits of taking the criminalisation out of cannabis.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Johann Schoonees,

    I disagree with your disagreement. It's about health, not justice.

    I also disagree with Simon's disagreement. While "justice" has taken the lead for over 50 years, treat drugs as a health problem and justice naturally follows. And if our little country has learned one really important lesson lately, it's that following science can produce some great results.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    L Ron Hubbard’s ‘Fear’ inspired Philip K Dick to do what he did…

    O'K Ian. You made me look it up.

    In a letter to Peter Fitting written on June 11, 1970, Dick wrote: “What I am writing is really psychological fantasies, on the order of L. Ron Hubbard’s Fear, which impressed me very much, and still does. Without Fear I would never have come up with what I do.”
    ─ Phillip K. Dick.

    While I've consumed the odd Dick (that sounds worse than it is) I've never been able to bring myself to even look at a Hubbard. The experience of a friend in Auckland being indoctrinated in the late 70s -- the first one is ALWAYS free -- put me off the whole scientology shebang. Everything I've read since only makes them more evil.

    Tax-free evil... that pisses me off. Because any God invented by a scifi writer who specialises in psychological fantasies probably lacks omnipotency. He could be trumped by a lesser god such as Hebe, Eros, or in the case of National voters, money. Their "religion" is all smoke and unicorns.

    So thanks, Ian. That's another author illusion cruely shattered.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    And Russell. Thanks for putting this together and doing your bit to keep the evil forces away from our referendum. Much appreciated as usual.

    Now I'm off to read the Spinoff story about Aaron Banks playing cutesy with NZ First. Does NZ First really need another RWNJ scandal when they already have Shane Jones?

    Why is it that only bad actors want to interfere in our politics? Surely some good people could come to NZ and spread their light or vapourise cows or do something to make our collective lives better. But nah, we get Aaron Fucking Banks.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    The law is wrong. We saw the huge numbers lining up to buy legal highs and it looked like most of them formerly smoked weed. What we are currently doing is criminalising a large group of society for no reason. 52% of New Zealanders aged 15 – 45 admit to having used cannabis at some time, and 16% describe themselves as current users..
    About the same amount of people will smoke weed if it is legalised as do now. Some like it. Others will try it, have a bad experience and never take it again, Just like they do now when it is illegal. It wasn’t like numbers of smokers increased with legal weed. The science says that less teens smoke it if it is legalised and 50-65 year-old males are more likely to increase consumption.
    Justice and science, I reckon.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 365 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Scientology front groups seem to be how they operate everywhere. Apparently the best approach is to be relentless in exposing them to the public or decision maker (if not the public).

    So hopefully public knowledge of connection will become widespread

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1022 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Champion,

    Family First New Zealand annual returns totals
    2013 $397,534
    2014 $488,695
    2015 $455,330
    2016 $341,947
    2017 $434,918
    2018 $616,067
    2019 $736,778
    You notice the massive upswing in donations when he started this anti cannabis rant.
    https://www.register.charities.govt.nz/CharitiesRegister/ViewCharity?accountId=4bba90db-db89-dc11-98a0-0015c5f3da29&searchId=c7a973bc-8ecb-4e3c-95e2-8cd6d279e3d1#supportingDocumentsTab

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2020 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Champion, in reply to Julian Buchanan,

    Maybe because he was here in 2013 in lets call it the Dunne era.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2020 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    L Ron Hubbard’s ‘Fear’ inspired Philip K Dick to do what he did…

    Maybe, though Dick's driving forces were certainly broader than he gives Hubbard credit for. Apart from his own personal "episodes" there's the semi-autobiographical Confessions of a Crap Artist. His only non-scifi work, its major theme is wilful gullibility and its consequences. As Dick wrote of his creation, the obsessive-compulsive on-the-spectrum Jack Isidore in his foreword to a later edition, "He's a better man than I am."

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Simon Armstrong,

    Justice, science, and health are all involved; we are now re-evaluating the relative weights given to those approaches, and allowing science, rather than moral panic or political grandstanding, to inform health and justice to a greater extent than has been evident in much of the preceding century. Such a reappraisal is long overdue.
    And done right, it should lead to a carefully tested and evolving set of controls around drug use, rather than the single leap to an untested regime that some opponents fear.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1928 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Boden, in reply to linger,

    Justice, science, and health are all involved; we are now re-evaluating the relative weights given to those approaches, and allowing science, rather than moral panic or political grandstanding, to inform health and justice to a greater extent than has been evident in much of the preceding century. Such a reappraisal is long overdue.
    And done right, it should lead to a carefully tested and evolving set of controls around drug use, rather than the single leap to an untested regime that some opponents fear.

    Exactly this! :)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Elrod, in reply to Julian Buchanan,

    What were the arguments for inviting Sabet to speak?

    I noticed Sabet referred to Mark Kleiman, an American drug policy wonk, in the audience. Wayne Hall from Australia was among other foreign speakers invited. Sabet debated anti-prohibitionist Steve Rolles of Transform, UK.

    Surely foreign perspectives can be valuable (I'm Canadian), and there is merit in hearing and responding to opposing perspectives, but inviting Kevin Sabet to speak on cannabis policy is a bit like inviting Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis to speak on evolution by natural selection. Maybe Sabet was invited to add a bit of levity?

    The context and audience of a drug policy conference is a bit different than the context of a national referendum debate.

    Incidentally, Sabet is a Baháʼí. His faith forbids "non-medical" drug use.

    VIctoria, B.C., Canada • Since Jul 2020 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Buchanan, in reply to Matthew Elrod,

    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:

    Recommendation #1.
    The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 should be repealed and replaced by a new Act, which should be administered by the Ministry of Health.

    Recommendation #66.
    There should be a statutory presumption against imprisonment in cases of social dealing.

    Recommendation #71
    It should no longer be an offence to possess utensils for the purpose of using drugs

    Recommendation #73.
    A mandatory cautioning scheme should be established for all personal possession and use offences.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2020 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Elrod, in reply to Julian Buchanan,

    Thanks.

    Again, I don't think gathering foreign perspectives is a bad thing per se. The Canadian Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation invited Americans and visited states that have legalized to fact find and learn best practices, successes and mistakes. The house and senate committees gathered input from far and wide, including me and SAM.

    That said, at least one senator objected to SAM influence, while others, in the conservative party, visited SAM in the U.S. and distributed their propaganda to committee members.

    Sabet and SAM seem obviously intellectually dishonest and ideological to those familiar with cannabis and cannabis policy, but Sabet's smarmy approaches are persuasive to the uninitiated or those looking for reasons to resist reform. The trick, then, is how to draw a defensible line between SAM. Alex Berenson, etc. and foreigners worth hearing from.

    VIctoria, B.C., Canada • Since Jul 2020 • 3 posts Report Reply

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