Nats and Labour’s position ‘untenable’ as rivals come to pot party

"It’s great the smaller parties are talking about cannabis reform," says Drug Foundation chief Ross Bell

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Which party’s position on cannabis do you prefer?

The Opportunity Party’s
46%
The Greens’
27%
United Future’s
2%
Labour and National’s
25%
Total votes: 199

National and Labour are “irresponsible” in their continued refusal to tackle the issue of reforming the laws governing cannabis – and other currently illicit drugs – Drug Foundation head Ross Bell says.

Mr Bell’s broadside is prompted by Gareth Morgan’s launch of The Opportunities Party’s policy on pot, which takes a regulatory approach much like several states in the US that have recently legalised the drug.

“I think it’s right to start talking about that,” Mr Bell says, although he acknowledges that it’s difficult to give the policy a hard rating beyond that given “we’re in new territory here” and that “once you reject prohibition and then try regulations, the devil is in the detail.”

“There is only initial experience to learn from in terms of regulating cannabis in the way The Opportunities Party is talking about … it’s early days in the US to see how that’s going.

“But I think this party has put enough thought into whatever reform, whatever regulations you put in place, you do in baby steps. And I think that’s the right approach.”

Several other minor parties also get praise from Mr Bell for their positions on cannabis law.

“I think the Green Party has a sensible policy where they’re looking at a Portugal-style model of decriminalisation for all drugs and then, over time, a regulated approach,” he says. “I think that’s very thoughtful."

Then there’s the Maori Party, which — having long been “very conservative on this — is now saying, look, they won’t want to talk about legalisation but decriminalisation is on the table.”

And United Future’s Peter Dunne, “our drug policy minister, has put out a very thoughtful framework for the kind of staged approach he would like to see.”

“I think that’s a good sign because we’ve never been in this position before where politicians are willing to talk about drugs in a thoughtful way in an election year,” he says.

Major parties’ silence
However, these politicians’ positions are in stark contrast to the “absolute silence from the Nats and Labour, which I think is an untenable position for them to hold,” Mr Bell says.

“You’ve had National for a long time put up all these straw men about why the status quo is good enough and Labour telling us, ‘oh no, we’ve got more important things to think about — if we were government, we might do something around drug law reform in term two.’

“Well, I’ve become a very impatient person and I don’t accept any of those positions anymore,” Mr Bell says.

He acknowledges, nonetheless, that drug reform will not advance until “one of those big parties to play this game as well, to join the conversation.”

“The onus now goes on them to prove to us why they think the status quo is the right approach.”

Road to reform
Mr Bell believes New Zealand needs “a clear timeline from this election forward for how and when we should reform our drug law.”

He envisages this involving:

  • “starting a public consultation process, a public information campaign and a select committee process allowing public input into a law reform bill in 2018;”
  • “having that law run through parliamentary process in 2019;”
  • “and having that law in place by 2020, when the next election is.”

“That will allow all the noise to settle down ... by 2020 we'll have a new law, everyone’s happy and relaxed, the sky hasn’t fallen in and we can move onto other issues.”


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18 Comments & Questions

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Both National and Labour's positions are immoral and politically inept. When I had stage four cancer I didn't give a toss about the Government's irresponsible prohibition I took what could and did help save my life. Shame on both your houses. Decriminalise and take the money out of the hands of organised crime, take all those police hours and deploy them against dangerous drugs such as P.

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Too right. Both those parties are only worried about a loss of votes if they soften their stances. Good luck with your health problems.

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Big ups re the health battle Shane.

And yes, regarding our major parties, we have no representation on so many important issues. They run the risk of being left behind (I hope).

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I think at this point most younger Kiwis - even such as myself who has never tried pot - regard the government's position as ill-informed and mostly a case of misguided curmudgeonhood, left in the dark ages compared to the more informed reactions we're seeing oversees.

Cannabis should be legalised.

Instead we continue to see the likes of Peter Dunne saying "Show me the research then I'll consider it", despite having been provided with the research over and over by various advocates. You can lead a horse to water (slash horticulture) but you can't make him think.

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Add to cannabis legalisation (esp medicinal), the more pressing issue of euthanasia given people are dying in circumstances anathema to them in the meantime (dying!), and there is currently a compassionate 66-year-old women up on criminal charges (which is disgusting).

Although not a chance any of this can happen with the Catholic codgerati in power. Again, again, again: there is no reasonable vote for social liberal free market, small staters. None at all given a vote for classical liberal Seymour simply cements in the Catholic guy, and a vote for any other party is for the gulag of collectivism and the big state.

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"... by 2020 we'll have a new law, everyone’s happy and relaxed, ..."

