Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cannabis reform is not a mission to Mars

23 Responses

  • mpledger,

    We all know who the "nutters" are "running the place on political polling".

    Since Oct 2012 • 97 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,

    possession attracts a civil fine, like a traffic ticket

    Which might encourage cops to set up checkpoints and search every likely looking vehicle, or scour student residences with drug dogs in order to fill their ticket quota and bring money in. (That sort of thing has been reported in US states with an infringement regime for cannabis).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • andin,

    Karl du Fresne

    Man! does he just sit in splendid isolation writing that shit?
    he needs an ayahuasca cleanse immediately

    look at the data, listen to experts and question what you know.

    Sound advice but it might be beyond some of those people. They have a soapbox and something resembling an audience. And thats a drug (getting high off the sound of your own voice)

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    I read the Du Fresne piece. I came away profoundly grateful he hadn’t managed to work in the phrase “cultural Marxists”.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Which might encourage cops to set up checkpoints and search every likely looking vehicle, or scour student residences with drug dogs in order to fill their ticket quota and bring money in. (That sort of thing has been reported in US states with an infringement regime for cannabis).

    I think the revenue from expiation notices in South Australia goes into covering the costs of the scheme, but I don’t know what happens to any surplus.

    This 2000 paper looked at the outcomes of the first 13 years and found that cannabis use didn’t rise – but the number of offences processed really did:

    Impacts on law enforcement and criminal justice systems: The CEN scheme in South Australia had a major unanticipated effect on rates of minor cannabis offence detection. The number of offences for which cannabis expiation notices were issued increased from around 6,000 in 1987/88 to approximately 17,000 in 1993/94 and subsequent years (12). This “net-widening” is not related to any change in the pattern of cannabis use, but reflects the greater ease with which police can process minor cannabis offences, and a shift away from the use of police discretion in giving offenders informal cautions, to a process of formally recording all minor offences.

    Since the inception of the CEN scheme, the rate of payment of expiation fees has remained low, at around 50%. Substantial numbers of minor cannabis offenders received a criminal conviction for a cannabis offence as a result of their failure to pay expiation fees. The burden which this placed on the courts was not as severe as one might expect because significant numbers of those people who were issued with a summons chose the option of pleading guilty in writing and did not appear in person. The vast majority of those expiation matters dealt with by the courts resulted in convictions for the offenders, with similar fines imposed to the original expiation fees, plus the addition of court fees.

    There has been strong support by law enforcement and criminal justice personnel for the CEN scheme, and little support for a return to the former approach among those administering and enforcing the system (50). The CEN scheme has proven to be relatively cost-effective (8). The unit cost of issuing and processing an expiation notice, when paid on time, is estimated at approximately $30 per case. The total costs associated with the CEN scheme in 1995/96 were estimated to be around $1.2 million (not including police time in detecting the offence). Total revenue from fees and fines was estimated to be around $1.7 million. The cost-effectiveness would obviously be greater if the rate of expiation could be increased. It was also estimated that, had a prohibition approach been in place in South Australia in the same year, the total cost would have been around $2 million, with revenue from fines of around $1 million.

    The number of notices has settled down since, to about 9000 annually. But they’ve got a rather large meth problem keeping police busy.

    (Btw, check out the last two comments under that story. What is it with Australians and internment camps?)

    I don't think the traffic-ticket model is a particularly good one, but it plainly hasn't been the calamity that Hosking et al imagine in their minds.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Ross Bell,

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 175 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ross Bell,

    Report released this year on Aussie Decrim models:

    This seems pretty emphatic:

    There is clearly a strong public health benefit to people who use drugs being diverted away from the criminal justice system and this is not a radical idea – it is already happening,” says Dr Hughes. “The research evidence also indicates that decriminalisation reduces costs to the criminal justice system and improves social outcomes, such as increasing the likelihood that people who use drugs remain in or enter the paid workforce.

    “In contrast, there is no evidence that decriminalisation increases drug use or crime,” she adds.

