I listened to talk-back radio last night.. the host read out a few recent issues & then said ‘as the election is getting nearer, politics is also OK’ (paraphrase) SO.. I rang up..
I said I wanted to talk about recent issues around cannabis law reform. I said I had downloaded the latest policy from one party & proceeded to talk through my perceptions :
1) Med-use to be immediately regulated
2) Personal use to be regulated (R18), taken out of the hands of the gangs/black-market & sold under license & taxed.
3) that currently this NZ Govt. spends $100mil on policing ‘drug laws’, would be better spent on : Education, Healthcare etc.
I then said the most important statement in the policy (as I see it) ‘Drugs should be treated as a health issue, NOT a criminal one !’
The host said he agreed with some points I had made.. BUT then asked what I thought about current laws against ‘hard drugs’ (Meth (‘P’) & Heroin).. I responded that whilst I do not promote drug use, I think ALL drugs needs to be ‘on a level playing field’ ie a HEALTH issue. He asked what I thought about ‘drug dealers’ I reaffirmed that black-market dealers should be dealt with by current law, BUT that there should be a regime of licensed drug manufacture & supply (as is happening overseas.. cannabis in Colorado etc.). He responded with ‘even for HARD drugs.. we all know they are extremely harmful’ I asked if he had ever tried any.. he responded ‘NO, but there is sufficient evidence to prove the harm’ (he made some reference to ‘not having to kill someone, to know murder is wrong’.. oh really, so ‘hard drug’ use & murder are comparable now ?) I challenged him & said it was often misinformation, similar to 1950s ‘reefer madness’ (meaning; don’t believe everything you see & hear.. not all drug use, become abuse or addiction). I also made mention of the recent ‘psychoactive substance act’ (now repealed, under review) & that this Govt. had allowed sale of ‘Synthetic Cannabis’ & other ‘legal highs’ that were unknown.. BUT excluded ‘natural cannabis’ which was less harmful, I think he agreed with this..
I closed with “I would be interested to hear what other callers think”..
He then announced to all those listening.. that I had effectively said I supported ‘decrim. of all drugs’ : WRONG.. but I don’t think any drug users should be routinely arrested & convicted/jailed.
Just shows that a persons own agenda, can skew the discussion.. regardless of actual points raised.
The next caller (a regular) said she thought I was ‘weird & could be on a trip to Mars’ & mentioned the full moon.. but she admitted that she had used cannabis & did not think it was worse than alcohol.
several more callers picked up on my points : (paraphrased.. )
1) one saying; all the drug users currently in jail should be let out & cannabis should be regulated & taxed.. she mentioned that Portugal had recently changed their law to decrim. all drugs
2) another caller talked about HEMP & the conspiracy to use ‘marijuana’ to get rid of it.. she also mentioned that alcohol often made people aggressive & violent, cannabis does not.
3) an ex-heroin addict said he would have preferred to not have ‘smoked that first joint’ BUT pointed out that PROHIBITION had caused most of his problems & if the drugs were available (from Govt. ?) he would have had a better time of it (treatment/rehab. ?).. saying that he had used for 20 years & been a ‘functioning member of society’..
I think this surprised the host, who seems to be inferring that ‘hard drugs are BAD !’ (end of story)
4) a couple of others said they did not agree that all drugs should be ‘decrim.’ BUT ‘weed is OK’ (paraphrase)
ONLY one person seemed to take a negative view ‘DRUGS are BAD !’ but even he, um’d & ah’d about cannabis
There were several text messages also giving support to cannabis law reform.
Toward the end of the show.. the host conceded that we should not be afraid to discuss these issues & that the ‘earlier caller had made some intelligent/valid points around health care & not just locking up users’.. BUT he was adamant that he would not agree with ‘hard drugs’ being decriminalised.. NOT what I really said anyway !
I’m hoping.. if nothing else it got some people thinking about ‘outdated stereotypical misinformation’ & it maybe time for law reform, not just sweeping it under the carpet, hoping ‘it will all just go away’