Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cannabis: Who owns Say Nope to Dope anyway?

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  • Ian Dalziel,

    That Davies road address seems to be the MIT building and station (not that it’s numbered) – though it does seem to have other tenants – there is at least one law firm in the building – and both organisations (Say Nope to dope and FamFirst) have the same phone number…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Boden,

    I'd say the obfuscation around their spending is evidence that should be considered in the ChCh High Court case to set aside the referendum result.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew E,

    Thanks for the detective work, just wanted to add that his name is spelt "McCoskrie"

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2021 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Marta Rychert,

    Hi Russell,
    Thank you for your interest in our piece. The commentary, published yesterday in Drug & Alcohol Review, discussed some of the social, political and campaign factors that may explain the outcome, with international academic audience in mind. We have endeavoured to present the evidence in a balanced way and that has meant we have been criticised by interest groups from both sides of the debate. It’s our job to present the evidence and analysis, not advocate for one side or the other. We asserted that Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s decision not to reveal her voting preference before the vote may have been decisive based on her effectiveness as a political communicator and broad popularity with middle New Zealand conservative voters. We believe Jacinda Arden’s communication skills and popularity are self-evident and so we didn’t provide any reference to back that up (although there are numerous political opinion poll results you could refer to). Incidentally, we are not criticizing Jacinda Ardern for her position, she clearly explained the rational that she wanted people to decide for themselves, which is reasonable for such a values based issue. Nevertheless, it is a factor that in our view is relevant in explaining NZ referendum debate.
    With regards to campaign spending, thanks for noting we did not have access to reports submitted to the Electoral Commission by “third party promoters” (those were published after the article was accepted for publication). We agree the reports provide interesting insights. You rightly note, only 3 campaigners filed the reports (only those that spent $100,000+ in the “regulated period” are required to do this) and 2 of those were on the NO side (SAM and Family First – who are behind the “Nope to Dope”; note we refer to “Nope to Dope” as anti-reform group not a “registered campaigner”) - their declared combined spending was $462,000. The only registered campaigner who crossed the $100,000 reporting limit on the “YES” side was NZ Drug Foundation ($337,000). From Facebook data, we also know that “Make It Legal” (also YES side) was very close to the $100,000 in that pre-referendum “regulated period”, Facebook estimate for the 8-weeks pre-referendum suggests roughly $96,000 spending on social media advertising (and for the 3 months pre-referendum Facebook estimate sits at $129,000 spent – but this data extends beyond the “regulated period”). Next to NZDF, we consider “Make It Legal” one of the leading pro-reform campaigners (possible with second highest spending among registered campaigners on the YES side, and definitely the highest spending on Facebook advertising). Absolutely agree strategies differed among campaigners, and we explicitly referred to leading role of Make It Legal on social media. While we will never know the exact spending on each side (because those <$100,000 don’t file the reports), the above – from what is available in the public domain - suggests it wasn’t far off in the immediate pre-referendum period. Unfortunately, as you note - there is even less information about campaign spending before that, therefore our commentary focused on the immediate pre-referendum period for which some data is available.
    Marta & Chris

    Since Mar 2021 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Buchanan,

    The underhand funding is an issue - but the real problem was that some in the Yes campaign pushed prohibitionist propaganda with slogans such as “Regulate cannabis to reduce the harms it can cause“, “Let’s get cannabis under control by regulating it”, and ‘protect our young people’.

    The other major issue was that instead of 10yrs of preparation following the groundwork already done by the Law Commission who recommended rescinding the Misuse of Drugs Act, the past decade saw a U turn as we became swamped by USA visitors and US styled prohibitionist drug policies (Drug Courts, Drug testing drivers, Drug testing wastewater, Meth House Testing, Brain Disease Models of Addiction, Drug testing beneficiaries, Compulsory Treatment Act and using the PSA to ban everything). That left us woefully unprepared.

    The groundwork for legalising cannabis or indeed ending prohibition - takes many years of education and awareness raising.

    We shot ourselves in the foot by courting the USA propagandist and President of SAM Kevin Sabet & inviting him to address the last NZ Cannabis Conference

    It gave Kevin Sabet credibility, an audience and a foothold - and lo and behold Sabet then establishes a New Zealand SAM branch and the rest is history.

    The creation of a SAM (NZ) became a huge problem - but we should never have invited him over to present on preventing and treating cannabis use - sheesh!!

    Here's the paper trail of evidence:


    Wellington • Since Jul 2020 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Marta Rychert,

    Thanks for the response, Marta. Much appreciated.

