I listened to local NZ talk-back last evening.. one caller rang up to discuss the news that convicted Australian ‘drug smuggler’, Schapelle Corby is eligible for parole in Bali & could be out of Kerobokan Jail next week. This led to many calls from people who just wanted to discuss current drug law situation in NZ, in-light of recent changes/moves overseas.
Some NEGATIVE comments & responses (paraphrased):
1) “Ms. Corby knew the consequences of her actions & deserves the 20 year sentence (could have been the death penalty) for importing about 4kgs of Cannabis” (a heinous crime ?) talking as if she was definitely guilty.. even though I hear she still claims her innocence. A few callers said that they still were NOT convinced of her guilt (including I & I). There was talk at the time, of airport staff using passengers bags to move drugs within Aust. & these drugs were not retrieved from her ‘boogie-board’ bag prior to being loaded onto the flight to Bali Indonesia
2) “That NZ should NOT move to any law reform.. we have enough trouble with Alcohol & Tobacco”. Several callers (including I & I) disagreed & said they should get rid of ‘legal highs’ & allow regulated Natural Cannabis (less harmful).. what happened to ‘Freedom of Choice’
3) in regard to Medicinal use; “ALL other options should be considered first, before allowing cannabis to be used”. Again several callers disagreed. A few said they used cannabis, for pain relief, because the drugs they were prescribed had unpleasant side-effects (cannabis did not)
4) “Holland is moving toward tightening up their cannabis laws”. (implying moving back to prohibition) This was challenged by a few (including I & I) in that whilst there are moves to restrict access to ‘foreign tourists’ there are no moves toward reinstating Prohibition. The example set by the dutch is now being considered by other countries in Europe, South America & even USA.
5) “It is unlikely that NZ will ever allow cannabis to be legal” Again strongly challenged.. I said that many say “If it’s not broken, why fix it ?” Well I think it IS broken & even the U.N. & NZ law commission are making similar noises !
6) Prof. David Nutt’s (sacked UK Drug advisor) chart of ‘Drug related harm’ was mentioned & the talk-back host ran through it.. stating the Prof. Nutt said : Alcohol is No. 1, Heroin No. 2, Tobacco No. 6 & Cannabis No. 8
It was inferred that as Prof, Nutt was sacked by ex-UK P.M. Gordon Brown (because he did not like the result) the chart should be discredited. I for one would rather listen to Prof. Nutt than a politician who is only worried about winning the next election (regardless of the outcomes to society)
7) “Legalisation/Decrim. will lead to increased use, especially Kids”
Again challenged.. in countries where law reform has occurred, after the initial phase (where many people may indulge) use rates appear to decrease. It is no longer ‘the forbidden fruit’ & many people tend to lose interest. The ‘hard-core’ tend to use it whether legal or not.. only the law changes, NOT the overall rates of use. If the concern is ‘Kids using drugs’ then an age-limit should be enforced as part of law reform.. instead of prohibition & zero-tolerance for ALL
8) “There are moves toward banning tobacco.. BUT some people want cannabis to be legal. They BOTH cause cancer” This is fascinating in that thousands die annually as a direct result of tobacco (no-one in the medical profession seriously would dispute this fact). There is still no conclusive evidence of any deaths attributed to just cannabis smoking. Some people smoke both & it is likely the tobacco that is the contributing factor. The other issue being chronic tobacco smokers, smoke 2-3 packs a day or more (40-60+).. even the most chronic cannabis smokers would probably not smoke more than 10 joints ! Hardly an equal comparison of both substances, equally causing cancer.. there are even some recent reports that some chemicals in natural cannabis appear to inhibit the growth of some tumors/cancer cells.
Whilst I was not happy to hear some of the stereo-typical ‘reefer madness’-like discussion (eg Gateway to hard drugs, causes mental illness, legalisation will increase use, especially amongst children… ALL NONSENCE to my mind) I was glad that at least it was being discussed/debated.. often just ignored or swept under the carpet here in Aotearoa/NZ (with amongst highest use rates)
After a few hours, the talk-back host (who appeared staunchly opposed to law reform) finally said “That maybe ‘decrim.’ was an option to consider !”
YAHOO.. in a country that has HIGH Cannabis use rates, the best option is to take the power out of the hands of ‘gangsters’ & ‘black-marketeers’ (in my humble opinion)
To sum up.. it costs the NZ tax-payer about $90k per annum to incarcerate ‘Drug Offenders’.. why not regulate cannabis & tax it. Return this to the Govt. to use on : Education, Rehab. & harm minimization strategies ?! The WAR on DRUGS is a FAILURE… It IS Broken & it DOES need to be FIXED ASAP !!!