Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cannabis: legalisation versus decriminalisation

8 Responses

  • Nick Russell,

    Regarding the decriminalisation argument - it is interesting to see there has been some research. But fundamentally, the whole argument about criminalisation disproportionately affecting Maori is a bit of a category error in this context. Maori suffer disproportionately from the illegality of cannabis because the Police are more likely to prosecute them. That's a problem with systemic racism in the Police. Making cannabis legal won't actually make that racism go away. Granted it will give the Police one less opportunity to behave in a discriminatory way. But you'd have to be pretty naive to think legalisation will result in lower rates of convictions or imprisonment for Maori.

    And I say this as someone who is voting yes...

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 129 posts Report

  • Neil,

    I keep getting the impression that with harm reduction the most at risk of harm are being ignored.

    The SACAT Act is basically unusable – very long delays in having someone placed under the act and then there won’t be an inpatient bed for them anyway.

    And a four month – and growing – waiting list at the Kari Centre doesn’t suggest any urgency on the part of the government to put funding where it is most needed.

    So the chances of a young person at very serious of harm from drugs getting the help they need is almost zero.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil,

    Acuteness is not the same as overall level of harm across a population, nor a guarantee of greatest benefit. It is natural when you work in acute care to think that should be the priority.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Neil, in reply to Sacha,

    I would have thought though that a policy predicated on harm reduction would pay special attention to those most at risk of harm.

    And perhaps one would have good reason to be sceptical of the ability of a health system that scrimps on acute care to deliver on promises for non acute care.

    The risk involved with a young person destroying their brain with solvents is not just to themselves but to the broader population who will have to cope with their often anti-social behaviour, fund their on-going increasing health and welfare needs and also deal with the moral responsibility of letting a young person destroy their life.

    There’s benefit to all in preventing that.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil,

    There are never enough resources to go around in any health system, so there will always be trade-offs about who receives which care.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • BenWilson, in reply to Nick Russell,


    But you'd have to be pretty naive to think legalisation will result in lower rates of convictions or imprisonment for Maori.

    Overall, maybe not, but it would lead to zero convictions and imprisonment for Maori for something that it also leads to few convictions and imprisonment for non-Maori, so that's a win for racial equality. Similarly for official decriminalization. It's this de-facto state of affairs now that allows for that brand of Pakeha hypocrisy.

    But sure, police racism would also be good to tackle more directly.


    Your entire line is not really on topic in this thread. I don't think you'll find many people arguing head to head with you that more assistance for those suffering most from any cannabis related harm is unwarranted - no matter what system we live under, including the current one.


    I just voted yes. Legalization is what is on offer. If decriminalization had been the only thing on offer I'd have supported that, even if I agree with Russell that it's not the right thing to do.

    I do not think the referendum will pass, though. It, and practically every other human concern, have been drowned out by the pandemic hysteria, and I don't anything even vaguely approximately political normality returning until we've got that out of our systems. Right now, people are voting out of fear, and that's not ever good for liberal reform. Labour's near majority is the NZ herd clustering around strong authority, in terror of the big bad world. I can't even bear to watch news any more. I'd feel real bitter about the referendum destruction if it wasn't the tiniest little piece of the overall destruction this years insanity has brought.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Neil, in reply to Sacha,

    Any trade off needs to be explicitly stated by the government so it can be transparently evaluated. Which is not happening.

    For example, the continued policy of starving acute mental health of resources has resulted in people with mental health issues spending more time in police cells. That’s a trade off that is most likely to be both financially less efficient and with lower health benefits than funding safe places within mental health.

    I bring this up because it’s an issue that gets very little coverage in the harm reduction discussion. Acute mental health needs more funding for harm reduction to be effective for those most in need and at risk..

    That would indeed cost money but let’s have that on the table so a choice can be made.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

  • Neil,

    Who becomes minister responsible for Oranga Tamariki will be very indicative.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

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