I can think of other ways one can achieve that state long before 2020 ... puff, puff, ... cough, cough.

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I am a founder / entrepreneur of an eight figure company. I also smoke weed (with tobacco) for severe migraine headaches when my go to meds don't work. Smoking weed is win / win awesome. I am.waiting till decriminalization and will be all in on a new venture . Can't come soon enough (#nextbilliondollarindustry) - Branson is 100% correct. Also - you can't run a country on selling over leveraged houses to each other.

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As an ex cigarette smoker I must admit to smoking the odd joint a few times a year. I prefer the low strength stuff (male plant) as I don't really want to get stoned. I find it to be a more satisfying smoke, than the chemical infested cigarette. When you say you smoke weed with tobacco, do you mean you mix it with tobacco, or you smoke weed and cigarettes? I can't say I've ever known anyone that mixes the two together. I know there are people that do it. But I don't see the point. You either smoke one or the other, or both. Still each to their own.

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I mix it with some tobacco as it makes it more mild. Also the nicotine works as a very good vaso constrictor which is what you want for migraine headaches. The cannabinoids roll over the several sharp edges of the pain (behind eyes etc). Don't smoke cigarettes on own / only smoke for migraine (ie not recreationally as I like to be sharp on focused). It is extremely effective and allows me to operate when otherwise I would go down. Don't drink - don't do any drugs outside of 1 coffee a day...

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Oh well if that's what works for you , go for it. I would try to save some up if I was you, because the growing season was terrible this year. Too much rain, and not enough sun. The plants struggled to produce seeds. So that doesn't bod well for the upcoming planting season, and if there's a shortage of it the price will only go one way.

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Medical use is fine, but if it is legalised it won't have any effect on the gang situation. Take a look at the poster child "Amsterdam" they have some of the worst gang violence in the world. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't actually think it's actually legal there, the government have chosen a more blind eye attitude due to the tourist dollars.
You also have to look at how quickly the youth embraced synthetics, we don't want a generation of stoners.
Also I could imagine those in the know would get the licences and it would be like crayfish quota. A Select few making truck loads, yet we want it out of the gangs hands. Just a different sort of gang.

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No one's going to bother buying cannabis off a gang associate if they can buy it from a shop, no?

Gangs will still exist, but cannabis won't be an attractive illegal industry for them anymore.

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why not a few plants for personal use in the back yard?

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Look at California, WA and Colorado, no increase in crime and it helped to plug budget deficit. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/13/heres-how-legal-p... andhttps://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/dose-reality-effect-st...

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Govt pretends to be compassionate by providing a convoluted process to obtain access to Sativex and then makes people pay up to $1400 a month to use it legally, its prohibition by price, considering this is sick and disabled people, it's all a bit narcissistic from Dunne wouldn't you say?

They talk up wanting research and clinical trials and the like because they don't know enough but after they have done nothing to obtain that information, its easy to find using google, even a 5 year old could do it, but not these politicians, they want experts but then lo and behold one has just left called Dr Bearman who did speeches around NZ recently and this is what Dunne had to say.

'Dunne said Bearman's comments were inaccurate, ignorant, abusive and ill-informed.'

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/92674696/expert-calls-for-governm...

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I'm still not sure what the issue is, I mean two of the biggest killers alcohol and cigarettes are completely legal, yet no one has ever overdosed or got violent on cannabis, it even has healing properties in it yet this is still an issue? Personally, I think it's a no brainer. If anything make tobacco illegal, it kills thousands yet can still be bought at the corner store. Actually more people end up in hospital with serious health issues from smart drinks than cannabis. The funny thing is the ones who seem to struggle have usually been educated on cannabis by media and propaganda and maybe could do a little more personal research on cannabis. I used to be very anti legalizing it, but I decided to use my brain one day and do some very surprising research.

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Who the he'll wants to see kiwis caught with a few grams of a mildly mind altering substance, that may be harming themselves (more than tobacco, alcohol or eating too much shit food?) but very rarely anyone else given a criminal conviction? Don't need to do anything which may impact its rate of use or availability, just stop making criminals out of people who choose to use marijuana for whatever reason! It's total nonsense and surely we love and care about others enough to stop this happening?!!

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The laws that uphold cannabis prohibition were based on corporate greed and political corruption.
Anyone who upholds these laws are complicit in this war against the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our communities.
These laws are unjust and immoral!
The Police Commissioner Mike Bush must place an immediate Moratorium on the medicinal community as directed by 2 Government appointed Commissions, Law and Health!
Then the politicians and the pharmaceutical companies et al can get their ducks in a row regarding laws and regulations if any more are required at all!

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