Pubdate: Tue, 23 Aug 2016
Source: Press, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2016 Fairfax New Zealand Limited
Author: Mike Yardley


If a referendum was held on legalising cannabis for personal use, 
would you support it? You'd have to be off your scone. The New 
Zealand Drug Foundation (NZDF) has been crowing about the results of 
its self-selecting poll, indicating broad public support for 
decriminalising cannabis for personal use. Rebecca Reider made 
history over the weekend by bringing the first legal raw cannabis 
flower into New Zealand, campaigners say.

The NZDF has steadily become a strident proponent for law reform, to 
the point that they now sound more like glorified pushers, 
campaigning for "the removal of criminal penalties for drug use, 
possession and social supply."

Prime John Key deserves credit for doubling down and refusing to budge.

As does the Labour Party, despite momentarily flirting with the 
notion of a referendum recently.

Unsurprisingly, the Green Party, which has long been over-populated 
by potheads, is itching for grow-your-own personal supply to be legalised.

According to the United Nations, New Zealand has one of the highest 
rates of cannabis users in the world, with 9-14 per cent of Kiwis 
routinely getting wasted, four times the global average.

The NZDF argues it's a complete waste of "hundreds of thousands of 
police hours" trying to enforce the law, criminalising and 
imprisoning Kiwis for low-level possession.

Just because tens of thousands of Kiwis choose to smoke dope in 
defiance of the law, is not a compelling reason to legitimatise their 

Forty-two per cent of front line police officer hours are consumed on 
dealing to family violence.

If you apply the extreme, absurd and self-serving logic of the 
legalise lobby, the police should surrender to family violence too, 
because so many Kiwis are indulging in this sick and twisted national sport.

Ditto for child abuse, tax evasion, drink-driving, shop-lifting, or 
any other social scourge you care to name.

Two per cent of Kiwis have graduated from the gateway drug of 
cannabis to become meth-heads. Should we adopt a similarly defeatist 
attitude to methamphetamine's legal status too?

Clearly, more focus is rightly being placed on not just treating 
illicit drug use as a criminal issue, but a health issue.

According to Treasury, only 6 per cent of cannabis users are collared 
by the police. The overwhelming majority of those who are sprung for 
possession, aren't imprisoned.

The police have increasingly adopted are far pragmatic approach, 
deploying pre-charge warnings and diversion instead. But recidivist 
and unrepentant users are convicted. The police don't actively target 
low-level cannabis users.

Being charged for possession generally only comes about as a 
consequence of being arrested for higherlevel offending, like burglary.

The other great myth peddled by the legalisation lobby is that 
cannabis use is a victimless crime.

As the National Committee for Addiction Treatment points out, 55 per 
cent of our prison inmates are cannabis dependent. It fuels crime.

And we're all paying the price for cannabis dependence through its 
devastating impact on mental health.

Is it really just a coincidence that Northland, our cannabis capital, 
also has one of the world's highest rates of schizophrenia?

The insidious prevalence of cannabisinduced schizophrenia, psychosis, 
depression and anxiety is undeniable. As is slothfulness.

Never before, have we had more taxpayer-funded treatment service 
providers. But only the individual can summon the will to start 
transforming their life. They need to be vigorously encouraged to 
take those steps.

Globally, it's been a long-established ploy by the likes of NORML 
(the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) to 
cynically hitch medical marijuana to the same wagon as recreational 
drug use, to soften up the public to complete capitulation.

Liberalising the law to help terminal patients in pain access 
products like Sativex is one thing. But rolling over on recreational 
drug use is not in the public interest.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom