Legal high and cannabis regulation

By   /   April 18, 2014  /   10 Comments

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I have been working on a series of practical pieces of work in the short term that may pave the way for a more regulated approach to the sale of legal highs which may make the future discussion on legal sale of marijuana more acceptable.

legalcannabisnotice

I marched through Henderson last month with my fellow Westies to express our concern about the impact of so called “legal highs” on our community. Some people chanted loudly calling for banning, some expressing anger at the parliamentarians who voted for the bill.  I dont really share either of these views but we all shared one concern, concern for the impact on our community of these synthisised chemical cocktails on our vulnerable, young and poor.
This debate has changed  my thinking and over the last few months, in interviews on Bfm and on the Native Affairs program I have found myself advocating for a major change in the legal status of marijuana, this is a huge change for me as I have previously been wary of this  approach, we have enough trouble with alcohol I thought? This change in heart is as a result of talking to users, doctors, community workers and long time smokers of organic marijuana. The overwhelming consensus is that, compared with the chemically synthesised, variably manufactured psychoactive substances, organic marijuana is a way less damaging option.

The discussion now needs to move to an alternative solution. Challenging as it is the wider community, medical fraternity, law makers and decision makers need to collaborate on the way forward. It is easy to simply view the “legalise dope” as the same old debate we have heard for the last 50 years accompanied by public smoke ups,  dreadlocks and all the cliches. We have a different set of issues to address now and we need to put some intellectual grunt into the solutions. Legal highs have simply brought this debate to a head (pun intended).

I have been working on a series of practical pieces of work in the short term that may pave the way for a more regulated approach to the sale of legal highs which may make the future discussion on legal sale of marijuana more acceptable.

The regulating policy on where shops can be set up to sell highs is being worked through with our communities, we also have a by law coming into being in May to stop the selling and consumption of these products in public places and we are working with our community  and police on support and prevention programs for our youth. The other key is to make it easy for our community to be more empowered in the decisions that are being made on our behalf, we are putting together a community toolkit so that people can feed back their concerns and their user experiences directly to the Ministry of Health to ensure that when the government enter their next phase of debate on the issue, they have quality real time experience and feedback on which to base their decisions.

We cannot pretend that we can solve the issues by pushing them underground, the alternative is challenging but I think we are ready for the debate. The need to escape our day to day life via a variety of chemical substances is as old as humanity, lets get over the prejudice and on with finding a humane way forward.

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10 Comments

  1. Draco T Bastard says:

    More bollocks.

    Legalise marijuana, make the present ‘legal’ highs illegal.

    Simple. And, yes, a blanket ban is also really simple.

    At this point in time we don’t need any more debate about it.

    • Danyl Strypey Bruce says:

      Slow down there Draco, I think Penny is taking a brave and principled stand here. I note that our anti-nuclear policy started with local bodies declaring their region nuclear-free. I note also that while Colorado and Washington have legalized R18 cannabis businesses, the US federal government still has laws against possession or sale of cannabis.

      Considering all our central government politicians seem too gutless to show leadership on the cannabis issue, maybe local bodies in Aotearoa need to do what they did in the case of the nuclear issue? They can’t stop the police from busting people, but they can create bylaws to regulate an R18 cannabis business, building on the models they use to regulate alcohol, and now “legal high” businesses. If enough local bodies do this, perhaps the government will eventually catch up?

      Mind you, considering what’s happened in Washington and Colorado, and that 84% of those who responded to the Campbell Live poll supported change, I can’t see why any party wouldn’t adopt and campaign on a drug law reform policy (except those like NZ First or the Conservatives who rely on oldies and fundos for votes):
      http://www.3news.co.nz/MPs-and-marijuana–politicians-views-on-decriminalising-pot/tabid/817/articleID/340548/Default.aspx

      • Draco T Bastard says:

        I note that our anti-nuclear policy started with local bodies declaring their region nuclear-free.

        I note that local councils implementing a nuclear free zone didn’t break any laws whereas local councils legalising marijuana would.

        I note also that while Colorado and Washington have legalized R18 cannabis businesses, the US federal government still has laws against possession or sale of cannabis.

