frontlines issues

a couple of recent items from the frontlines of the war;

1) with the election campaign in full swing, a current affairs show had, a piece on ‘in light of deaths from synthetics, should natural herb, be decrim’d or legal ?’ they had a panel of experts who said:
a) a centrist MP said a referendum was the better option
b) a Labour candidate said that a report from the NZ Law comm. in 2011.. needs a fresh look (the current Govt. just took a couple of minor issue & swept all the serious reform stuff, under the carpet)
c) an indigenous youth campaigner, said he was hesitant at any moves to legalise the herb as it could see large increase in use & a gateway to hard drugs (a little ‘reefer madness-esq’ (IMHO)
But they dis also mentioned some recent stats.:
d) about 65% of adults, surveyed do support some level of reform; decrim. or legal
e) over 40% of prison inmates are in jail for ‘drug related offences’ & about half are maori (indigenous NZ)
f) NZ still rates in top 1-2 in use stats. per capita for cannabis use
g) we are really lagging behind other OECD countries on reform

2) the Philippines President is still gung-ho about their WAR on DRUGS. He said recently (paraphrased) ‘Everyday should be like this’ (a large number shot for drug offences; mostly use amongst the POOR)
I call on all those who disagree with him, to say so OR take the bastard down ! (those who live by the sword/gun often die by it)

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Radio interview

I heard an interview with the Green MP, whose medicinal bill was pulled from the parliamentary ballot recently. The interviewer being the curator of the NZ Cannabis museum. Here is a flavour of the transcript:

Int: ok.. We’re here with (Green MP), spokesperson for drug issues for the Green party & she is one of the most prominent public advocates for cannabis law reform in the NZ public sphere at the moment.
How does that feel (MP), to find yourself, you know, as a cannabis champion in the media ?

MP: To be honest its been really wonderful to have this opportunity. I think that it’s a great privilege to be a member of parliament, to be a representative. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is being able to stand up for what I believe in & make clear, coherent, persuasive arguments in favour of change, that’s gonna benefit us all. When I first got into parliament I was mainly a spokesperson on transport issues. But to be honest, going back to when I was a teenager in the mid nineties, the issue of drug law reform was one that I was very passionate about & certainly argued with many people about.. So coming to NZ, now 12 years ago, I was very surprised that NZ hadn’t advanced further, in terms of a rational approach to regulating drug use to minimise harm

Int; many people are surprised that we’ve been progressive on other issues, but not this..

MP; & the greens of course for many years, felt that their ability to campaign on other issues like climate change & inequality had been constrained by the perception, that all they cared about was smoking marijuana. BUT of course that was never true, it was all just part of a package of ‘how do we develop a sustainable & just economy & we can’t do that if we have unjust Drug laws

So I got the health portfolio when (ex MP) stepped down to go lead Forest & Bird last year.. & at the same time the party had been going through a process of updating ‘our Drug policy’ & so I got to be the spokesperson for it.. & its been wonderful & I really, really enjoy it, because I think it something where it’s just so clear, all the evidence backs a different approach & um, I’ve been so fortunate to have my medicinal cannabis bill pulled, drawn from the ballot which means it will get a first reading in parliament. Of course Id rather go further & have full drug law reform, that’s Green party policy. But I could see that within this parliament, there was potentially the scope for a members bill on medicinal use of cannabis to pass & that would make a huge difference to many people out in NZ who are using cannabis currently for medicinal purposes & who are operating outside the law. Vulnerable people who might be subject to being raided by the police, having their plants confiscated, getting a criminal conviction. & I just think this is such an opportunity to help those people.

then followed by;

Int; Well & ya know, if some of these people even knew what modern medical cannabis products looked like, even home-made, ah, I think they’d be a lot more open-minded & they themselves would probably benefit from them, I know (current PM) has back pain, (an advocate) tried to suggest to him that he might use some medicinal cannabis, but of course he doesn’t want to listen to it, but are you ready for the um, Nandor-esq mean images of you puffing on (MP laughs, can’t hear some of comment)

MP; Well I think interestingly, I’m probably a good person to be the spokesperson for this because, um I have a slightly different image, right.. & in a way that challenges people’s assumptions & it makes it easier for me to appeal to people who are of a more conservative.. world view, because I’m obviously someone who prioritises my own health, like if I’m out there cycling around.. drinking smoothies & things. I am a serious hiker, but a different type of serious hike.. I have learned so much about the health benefits of cannabis, like a view it shouldn’t be illegal, that was the wrong way to treat..

closed with;

Int; now if you haven’t smoked cannabis in NZ, it strikes me that you might not know what ‘spots’ are.. Do you ?

