Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: UNGASS and the "Drug Free World" illusion

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  • Russell Brown,

    Well this is interesting:

    Moves to allow "drug-checking" at nightclubs and music festivals have won support in principle from Peter Dunne.

    After a Kapiti man died of a suspected drug overdose on Tuesday, and several fatal overdoses were reported in Australia this summer, the Drug Foundation said drug-checking kits could save lives.

    Dunne, the associate health minister responsible for drugs, said he was open to allowing the kits, even though it could be politically contentious.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Indeed. Perhaps the cracks are really starting to show. Australia's change of heart might be another nudge. After all, CER demands we retain parity... ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report

  • andin,

    but even more to be made once the war ends and legal distribution becomes the order of the day.

    That is the worst motivation for a just cause EVER!
    When everyone becomes a law unto themselves
    Chaos reigns supreme, and the Trumps of this world rise to the surface
    Could we just not go down that route
    probably too late...(sigh)

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Did anyone notice Peter Dunne at harold today. Things could be on the up.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report

  • Alfie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Moves to allow “drug-checking” at nightclubs and music festivals have won support in principle from Peter Dunne.

    Well done Peter Dunne -- it's refreshing to see harm reduction being given a greater priority.

    In marked contrast, across the ditch NSW premier Mike Baird has his own answer to the problem of untested and sometimes dodgy drugs being used at gigs -- just shut down music festivals by refusing to grant permits for events on public land.

    In response, the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation have announced a private initiative to provide trials of pill testing at music festivals, with or without government approval.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Daniel Carr,

    Given the complete lack of consensus on the UNGASS principles, what are the chances that more countries will withdraw from the convention altogether? Were there any consequences for Bolivia when it did? If no one believes that it actually works, is there a will to punish small and medium powers that withdraw? Is there some sort of benefit to being part of an international framework, even if it fundamentally flawed and is causing a huge amount of harm?

    There seems to be a growing chorus of people pushing a softly softly, low hanging fruit sort of agenda. Their demands are to legalize weed, allow pill testing and stop criminalizing users of other drugs. Why not just call bullshit on the whole thing and end prohibition?

    Could a small power like New Zealand, or a middle power like Australia, just withdraw from the convention and get away with it? I would imagine they would unilaterally declare that they will not import any drugs, produce them all within their borders, and viciously prosecute anyone who attempts to export them.

    What do people think? To me it seems that the moderate road lacks coherence. The best it can aim for is that it is less destructive than the status quo. We know the system is fundamentally flawed, could we actually solve the problem instead of just mitigate some of it's negative effects?

    Melbourne • Since Jun 2015 • 10 posts Report

  • Alfie,

    Here’s a court case which may set a precedent. A woman from Golden Bay appeared in Nelson Court charged with importing medicinal cannabis products and five other related charges. She has a US prescription for medical cannabis and received a discharge without conviction.

    The judge recognised that it should not matter whether the medication is carried into New New Zealand by the patient or posted to them. Either way there was no good reason to criminal sanction a person who was using prescribed pain relief for good reason."

    So a visit to a US doctor may override this uncompassionate law. I guess that’s good news.

    Sadly, at the bottom of that story there’s an unrelated case of a 45 year old woman from Takaka who was fined $500 in the very same Court, on the same day, for cultivating marijuana to treat her MS.

    Go figure.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Alfie,

    Progress in the UK with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Leap) calling for a new approach to the war on drugs with the emphasis on harm minimisation rather than enforcement.

    Former and serving police officers and officials from Britain, Europe and the US have told politicians in Westminster that the “war on drugs” is lost and they must take the trade out of the hands of organised crime.

    They called for an evidence-based approach to drug use in the UK that seeks to not only minimise harm but also allow for the potential benefits that certain illegal drugs can have.

    In related local news, Martin Crowe was self-medicating with cannabis oil in preference to undergoing continued chemotherapy.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Alfie,

    There's more kerfuffle on the so called "loophole" which allows the import of legally prescribed medicinal cannabis. And there's still some confusion over the way Customs will choose to interpret the current law.

    That story quotes Peter Dunne as saying "he believed the legalisation of medicinal cannabis was likely within two years and would make the loophole redundant."

    With the UNGASS meeting coming up next month, a commission of medical experts convened by The Lancet and Johns Hopkins University is calling for global drug decriminalisation and an end to the war on drugs.

    We live in interesting times.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Alfie,

    We live in interesting times.

    A few more exceptions for those fated to die in these "interesting times" wouldn't hurt, surely.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report

  • Alfie,

    The Lancet/Johns Hopkins study has inspired more informed conversation on NZ's approach to drugs.

    Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has this morning reiterated the Government's commitment to review drug policy and make sure drug offending is primarily seen as a health matter.

    It's starting to feel like common sense may finally be about to prevail. Hopefully.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Alfie,

    There's more on the Government relaxing a little about cannabis on Stuff, including a poll which asks, Are you in favour of a softening in stance for minor drug offenses? At this early stage it's 89% in favour.