    Should someone tell Mike?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • william blake,

    Du Fresne states that the drug foundation has 'issues' with alcohol requiring them to have some kind of ideological enema. It seems from their website that they treat alcohol just like any other drug and explain its toxicity and addictive properties. KdF seems to be suffering from some kind or bourgeois wet brain in seeing this as perjorative.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report

  • linger, in reply to william blake,

    But it's his drug of choice, so of course that's different.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report

  • BenWilson,

    I find it hard to argue about the best kind of decriminalization in good faith. I fundamentally cannot think of a "fair" fine or punishment to impose on a cannabis user. It could only be done as a bargain thing, in which I start from the position that there should be no fines, and the other extreme is arguing for no change, and we meet somewhere in the middle. But where in the middle and why? I can't see any way to reason that one. I literally don't accept any of the reasoning behind the punishments, so there's no way to be systematic, to find some kind of reason for a particular level of punishment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Ross Bell,

    I've just watched "Mike's Minute." Just... wow... lost for words. I thought he was actually smarter than that.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 175 posts Report

  • Ethan Tucker, in reply to andin,

    does he just sit in splendid isolation

    Depends if you define Masterton as splendid.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 119 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    What we need is a Reeferendum!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • kw, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    From the people who brought you a flag poll...

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2014 • 30 posts Report

  • Shulgin,

    flag pole...I get it..the government was flagging in the poles...steel poles from chyna...with no test certificates...I suppose at the bottom of that issue...is a public health concern, I mean water-view steel strands, and 8 million liters of shit in a Fletcher tank, right on the Manukau harbor foreshore. How is it that a private company can alter steel standards? Health concerns in the neo liberal economy?

    I think we have a 5000 year relationship with the plant, it wasn't until, Uncle Sam got involved that there became a war on a plant.

    "And there is a difference between "promoting" a product that carries public health risks and not criminalising people who may be at risk of health problems that only an oaf would need explained."

    An oaf, - I kinda like that paragraph...probably would want to know why, a steel standard can be changed on the whim of a cheap deal.

    and speaking of steel, 10,000 tonnes going into a convention centre....skyshity exchanges steel, for gambling machines....seeing as Hon Dunne, a one man partea, said the government does not plan to change the law...and Joji Key says he is not a massive fan of drugs...I suppose its a bit like going to mars in a steel spaceship - full of shit.

    Nice article Russell.

    NZ • Since May 2011 • 125 posts Report

  • william blake, in reply to Ross Bell,

    (Mikes’ )Marijuana Minute – Urban Dictionary

    A seemingly long period of time. It occurs most often when under the influence of marijuana due to the altered state of mind. An actually short moment may seem to drag on forever.

    Similar to: New York Minute

    Dude, that speech lasted a marijuana minute.

    I know, I kept wondering if it was going to ever end

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report

  • Bart Janssen,

    It’s not a mission to Mars

    No it isn't. A Mars mission is just solving engineering and biological problems and getting the money.

    A rational sensible data driven approach to mind altering drugs would require people to change their minds.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report

  • linger, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    So whether that makes it less a mission to Mars and more a hiding to nothing depends on the people making the decisions.
    *Looks at headlines* ... Yeah, I wouldn't be too optimistic either.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    A rational sensible data driven approach to mind altering drugs would require people to change their minds.

    And we do not live in a rational space. Example: Parliament’s Health committee reports back recommending the reclassification of the NBOMe class of drugs as Class B under the Misuse of Drugs Act. They are currently regulated under the Psychoactive Substances Act, which is a catch-all.

    In my view, the NBOMe drugs are not at all good. Their effects are poorly understood but they can include acute responses and even organ damage and death. It would be safer if they weren’t in the market at all.

    But, from the report:

    NBOMes are usually sold in the same dosage form as LSD, and each is often mistaken for the other. In New Zealand, NBOMe and LSD seizures are reported as a combined total. The New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Customs Service have reported increases in the seizures of NBOMe and LSD from 836 doses in 2010 to 26,965 doses in 2014.

