I read a media release that says the Assoc. Minister of health (resp. drug policy in NZ) is looking at changing the legal status of drugs, currently illegal, under class C of the law. (inc. cannabis) The report says his attitudes have changed over the last 8 years (in the role):
‘Associate Health Minister (name removed) dramatically changed his views on drug policy over the past eight years.’
‘Imagine a New Zealand where you could have any drug, without fear of running into trouble with the law.’
‘Our current law isn’t stopping New Zealanders from using drugs.’
‘This year’s Global Drug Survey quizzed 3795 Kiwis about their drug habits. Of them, 70.8 per cent said they’d used illegal drugs in the past, with 42.7 per cent using them in the past 12 months, and 13.6 per cent in the last month.’
‘More than two thirds (68.8 per cent) had used cannabis in their lifetime, a quarter had used MDMA (25.3 per cent) or LSD (25 per cent), and 8.9 per cent had used methamphetamine’
‘For some time now, (the minister) been talking up the merits of Portugal’s drug laws, where every drug is decriminalised – albeit with a caveat: If you’re caught with less than 10 days of any drug – cannabis, heroin, methamphetamine, or anything in between – you won’t be prosecuted. Instead, you’ll be fined or sent to treatment.’
‘Rather than creating a free-for-all, Portugal saw its people’s drug use slump: in the 1990s, one in every 100 people in Portugal was addicted to heroin; since then, overall drug use has dropped 75 per cent.‘
‘(the minister) wants to see that replicated in New Zealand.’
Then this from an expert; ‘Medical anthropologist (name removed) explains why Portugal’s model works: “I think it removes the sexy factor, because [drugs become] just another thing, and it allows people to be educated about it”.
“Because it’s not illegal anymore, we can actually talk about it. It’s very hard to have rational, truthful education and information about safe use [when] you can’t. If you remove it from this big shadow of evilness, then you can actually start talking about it.”
and this from the head of NZ Drug foundation; “The sky doesn’t fall in when you do a Portugal-style reform,” executive director (name removed) says.
“Decriminalise all drugs, stop it from being a law enforcement issue, make it a health issue and invest in health. We should be able to do this by 2020.”
Then these remarks:
‘Decriminalisation takes away criminal penalties, but could introduce civil ones, while legalisation means a legal market, usually regulated in a similar way to alcohol.’
‘In this year’s Global Drug Survey, 8500 cannabis users from around the world were asked how they think the drug should be regulated.’
‘Most favoured legalisation, but they were divided over the rules around sales: 38 per cent said cannabis should be available only through strictly regulated shopfront markets, with advertising banned; 27 per cent liked the same model, but said ads should be allowed. A further 10.5 per cent backed sales via collectives with a membership.’
“[Decriminalisation] starts from the same starting point as prohibition – that cannabis is inherently bad and we must stamp it out and it’s all harmful and we deter people from using it by giving them fines. We don’t agree with that as a starting point. Decriminalisation also doesn’t take care of the black market.”
*It is good to hear, that there is a serious debate going on.. BUT I will believe any change, when I see it. So far this current Govt. have all but refused to allow changes to cannabis laws, beyond a couple of strictly controlled ‘big pharma’ products. They have ruled out either ‘natural herb’ use OR a locally grown industry, instead looking at only buying, extracts from overseas (which are more expensive, in NZ than black-market herb) !