    There's an odd quote from Jonathan Coleman.

    "I think we've got too many drugs in society. Cannabis is very carcinogenic - I don't think it'd be a great thing to have more people smoking more cannabis," Coleman said.

    Dr Colman claims that weed is not only carcinogenic but very carcinogenic. That sounds serious. As a medical doctor and Health Minister you might expect Colman to be well-informed on this subject, or perhaps not. Cancer Research UK says it's complicated but cites a NZ study.

    A New Zealand study in 2008 compared people with lung cancer to people who did not have lung cancer and found that regular cannabis use does increase the risk of lung cancer.

    Our own Drug Foundation pretty much debunks this myth (thanks Ross), and refers to a three decade study by Donald Tashkin of the University of California which concluded, "even smoking as many as 20,000 cannabis joints does not increase the risk of lung cancer."

    Tashkin's study goes further, speculating that cannabis could even have a positive effect on the health of a smoker’s lungs.

    The active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol or THC may have an “anti-tumoural effect” in which cells die before they age enough to develop mutations that might lead to lung cancer.

    I'd rather government ministers based decisions on fact, rather than philosophy. This appears to be a drugs R bad view, rather than a strongly-held anti-smoking belief. After all, Dr. Colman blew cigar smoke at a woman during a U2 concert in 2006, while sitting in a corporate box as a guest of... wait for it... British American Tobacco.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alfie,

    I think your mistake here Alfie is treating something Coleman said on the issue as a statement made in good faith.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Alfie,

    “even smoking as many as 20,000 cannabis joints does not increase the risk of lung cancer.”

    Wow. I did not know that. I assumed that smoking weed would be similarly as bad as tobacco. So no need to press for legalised cannabis to be in pills or puffers to avoid lung cancer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report

  • Alfie, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    It's complicated Brent. Smoking any substance is really not that good for you so the smart people recommend vapourisers. Or edibles.

    Or (cough, cough), both.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Alfie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think your mistake here Alfie is treating something Coleman said on the issue as a statement made in good faith.

    You're right Russell, and I fear the minister's problem could be symptomatic of deeper issues. Take these two news stories from today.

    Such as this open letter signed by more than 70 medical specialists calling for a sugar tax. Despite an overwhelming body of evidence and a recent Herald poll (11,700 responses) showing more than 80% of voters would approve of a sugar tax, Coleman wasn't moved.

    Despite what the letter said, Dr Coleman did not agree that there was more evidence supporting the effectiveness of a tax on sugary drinks than the 22 strategies in the Government's existing plan to combat obesity in kids.

    Evidence? What evidence? Katherine Rich couldn't have put it better.

    Another example. There have been numerous complaints since the Southern DHB decided to go along with the government's plan to ditch local hospital kitchens and truck in frozen meals from Auckland. They're supplied by some airline caterer but a multinational, in this case Compass Group, gets to clip the ticket along the way. Naturally.

    Photos of the food being served show varieties of bland slop, the ODT has been filled with reader criticism and numerous meals on wheels clients have cancelled the service.

    Cue Dr Coleman. He arranged an unscheduled, media-excluded spin session today where he promised to actually taste the food. Or some food, at least. It's unclear whether the food served to the minister was identical to that being forced upon the poor patients, but Coleman felt moved enough to pronounce it as being "excellent". Uh huh.

    Fellow Nat MP Michael Woodhouse even tweeted a photo of Coleman looking at the dish with the comment, "Very Yummy!" Almost all the responses tend to disagree with the minister's opinion.

    Of course Coleman wouldn't want the media present. The video showing his nose growing would quickly become a meme once John Oliver got hold of it.

    Coleman... good faith? My arse.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Steve Barnes,

    I have never been a great fan of fiction writing so I read very little anymore, apart from technical manuals and the like, the MSM just seems like a lifestyle mag these days.
    So, the picture I have of the world is framed in terms of fiction, believable but true?.
    The concept of “Harm Reduction” in relation to all kinds of laws, in my view, is that as little harm as possible is done to those with the power, drugs are bad because they may harm the profits of the Alcohol Industry, the Tobacco Industry gets away with harming mere people because they contribute so much to the “economy” and they got there first so drugs are bad…
    It beggars belief that this is the case but History is full of cases where harm to humans is regarded as secondary to the profits of the powerful and in many cases, drugs are the excuse for offensive action, just look at South America ( The War on Democracy )
    As for Sugar, you are up against powerful interests, USDA for one with the influence of the corn growers lobby and Coca Cola, to name but three..
    So, if what you are after is the freedom to do whatever you like to yourself just remember, your body is merely a part in their machine and that machine is there to make a profit for those with the power and the money.

    The Corn refiners have an interesting take….
    High Fructose Corn Syrup=Good…
    Go figure…

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report

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