Does the ALCP want to be the solution or the problem?

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I am personally sick to death of the total lack of momentum on cannabis law reform. Over the last 6 years we put 1600 NZers into prison for joints and bongs. The madness of this failed war on drugs demands action.

If we can get over our petty bigotry with marriage equality, why can’t we jump start the debate on medicinal cannabis?

Purists will immediately declare anything less than full decriminalization is a sell out. Those people should be ignored. The vested interests in keeping cannabis illegal are simply too great to ever see that jump occur. The tobacco and alcohol industries will never want their addictive poisons to face another competitor and the NZ Police simply gain too much power to invade our lives to ever agree to full decriminalization.

But there can be another way forward and if we want cannabis law reform in 2014 similar to the scale we saw in America, then the ALCP should adopt the strategy I am suggesting to them.

In the 17 year history of the ALCP, the closest they have ever gotten to the 5% threshold was in 1996 with 1.66% of the vote. The mood within the MMP referendum is to lower the threshold to 4%, but even that would require a result unachieved by the ALCP in quarter of a century.

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Put bluntly the chances of the ALCP winning 4% of the vote to gain political representation to effect a change in the cannabis law is zero.

This is a pretty challenging fact. One could argue that the cannabis fight is righteous and worthy of fighting on regardless, but I’d prefer a strategy that actually offers some hope of changing the law rather than the empty moral victory of endlessly banging one’s head against the brick wall of the establishment.

What ALCP do have however, (based on your 2011 result) is .5% of the vote. The question I pose to the ALCP is ‘what is the best strategy you can use to maximize that .5% of the vote to gain political traction to reform cannabis law’?

I would suggest that the ALCP wind down their direct political party aspirations, and instead, become a political lobby group. .5% of the vote to MANA, or to ACT in an election that will be as tight as the 2014 one is already shaping up to be, could be the difference between the left governing or the right governing. Instead of asking your supporters to vote ALCP, the ALCP advisors their members on which political party to party vote for who will do the most for cannabis reform.

To ACT and MANA, .5% is another MP. If Medicinal Cannabis was the goal the endorsed Party could make that a bottom line.

Why ACT or MANA and not the other Political Parties?

1: Being from opposite sides of the political spectrum and with the .5% assuring a second MP allows ALCP voters more leverage in terms of policy gains.
2: The Greens are too invested in middle class voters to spook them. If it’s a call between Finance Minister and decriminalisation, you know they are going to take Finance.
3: Labour are too busy chasing National voters than progressive voters.
4: National will never budge. Ever.
5: ACT already have a liberal drugs policy, the problem is John Banks.
6: Hone Harawira has already voted for medicinal cannabis in the past.

As a lobby group you are offering endorsement to the political party who will give you the best cannabis reforms. Each offer would have to be evaluated as to how implementable it was with whatever other Party formed the Government.

This way you maximize your political influence with the .5% leverage you have and you can gain actual momentum on the issue after 17 years of fighting for change.

The ALCP can choose to chase windmills once more and fail again to generate any traction on Cannabis reform, or they can seize this strategy, end being a political party, reform as a lobby group and start lobbying ACT & MANA for their endorsement.

It comes down to whether the ALCP want change in 2014 or more wasted years.

19 COMMENTS

  1. No, for the first time I will not be voting for a major party, I cannot vote Act due to Banks, I cannot vote Mana since Hone tho a good guy has issues he needs to sort and apologise for. For the first time ever total disenchantment could see mainstream voters make a protest ALCP vote.

  2. It makes sense from a strategic position. The problem is convincing people who’ve sunk a large chunk of their identity into a position that this is a sensible move.

    To poster 1, Rachel Ford: Mana getting a mere 1.2% would’ve given us Annette Sykes instead of National Drone #59, which would’ve been fantastic even if only to watch John Banks splutter in indignation. (Personally I would’ve preferred Sue Bradford but that’s not my call to make)

    So it’s not necessarily a vote for Hone; it’s a vote for his posse, which last time around contained some pretty cool cats.

  3. 2: The Greens are too invested in middle class voters to spook them.

    http://www.greens.org.nz/factsheets/frequently-asked-questions-regarding-cannabis-law-reform

    Yeah, I don’t think people, even the middle class, is being too spooked by decriminalisation of marijuana.

    That said, I think that ALCP probably would do better as a lobby group. Especially if they widened from just marijuana to hemp as a whole. There’s lots and lots of things that can be done with hemp. I’ve even heard that clothing made from hemp is better than clothing made from cotton.

    • Cannabis 101: Hemp is the fibre from the cannabis plant. It is not a different plant. The best hemp fibre is from Cannabis Sativa (the high THC plant).
      Draco T Bastard I recommend you have a look at this book

      http://www.jackherer.com/thebook/

      Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, unlike NORML which focuses only on the recreational side of cannabis, focuses on all aspects of the plant. Medicinal, Industrial, as well as recreational.

      We do not support ‘decriminalisation’ but rather removing cannabis from the Misuse of Drugs Act and have it regulated alongside alcohol and tobacco.

      Decriminalisation just means that if you are caught with any cannabis you will not receive a criminal conviction, just a fine (like a parking ticket). Your only source of cannabis still is from tinny houses run by gangs, who will still be raking in all that tax free income.

      ALCP would like to see cannabis taxed, with that money going back into things like Health, Education, not gangs pockets.

      Because the cannabis issue is becoming more mainstream, with the development and exposure of cannabis as a legitimate medicine, then more people like Rachael Ford will consider voting for ALCP.

