I watched a weekly current affairs show this morning.. they were discussing the recent debates/issues arising, around cannabis/drug laws & the upcoming UN conference (UNGASS).
1) They started with an interview with the Assoc. Health minister (resp. Drug Policy) who just tiptoed around the issue; talked about recently released drug policy, supposedly supporting a ‘health approach’ NOT necessarily a law enforcement one.. BUT in the next breath, ruled out any moves to ‘soften the laws’ (Decrim. or legal regulation) in the near future in Aotearoa/NZ. The minister is currently in New York to attend the UNGASS. The one thing he did highlight was that many countries (inc. NZ) are pushing to have the Death Penalty removed from Int’l Drug policy (as in some Asian countries). He left me thinking that UNGASS will likely be just a talk-fest with little change really planned.. we shall see ?
2) Then a doctor who has changed his stance on ‘DRUGS’ from a law enforcement approach to a health & treatment alternative. He said that currently about 85% of all funds go into policing & criminal justice & only about 15% into alternatives; treatment/rehab. etc. He stated it should be reversed.
3) Followed by a ‘panel of experts’ discussion: a uni lecturer & two ex-politicians. They all seemed to be agreeing that there is ‘a mood for change’ to Drug laws in Aotearoa/NZ & that the 41-year-old ‘Misuse of Drugs act 1975’ is well passed its use-by date. They also seemed to agree that the current minister is effectively ‘all talk but no action’ on any change agenda.
It was interesting that one of these ex-politicians.. was once a staunch ‘anti-law reformer’ BUT seemed to have done a 180-degree turn; he said he supported decriminalsation of cannabis & possibly legal regulation (similar to Colorado etc.). He went on to say that ‘law reform does NOT have to be years down the road‘ as the minister had suggested.. BUT Med-use could be changed today & even ‘low-level’ cannabis personal use could be decrim. in short order. He stated that many current Govt. MPs drink alcohol & therefore would never push to have it banned.. BUT most did not openly admit to ‘smoking Dak’ & did not really care about law reform. He said it was clear that Alcohol is the more harmful & prohibition is not the solution (esp. to cannabis), he gave the example that at sports events etc., it is the over-intoxicated alcohol drinkers, that often start the fights.. NOT the odd person; smoking a joint & that much of the family violence in NZ is fuelled by Alcohol too.
All seemed to be saying that it is the ‘conservative views’ of the current Right-wing Govt. that has put the brakes on any law reform.. that a change of Govt. was likely needed to get any substantive changes. I agree 100% ! 🙂