    (SAM and Family First – who are behind the “Nope to Dope”; note we refer to “Nope to Dope” as anti-reform group not a “registered campaigner”)

    True, but I'm not even sure Say Nope to Dope is a group as such, so much as a brand passed around between the two closely-related promoters.

    That Make It legal figure of $96,000 is interesting – I knew they were in the tens of thousands, but not that close to having to file a return.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Brad SHB,

    Chris, were you not the same academic that proposed a government controlled not for profit medical cannabis regime that completely ignored the few hundred thousand people, mostly in the regions that rely on income from the existing cannabis industry to put food on their families tables.
    Another local expert so out of touch with what's happening at ground level in this industry. Unfortunately, these woke academics are the same advisors who have Medsafes ear and partly responsible for why our industry is so far behind the rest of the world, regardless of how us kiwis love to pat ourselves on the backs and bask in our number 8 fence wire innovation mentality.

    Since Oct 2019 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan,

    Nice research RB, deserves sharing widely. Wonder if the Liquor Industry or Religious organisations contributed to the NO campaign, they have previously contributed resources, funds and engaged in behind the scenes lobbying.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 124 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Marta Rychert,

    Incidentally, we are not criticizing Jacinda Ardern for her position, she clearly explained the rational that she wanted people to decide for themselves, which is reasonable for such a values based issue.

    I think it was cowardly and it led to a bad outcome so I'm quite happy to criticize her for it.

    Of course it wasn't the only factor, The world was gripped by total loss of all perspective on the relative balance of potential harm and the right to a great many freedoms, and it still is. Under the circumstances it was amazing legalization even came close when we had just spent many months making it illegal to go to work, school, to friends, to shops, sports, overseas, to weddings and funerals, even leaving your suburb was curtailed.

    I can't even imagine a sensible debate about harm minimization when we cant even bring up just how far and how extremely wrong the approach can go, as just witnessed. We've got a whole lot more suffering to do first.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin O'Connell,

    This would be included in the high court inquiry, amd may still be, but the inquiry is stalled while judges Thomas Dunningham and Mander deliberate on a preliminary decision (inadvertent failure to procure ‘security for costs’ in time’, which deserved to be an expeditious decision. We have been waiting 28 days now on the reserved decision (status request being made today)

    I fear politics or some other conflict of inteest has caused tbe judges to put due process in the too hard basket? Hope im proved wrong..

    Thanks Joe Boden for acknowledging the inquiry and its potential to void result . it is not in the Parliamentary or media discourse.

    (Kevin O’Connell, spokesperson for the applicant group of 346 petitioners)

    christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Worik, in reply to Marta Rychert,

    MakeItLegal have filed a return.

    Sent it to the wrong address (sigh!) so it is late going up

    Not up yet but will be shortly, it is for $104,000(ish)

    Waitati • Since Jan 2017 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin O'Connell,

    FYI from the Chch High court this morning re petition for inquiry into referendum.conduct (stalled three months so far):

    CIV-2020-409-000604 - O'Connell & Ors v Electoral Commission

    Dear Counsel and Mr O’Connell,

    A judgment for the above named matter [whether to re-open Inquiry into the 2020 cannabis legalisation and control referendum] is likely to be issued in the next 5 – 10 working days.

    Kind regards,

    [Court manager]

    christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Worik,

    MakeItLegal have filed a return.

    Sent it to the wrong address (sigh!) so it is late going up

    Not up yet but will be shortly, it is for $104,000(ish)

    Ah. And oops!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong,

    I am more concerned with my own supply. My vegetable garden is going great guns but the usual supply is, apologies to all involved, well under par.

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Both sides of the online debate where peddling disingenuous messaging. The campaign to legalising came across as arrogant by loud people with a strong sense of self importance. The reason the failed was that proposal not enough people trusted the proposal to regulate and control the problem by selling it in shops.

    Personally, I was a bit offended seeing middle class people who obviously just wanted to groove into there local weed store before the morning Latte and eggs benadick at there over priced coffee - pretending to care about inequality. And then launching into another self important rant about bus drivers not giving enough room for cyclists who commute to the hundred dollar an hour town planning jobs.

    You fucked it up by being arrogant. You should have campaigned to decriminalise cannabis ( and the drugs ). and make you could have listened more than just focusing on proving your position is right and the binary other one one wrong.

    Drug harm isn't necessarily reduced by awesome cool people who are popular and go to lots of rave parties. I wish it was.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong,

    No longer concerned with my own supply. We sow the seed, nature grows the seed and then we smoke the weed.