      If Bomber is so passionate about changing the cannabis laws in New Zealand maybe he should consider joining ALCP as a candidate in the 2014 elections. His energy and exposure would be more that welcome.

      But supporting Mana or ACT will not change the cannabis laws in New Zealand.

      If people are interested in checking ALCP out you can find us on Facebook or go to our web page alcp.org.nz

      • Good comment, Steven. However, it is not true that NORML “focuses only on the recreational side of cannabis.”

        At the recent NORML conference, NORML re-committed itself to its three campaign goals:
        • Treating drug use as a health issue, not a crime
        • Safe, legal access to medicinal cannabis
        • A regulated, taxable market for cannabis and other low-risk drugs

        Regulate cannabis like alcohol, says reform group

      • @ Steve. I agree there is room for a drug law reform party. I doubt giving endorsement will automatically give them ALCP’s share of the vote. BTW NORML supports the commercial growing of hemp and the medicinal and spiritual use of cannabis.

  4. The ‘police are too invested’ argument is bullshit; they’ll have change thrust upon them once decriminalisation/legalisation becomes the default popular position. The police can kick and scream, but if a politicians see votes in it, then it’ll be a done thing. That might take time, but when people realise the sky hasn’t fallen in Colorado, they’ll start asking questions about the stupid amount of money we waste on marijuana prosecution and enforcement. Conservative (anti)logic can only stonewall for so long in the face of empirical evidence.

  5. How could you possibly endorse this if the addition of ALCP voters might mean ACT get yet another turn in parliament. Shudder. It’s just not even slightly worth it.

  6. You could just as well say to Labour and the Greens “Hey, there’s a risk that the ALCP will get so many votes that the centre-left won’t win the 2014 election, why don’t you make cannabis law reform a major priority so that this doesn’t happen?”

    This would be equally as logical – did you consider it?

    • Election after election, the ALCP gets 0% in the polls and then gets about 12,000 votes on election day, and these votes don’t change much whether or not there is a local ALCP candidate. Both facts tend to confirm the idea that almost the entire ALCP vote is decided on election day and is a protest vote. If so, it can’t be directed by anyone (not even the ALCP leaders) towards any other parties like ACT or Mana. These 12000 are mainly votes cast by people who are totally disengaged from mainstream politics.

      The ALCP vote is too small to be relevant to the bigger parties, but the ALCP campaign is very relevant to drug law reform, with some positive and some negative effects (like most campaigns…).

  7. I think it’s a bit blunt to call it a protest vote. If you ask me, you just have to smoke out the potential ALCP voters. They’re like roaches, for every one you see there another thousand who’d be prepared to give you their vote if you could spark up some policy on issues other than cannabis (maybe education?).

    • Dumb post. The ALCP could be like the Libertarianz – it could add all these extra policies and get half as many votes.

  8. Maybe the real lobbying should be directed towards all the cannabis smokers in NZ to get out there and VOTE. If there really are over 700,000 of us and we ALL voted for the same party, surely we can affect change.

  9. Bomber joins a legacy of journos and political commentators, esp since MMP, that have completly missed the point. It is not necessary to do anything, it is what it is. MMP makes it so. If pundits were so blessed with insight and knowledge elections would be unnecessary. A quick poll of a select few, job done. That would be fine if only they hadnt missed the crucial facts, cannabis legislation issues have influenced every election since MMP got the tilt and the ALCP can take credit for that. What issue dominates the outcomes around the 5% threshold?

    The Waikato University amalgum of polls in 1999 captured it beautifully, the chart diverging between the two parties after the very day Jenny Shipley attacked the Greens co-leader, Jeanette Fitsimmons over what is a very conservative position. Labour won.

    Medicinal cannabis doesnt do justice to why cannabis is in the MODA.

    Hone, Mana, has said “look at all the problems it has done to our people”, while ignoring that the fact that his whanau profit on both sides of the prohibition ledger and oversees disproportionate incarceration in one of the countries in which cannabis is persued at all costs and dangerously both unaccounted and deficit financed. ACT tossed out the only decent law reform advocate they had in a leadership coup replacing him with a high priest of prohibition, former Minister of Police ‘dirty cop’ Banks.

    Sorry Bomber, your missive doesnt cut it. ALCP is more relevent the longer the process takes, and only become irrelevent when the need to exist on the hustings ceases.

    This law is sexist, ageist and racist, andin effect neither moral nor just.

    And that is far bigger than ALCP.

    • The only reason ALCP exists is because there is a total lack of moral courage in politicians from other parties.
      The way things are stacked the electoral process appears to be the only way to achieve this change. This lack of any legal remedy, in itself, proves the injustice of the current situation.
      Our fundamental human rights were given a backseat in 1961 by the UN Single Convention Treaty and locked in the boot in 1971 by the “war on drugs”.
      Constant bowing to pressure from UN and US have left us with the torturous MoDA, legislation which has had disastrous effects on our NZ people, particularly Maori.
      For the sake of our nation’s well-being (social, economic, environmental) and our people’s health (physical, mental, spiritual) we must end the prohibition of cannabis.
      “This law is sexist, ageist and racist, and in effect neither moral nor just.” It is, in fact, mental torture and there are laws against that…
      Yes, this is bigger than ALCP and the election circus.

  10. That’s a darn good idea! Then the larger party would hopefully include it in their manifestos and when they get into parliament it could become a very real possibility – I like it! However, its been done before (the idea of stepping down the party) but that didn’t work so I’m still gonna vote ALCP for both party and candidate!! I know…. crazy…. yes… But I is steaming mad. Or maybe ALCP party and Labour candidate.

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