I listen, watch & read quite a lot in the local media around drug issues in Aotearoa/NZ. One thing that is apparent is how misinformed ‘Joe or Jo Kiwi’ really are on ‘DRUGS’ & the laws.. I’m not an ‘expert’ but I have spent about 10 years study the topic (out of interest). I too grew up, believing that all DRUGS were illegal. That Aotearoa/NZ, like other countries had a ‘Zero-tolerance’ approach. This is generically referred to as PROHIBITION. BUT in recent years I have discovered the following :
1) Not all drugs are prohibited. Alcohol, Tobacco & pharmaceuticals are legal.. but many do not actually see them as ‘Drugs’
2) Most of the ‘official Information’ around illegal drugs, is in fact over-exaggerated misinformation/Propaganda.
3) Aotearoa/NZ is a signatory to the ‘United Nations Single Convention on ‘Narcotic drugs’ 1961. As a result the Govt. implemented the Misuse of Drugs act 1975
4) There is a general belief that under the MODA ’75 that all ‘Drugs’ in the schedules are effectively prohibited, this is not true. Medicinal uses are exempted in section 8.
5) The UN conventions do not demand total prohibition either. In 2006 a bill passed into law, licensing cultivation of Cannabis for its industrial uses (HEMP). Until then it was also seen as ‘Marijuana’ & also banned.. in error !
6) The focus of the UN convention is about controlling cultivation, manufacture & supply. BUT the majority of arrests in Aotearoa/NZ are for small quantities of cannabis for personal use.
7) Whilst many other countries in the OECD/’western world’ are now moving away from ‘zero-tolerance’, the Govt. here seem unwilling to seriously debate it, they even say ‘there is not enough support for it’. BUT recent polls have found over 75% of adult respondents DO support law reform. This is being totally IGNORED by the ‘power brokers’.. WHY ?
8) The media often report on the latest ‘Drug Bust’ (including ‘reality TV shows’) but almost completely ignore the large numbers of violent assaults, hospital admissions & murders, directly attributed to ALCOHOL. Tobacco is the no. 1 killer !
9) Huge amounts of tax payers dollars are spent annually, maintaining this failed policy, because politicians run scared from any serious discussion about law reform.
10) Apathy is the biggest enemy of democracy.. nowhere is this more obvious than in Aotearoa/NZ, that has amongst the highest levels of ‘illegal drug use’ & also arrest & incarceration too. BUT the majority still vote for the party who have NO other agenda for drug law, than the status quo. 😦