    It’s less that they’re “mistaken” for each other than that the (cheaply-and-easily-manufactured) NBOMe chemicals are almost always sold as LSD, to the extent that they have displaced LSD from the market. They are demonstrably much more harmful than LSD – and yet LSD is still scheduled as a Class A drug. It would be a rational move to down-classify LSD at least to the level of NBOMe. But we are not in a rational space.

    Ross Bell argued for NBOMe to remain under PSA regulation – because, I’m guessing, the penalties for use and possession are more rational. To take one example, this is important for emergency medics, because people should be more willing to disclose what they (or their mates) have taken, which is really important in the case of these drugs.

    Indeed, this is basically acknowledged in the report:

    Reclassifying the specified NBOMes and their structural analogues under the Misuse of Drugs Act would result in an immediate increase in the penalties imposed for breaches of the controls. The ministry’s regulatory impact statement notes that the growing trend of NBOMe misuse indicates that the reclassification is likely to result in short-term increases in harm to individuals and society, and in costs to enforcement agencies, advice, and treatment services.

    However, it is expected that this will only be short term and that the classification would reduce the supply and demand of NBOMes, resulting in a reduction in harm for individuals and society. A reduction in cost to treatment services is expected as fewer individuals use these substances.

    So, they say, the reclassification will cause harm to users and the people who try to help them. But only for a while. . Hopefully. If ever there was a screaming case for decriminalising possession, this is it.

    But back to the way the police report this, by combining NBOMe and LSD seizures as if they were the same thing. This makes no sense at all. Ask a fucking emergency doctor if they’re the same thing. They aren’t.

    We are not operating in a rational space.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Ross Bell,

    I thought he was actually smarter than that.


    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Shulgin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    "We are not operating in a rational space."

    I thought it was about a mars shot, in a thin can...but anyway...some of that chyna steel can be rolled real thin...to make lite weight versions.

    Anyway, rational space....there is shit in the water, and we concern ourselves with a mars shot....a fight over scare resources would make me diagnose something ugly in ICD 10...

    anyway, fake acid, is a bit like, fake steel, and no test certificates! So that is why its a bloody real world health issue...and not a shot to mars in a thin can.

    I heard Helen Kelly made her way to Cuba on Checkpoint.

    NZ • Since May 2011 • 125 posts Report

  • Shulgin,

    major tom

    NZ • Since May 2011 • 125 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    Russell, I suggest you consider the issue from a minority-rights perspective too. Women, Maoris, homosexuals are all large minorities that achieved liberation from legal and cultural oppression in the 20th century. Folks choosing to use cannabis remain the only large minority still oppressed.

    It will probably help them to clarify why this is so. Unfortunately the field of political psychology remains undeveloped, but the relation of motives and tacit beliefs to cultural conventions & paradigms, ideology and group psychodynamics would benefit from extensive elucidation. Why have users not formed an effective political lobby as the other minorities did?

    It often seems to me that the coercive effect of prohibition is a key dimension of the situation. The right of free speech is not usable by a user when exercising it is liable to result in loss of career & liberty. When I entered my television career in '75 I was surprised to discover that the mainstreamers I worked with had embraced a lifestyle of getting high just like those of us who did the commune/crash-pad scene. The advertising, music & media industries were full of users by the end of that decade.

    Plenty of people who went on to become wealthy, successful professionals in all walks of life, some famous, are living exemplars of the capacity of folks to use cannabis for self-empowerment. Not a single one has ever been able to provide public testimony of this. The social sanction against telling the truth in Aotearoa is too powerful. Bullshit prevails.

    Now the public have formed a majority in favour of ending prohibition. Only the Nat/Lab dinosaurs remain to hold back the tide of progress. We need some force able to break through this left/right collusion: the Greens aren't strong enough to do it alone.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

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