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Imagine getting so single issue about legalising cannabis – that you’re messaging ignores that legalised and regulated alcohol causes huge amounts of measurable harm. And that alcohol has gradually been liberalised and liberalised till its narrative is controlled by the alcohol industry. Which makes it difficult for alcohol addicts to recognise the problem.

    Imagine why It’s offensive to some people to see this argument that the referendum failed because not enough campaign funds.

    Just imagine you don’t really know everything about drugs, addiction and recovery.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong, in reply to steven crawford,

    Now hold on steven. we wouldn't be nuclear free (or pro tour) without the glorious Steinlager brand,

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    The 80's alcohol marketing LOL.

    It's all sophisticated and European now. It's much easier to drink safely because it's widely available, and nicely presented. Even Russell Brown only has good things to say about the alcohol industry and he's an expert on anything about drugs harm reduction. Especially the craft beer and boutique distilling outfits. I can see the attraction. The content is essentially the same, but the graphic design work on the labelling and those big copper tanks at the cosy industrial establishments just make me want to get on board a do some urinating.

    Effects of alcohol on your health

    Alcohol can affect a number of body systems, including:

    heart – raised blood pressure and triglycerides (especially after binge drinking), damage to the heart muscle and stroke
    brain – brain damage, tremors, dementia and nerve damage. Alcohol is a depressant drug and affects your coordination, self-control, judgement and reaction times
    stomach – stomach inflammation (gastritis) and bleeding
    liver – cancer, hepatitis (inflammation), fatty changes, cirrhosis and liver failure
    hormones and fertitlity – problems controlling blood sugar, loss of sex drive and reduced fertility
    nutrition – malnutrition (alcohol displaces nutrients from your body) and obesity
    breast cancer and other gynaecological problems – women who drink alcohol are at a higher risk than non-drinking women.

    Thats what the New Zealand ministry of health says about alcohol. I'm inclined to take them seriously.

    So, there was an element of doubt about the sincerity of the legalise campaign. I would have thought a genuine desire to minimise drug harm in the community would have been to address harms that marketing alcohol does to the community rather than going online and telling everyone how cool your local piss shop mates are.

    The main demographic in Auckland that rejected having cannabis outlets where Lower paid working class (the essential workers). Yet these are the people along with quote" Maori people" those comfortable home owning groovy people with Twitter accounts claimed to advocate for. One of the big arguments was that the law is racist. I'd say equity of housing, wages and education are more of a priority than creating a perception of coolness around being a stoned baby boomers who rides a bike, drinks lots of piss and does the odd line of coke.

    It would have been nice, after spending over 25 years in recovery from serious life threatening alcoholism and addiction, to be heard. Instead of being dismissed as not very good at writing. Surviving alcoholic/addiction with PTSD, isn't the same as reading shit loads of data on the internet. It's got the nuance of individual people at the hart of it.

    Thats the country we now live in. Its multi ethnic and religious and secular. We don't live in a spread sheet of data.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I drew two lines across my referendum paper. Thats because I didn’t want to vote ether way. If the referenda had asked if I wanted decriminalisation I most definitely would have voted for that. Its a pity that wasn’t an option.

    It’s also unfortunate that people from the pro legalise lobby started saying things like “If you don’t vote to legalise, we can’t be your friends any more”.

    Thing about drug dependency is that it can become part of peoples identity’s. Just stoping using an addictive substance is difficult when all your friends are encouraging you to continue. Or if your friends distance them selfs because you are no longer acting your usual cool stoner self. This is a barrier to reducing drug harm in younger people in particular.

    Some of the pro legalise regulate don’t understand that. If they did they should have said so. And obviously questioned the harm some of the alcohol marketing can cause. Thus, I couldn’t take these peoples assurances about regulated market controlles seriously.

    Weard how Helen Clark is always frowning. Just an observation…

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong,

    I still have nightmares watching john campbell report on my reality during peak synthetics and then, bang. radio silence. Empty horrible cold world of personal family emotional harm Dunn and dusted and sons.

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Simon Armstrong,

    Yep, those synthetics shops where appalling.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    "We were in a motel and it was a bad situation with drugs and alcohol and people fighting and smashing things all the time and I just wasn't going to have my kid around that."

    While I was in Gujarat (before the pandemic] I was wondering around at night among people who live in the gutter. Hundreds and hundreds of people, and goats and cows and wild dogs. I was scared of the dogs but not the people.

    Alcohol is prohibited in Gujarat. It doesn't not work.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Drug harm is liked with economic inequality. You can get away with having a nice craft beer and smoking a split on the deck with the vinyl on the turn table. I’m not begrudging that. I’d just ask you to please think very carefully about the way you project your utopian dream.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

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