I write this, hoping that it may get through to either Mr. Key or his staff ?
Mr. John Key MP
Prime Minister (elect)
I am writing to ask why Aotearoa/NZ under your leadership is continuing a policy of : Zero-tolerance/prohibition of Cannabis ?
Most western nations are slowly but surely moving away from prohibition to either legalise or decriminalise possession for Medicinal use & or personal, adults only use of the ‘raw drug’ often called ‘marijuana’, including : Holland, Uruguay, Portugal, some states in Australia, Britain, some states in USA & several countries in the E.U., Canada etc. BUT NZ just continues to keep the blinkers on/sit on its hands & refuses to seriously debate or consider anything beyond the status quo.
Aotearoa/NZ, according to recent U.N. reports has amongst the highest levels, of cannabis use in the world. We continue to arrest, prosecute & punish our citizens at equally high rates. Thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens are being criminalised for possession, this often results in loss of job opportunity & travel restrictions. This can further result in alienation & labeling of these individuals as ‘crims’ alongside murderers, rapists, burglars/property crime & violent offenders. BUT all they are really doing is choosing to ingest another ‘recreational drug’, besides alcohol & tobacco. I have looked into much of the ‘official reasons’ why cannabis was first made an ‘illicit drug’ & found that much of it has been discredited as : lies, fallacies & plain misinformation. Whilst there is evidence that cannabis OVERUSE can cause mental problems in SOME users, can lead some users to move to ‘hard drugs’ etc. these are not foregone conclusions & often are extreme examples only. Most cannabis users, tend to use cannabis (& maybe alcohol & tobacco). The ‘gateway to hard drugs’ theory is unproven & a total fallacy. It is dealers that lead users to other drugs.
Under the current regime; we see : Black-markets, Gangsters, unrestricted sales to anyone with cash (inc. children), huge costs to the tax-payer to maintain prohibition, potential for corruption amongst law enforcement (bribes) etc. Surely a regime of : harm minimization, education, health care, rehab. would be a better option ? Transfer the policy area to Dept. of Health.
I am not calling for a policy of unrestricted legalisation.. I prefer the word: REGULATION as with current legal drugs alcohol & tobacco. In 2011 the NZ Law commission issued their report into the outdated ‘misuse of drugs act 1975’. This report is recommending, the current legislation be effectively overhauled & relaxing of some laws, including medicinal cannabis trials. This report (to my mind) has effectively been shelved & is collecting dust.
In 2013 Minister Dunne introduced the ‘Psychoactive substances bill’ that was temporarily enacted into law, but due to a public outcry, was overturned & now sits in limbo. The obvious thing missing from this legislation, was inclusion of ‘natural cannabis’ & other drugs currently listed in the current act. To my way of thinking, this was totally irrational. Many people I have spoken to, stated that they only tried ‘synthetic cannabis’ because ‘it was legal & available’ BUT most also said, that had natural cannabis been also legal & available, they would not have considered the more harmful synthetic drugs. I have written to Minister Dunne on more than one occasion to ask for updates on NZ drug law & just received a polite ‘thank-you, but no changes planned for the raw drug’ reply.. even for medicinal uses. He stated that NZ is bound by current U.N. conventions, (which I believe are due for review in 2016) & as such are required to maintain prohibition (paraphrased). BUT if you actually read the 1961 convention, it is clear that : medicinal, scientific & industrial uses are exempt (preamble statement) from such legislation & the focus is on preventing unregulated manufacture & supply. This does not demand a blanket, zero-tolerance prohibition regime, but in the zeal to implement, many nations did just this. Several of these nations (as mentioned) are now moving away from it. SO, I ask you, why is Aotearoa/NZ continuing to ignore recent polls & calls to regulate cannabis ?
Recent polls show that over 80% support medicinal use & over 50% support a regulated recreational market (similar to Colorado & Washington in USA & Holland). BUT again these levels of overwhelming support are being ignored ! Why is it so ?
I keep my fingers crossed that there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.. that the ‘war on drugs’ will eventually end in Aotearoa/NZ & a rational regime will one day come into play. In closing I would remind you, that Prohibition is doomed to fail, as it did with Alcohol in the 1920s USA. Filing up more & more courts & prisons, will never stop people using any drug, it will only cause more societal HARM !
Advocate for Cannabis Law Reform
4 October 2014