MP; no I don’t know

Int; you’ve never done spots or seen spots ?

MP; no never done spots

Int; So spots is when you take 2 butter knives & you put them on the electric element to heat them up until they’re red hot, then you take a tiny little piece of cannabis bud, & you squish it between the hot knives & then it smokes up & the person whose receiving the spot sort of stands over it with a coke bottle with the bottom cut off, so that all of that smoke is captured, what ever you can find to capture the smoke & then inhale it in, essentially the idea behind that is, if you only have a little bit, because unfortunately for NZ & as we’ve seen with the synthetic cannabis deaths, Cannabis is hard to come by it’s really scarce.. This a way of having a little bit for each person, this is er, a piece of kiwiana, there no other round the world..

MP; so have they always do this in NZ or is it a recent development ?

Int; er, no for at least 30-40 years (MP; Wow) & nowhere else really does it

MP; No 8 wire, that’s so No. 8 wire

Int; Yer exactly very kiwi & the iconography of knives on the stove, which if you search in your mind, you may have actually seen before, you’ll notice it now, that you know about it, is very prominent & so we always seek to educate here..

MP; it’s really important for representatives, to know about these things.. it’s very interesting

The whole interview is likely available on-line ?

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survey

I just put together some questions that anyone reading can answer, if you like:

1) would you agree;
If you get up in the morning & one of the first things you do is smoke herb & you continue all day.. is this drug abuse ? Y/N

2) Do you have days/weeks when you don’t consume the herb ? Y/N

3) Would you support;
a) Decriminalisation; on-the-spot fines & monitoring of use/abuse
b) Legalisation; home grow, R18, no arrests for personal use, very little control
c) Regulation; (strict control, but not prohibition) R18+, clubs/cafes but not use in public, only use at ‘authorise events’ outdoors, sales by licensed dealers, perhaps a limited homegrow.. 2-3 plants

4) Do you agree/support;
‘The WAR on Drugs’ is the only rational/effective way to control illegal drugs’ ? Status quo Y/N

5) would you support a policy of Vaping & edibles only, discourage Smoking ? Y/N

6) do you think only medicinal/therapeutic use (vaping, edibles, tablets, oils etc.) should be legal; BUT no recreational use ? Y/N

7) Do you agree; As a general painkiller (letter from GP only required) cannabis should be R40+. It should only be available on prescription to those under 40 for specific illness/condition; eg Children with epilepsy etc. Y/N

8) Do you believe that countries like Aotearoa/NZ that still have effective zero-tolerance (no growing, except hemp) are perhaps covering up Ulterior motives; massive support for Prohibition industry (Police state) & broad range of CORRUPTION ?? Y/N

9) If you were to put your own age limit on recreational use;
a) R18+
b) R20+
c) R21+
d) R25+
e) other, spec.

10) Do you have other concerns or issues (inc. price/availability) that you wish to add ? Y/N spec.

Its time that the questions were not just asked, BUT also answered & more discussion encouraged, too often it just get swept under the carpet OR dumped in the ‘too hard basket’

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Main item

I have been reading the report that came from a petition about medicinal cannabis in NZ parliament, this is the ‘guts of the sticking point’ (IMHO).. the total block on allowing the natural plant (with THC >5%) to be grown in this country !

Industrial hemp has been grown… but, smoking it will do nothing more than give you a BAD headache.