        They can’t stop the police from busting people, but they can create bylaws to regulate an R18 cannabis business…

        No they can’t. To do what you suggest the central government would have to pass a law allowing cities to decide if they would allow or ban – as happened in the time of prohibition.

        ind you, considering what’s happened in Washington and Colorado, and that 84% of those who responded to the Campbell Live poll supported change…

        We’re in the usual position of the politicians being far behind where the people are in regards to a matter.

  2. Glenn says:

    Legalize and tax cannabis. Prohibition isn’t working.

  3. finbar says:

    There is no way are the nats going to legalise canabis,it goes against their basic farm fence logic of drugies growing on their land,we don!t want them all over our land.So their compromise ( give them a man made chemical),we use chemicals all the time on our farms,does not harm the stock or produce,and we can tax it.

    Will Labour,see the ruin, that in five years, this chemical man made high will have on our youth.

    • Muribaba says:

      we use chemicals all the time on our farms,does not harm the stock or produce – just the people that eat it and the water ways near it.
      Really finbar theres a million ways your kids can,will and do screw themselves up GMO, Mcdondalds, KFC, aspartamine, cabolic acid ie coke, corn syrup, colorings etc etc even living in and breathing polluted city air and dont get me started on the issue of chemtrails and watching TV.

      Whats next? ban glue, petrol, solvents.
      more crap laws from a corrupt govt as a fix for bad parenting.
      like all the evils i mentioned above you have free will to do or not no one is being forced to eat, smoke, drink, or live this way its a choice.
      just a vote buying issue its election yr.

      • Danyl Strypey Bruce says:

        I wonder if this might be a case of heated agreement? Correct me if I’m wrong Finbar, but you appear to be supporting the idea that:
        * the Nats (like Labour before them) have dropped the ball on fixing the problems caused by prohibition
        * Labour need to recognise that legalizing real cannabis is the most effective way of solving the problems of fake cannabis
        * We need to go all the way to R18 sales of real cannabis, because the grow-your-own model doesn’t solve the problem, as under-18s will be jumping fences to pinch adult’s crops (although this could be solved by indoor growing under lights)

        As for the problem Finbar describes in his second comment, of under-18s hanging around outside dairies looking for someone to sell them fake cannabis, how many times have you had a kid asking you to buy them alcohol or cigarettes? Happens to me all the time. Does this mean we need prohibition of alcohol and cigarettes, or do we just need to be saying “no, grow up”?. Also, if the places selling real cannabis legally were R18 social clubs like the Daktory, where people could buy their cannabis and hang out for a while, the kids would get pretty bored and give up, as people wouldn’t just be making their purchase and leaving as they do at dairies with both fake cannabis and tobacco.

  4. finbar says:

    The logic goes like this i think.Yesterday the shops where closed.There was youth knocking on doors,some aged enough some not,buying legal highs at inflated prices.

    Now, when the shops are open,a legal age can buy the legal high.But if or not the youths standing outside the legal high shops, cannot get a legal age customer to buy it for them,there is a door in the suburbs that can,at inflated cost.

    Make no mistake,legalising drugs as Peter the dun dog says as Penny,it is a complex issue.Legalise canabis for possetion,or legalise canabis for home growing.one two plants per home,whatever.One thing is for certain even the home growers will be looking over the fence for some freebies.

  5. Muribaba says:

    what an assanine debate. Neocons dictating what you can and cant do with your own body! You social engineers make me sic and need beating with big sticks. im not society just a man of the land and want no part of dictatorial laws. The real crux for debate is should Govt be interfering in our lives in this way? NO Fn Way!

    • fatty says:

      That just sounds like an asinine libertarian rant…
      The term ‘social engineering’ is a buzzword used by American neoconservatives against progressives.
      From our current position we need ‘social engineering’ if we want to move from moralistic laws to harm reduction. Drugs cannot be reduced to individual choice as if they have zero effect on everyone, because drug use can be serious and they do shape and effect our society.
      Sure, weed is largely harmless to society, but if we enter the drug debate from a libertarian perspective then we get nowhere. We can’t go and legalise (remove all govt. legislation related to drugs) while we are still within capitalism (especially late-capitalism)…that’s a crazy idea