I rang a nationwide talk-back radio show overnight.. to discuss the recent issues around. release of details to a OIA request to NZ Treasury Dept. on cannabis issues. I mentioned:
1) treasury estimates $150 million could be raised annually, in tax on cannabis sales in Aotearoa/NZ
2) about $400 million is apparently, currently spent/(wasted) on drug law enforcement annually
3) about 80% of resources are spent on law enforcement & only about 20% on treatment/rehab.. Many think it should be reversed
4) 95% of people arrested on drug charges, continue to use after they are convicted/sentenced.. it’s effectively doing nothing to prevent use
5) several NGOs have backed up these claims.. inc. NZ Drug foundation & NZ Law Commission
The host listened then, questioned whether I use cannabis.. to which I replied “I had in my youth & still did occasionally”. He responded, that its only ‘you users’ who seem intent on law reform. (I should have said; that’s because ‘you non-users’ have no real incentive to do so.. wasn’t quick enough). He asked what I thought about other ‘illegal drugs’ inc. ‘Meth/P’ to which I responded that I personally think, users/addicts should not be arrested & punished BUT rather referred to treatment IF necessary. I went on to say that:
6) Alcohol is considered equivalent to a Class B drug (its Legal)
7) Tobacco is considered equivalent to a Class A drug (most addictive & harmful).. based on addiction rates & deaths attributed to it (its Legal)
8) I said its time there was a ‘level playing field’. Cannabis is a Class C drug (less harmful, BUT ILLEGAL)
9) NZ is really lagging behind most other ‘western/OECD countries’ who have either already decriminalised or regulated cannabis use: Australia, USA, Canada, much of EU etc.
At this point he thanked me for my call & cut me off.
I only heard one response from another caller:
“It’s interesting that ‘these people’ want to now ban tobacco.. BUT want to decriminalise & actually want to legalise NARCOTICS (his actual word)” then added.. “they just think we should ‘throw in the towel’ & give up” (paraphrased)
To which the host agreed, sounding like he does not support law reform. BUT then added “They think because alcohol is legal, these other drugs should be too”
** Whilst there does appear to be a ground swell of support for reform around the world & now in NZ.. there are obviously many ‘stick-in-the-muds’ who totally oppose it !