Here is the text, that I would challenge, with a single word:

Comments from the Ministry of Health
‘The ministry said that the term “cannabis in New Zealand for medical use” used by the
petitioner appears to cover a range of substances. These range from unprocessed or
partially processed cannabis plant material to products containing extracts of the cannabis
plant that meet the internationally accepted standards for medicines. The ministry has
limited its comments to products containing extracts of the cannabis plant. It uses the term
“cannabis-based products” because very few of the substances available meet the quality
and safety requirements normally associated with the term “medicine”.

The ministry told us that the Government does not support the use of leaf or unprocessed
cannabis for medical purposes. This is because there is no way to control the dose or
potency of unprocessed cannabis, and there is risk that it might contain contaminants. We
asked whether there was any evidence of excessive harm from people using leaf products.
The ministry said that if a product is to be treated as a medicine, people have to know what
is in it. There is the risk of respiratory harm or fungal infections if the products are not
properly maintained.’

There is only one word I need to add; Bedrocan ! A commercially grown natural herb, grown in EU in ‘clean room’ green houses, from clones of a known strain, ie within known limits of the active ingredients. These two items tick the boxes, that this report says are effectively untickable !

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Petition report released

I saw that the NZ parliamentary Health select committee have release the full & final report into the petition that over 17k kiwis signed; who are calling for reform of the cannabis laws.

It has about 11 pages of legalese to read through, but at first glance looks like ‘more of the same’ with maybe a minor tweak ?

I was happy to see the minority view of the Labour & Green parties:

‘The Green Party and the Labour Party support the petitioner’s request for a law change to
allow safe, quality, affordable cannabis in New Zealand for medicinal use. We acknowledge
that there is a large number of sick New Zealanders who are already using cannabis
medicinally, and we feel there is no evidence to justify the current legal approach which
disallows the cultivation and most use of cannabis and cannabis-based products for
medicinal purposes. We disagree with the majority of the committee that “access to
cannabis-based products is constrained by factors that are difficult for the Government or
ministry to control.” The Government has the ability to change and update our drug laws
in New Zealand to significantly improve access, and the Green Party and Labour Party
support such a compassionate law change.’

& even the NZF view was better than the current Govt.

‘New Zealand First congratulates the petitioner for bringing this issue before the Select
Committee. This petition signifies a significant policy shift. New Zealand First cannot
support such a fundamental change without a clear sign that this is the will of most New
Zealanders. This would be achieved by either a binding Citizens’ Initiated Referendum or a
Government Initiated Referendum held with a future General Election, thus allowing for a
period of informed debate. The responsibility should not sit with temporarily empowered
politicians.’

I intend to reread the full report & write an ‘open letter to the Minister/Govt.’ to express further outrage.. watch this space
Fingers crossed in about 5-6 weeks this current crew in Wellington are booted out & replaced by more rational folks ? :/

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Rhinestone Cowboy RIP

I just heard that country/western singer; Glen Campbell has passed away from Alzheimers at age 81. I will mostly remember him for his songs ‘Rhinestone cowboy’ & ‘Galveston’. I don’t know what he thought of the ‘drug issue’, he always looked like the ‘All American, clean cut boy’ BUT I doubt that he was totally unaware of these things ?

RIP Glen, we will remember you… Ride that range in the sky

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CBD reform

I just saw a brief news flash.. the Assoc. Minister of Health (resp. Drug Policy) in Aotearoa/NZ; is about to pass an amendment to the law, to allow GP Doctors to prescribe CBD drugs, without any higher level of approval !

Up until now ALL cannabis drugs/extracts have required a three level approval; GP doctor to recommend, a specialist to give the nod & then finally, the minister or his departmental officials to give the final rubber stamp. This was brought to light a couple of years ago, when a young man with severe epilepsy was approved a CBD drug (that is available in USA states, without a prescription) Elixinol. BUT it was too little to late & he passed away.

I am not placing the blame specifically, at the Minister’s door, BUT he does seem to have been just, looking for any/all excuses to prevent a broader use of cannabis & extracts in NZ. The media still often refer to these drugs/compounds as ‘Medical Marijuana’ even though they are NOT the raw herb OR used for recreational use (Marijuana).. again deliberate misinformation abounds 😦

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