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2013 International Cannabis Policy Symposium: Day 3

By   /  November 29, 2013  /  5 Comments

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The only real discussion on prohibition is occurring today with the prohibition debate between a team arguing for regulation and a team arguing to keep the current prohibition madness in place.

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Day 3
I waltz off the elevator to munch on tiny croissants filled with Swiss cheese and champagne ham when Drug Foundation High Priest Ross Bell hails me.

“I see you haven’t posted your second day”, he hisses.

Posted it this morning, I was up late last night’, I chirp.

“It better have been more positive than your first Day“, he growls.

“Whatever do you mean”? I ask in wide eyed surprise

“It was all fucking lies”, he spits. Which I thought was an odd thing to say to a blogger who is more than happy to quote him verbatim.

Clearly Mr Bell has missed the latest research showing the influence of blogs.

I shrug and set off to tackle Kevin Hague over what’s eating David Hay.

The only real discussion on prohibition is occurring today with the prohibition debate between a team arguing for regulation and a team arguing to keep the current prohibition madness in place.

Kevin Sabet leads the prohibitionists. He is from the American based think tank, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and author of Reefer Sanity: Seven great myths about marijuana. He’s up against Steve Rolles from the British think tank Transform Drug Policy Foundation, and author of How to regulate cannabis: A practical guide.

Steve Rolles is up first and with bullet point laser beam precision cuts through the nonsense of the current prohibition over regulation debate.

He starts with an overview…

Where are we up to?
-Medicinal Cannabis
-Cannabis decrim in 25 countries
-Cannabis social clubs in Spain & Belgium
-Legally regulated markets in Washington/Colorado and Uruguay
-Public opinion
-Synthetic cannabinoids
-Now mainstream, high legal debate: heads of state, UN, Global commission, OAS etc

…he notes globally prohibition is losing and then goes onto define the type of regulation…

What is regulation?
-Distinction between decrim/legalisation
-Regulation if risky products and behaviours is a primary function of gov
-Regulation is the norm
-Activities that take place outside if a regulatory framework remain prohibited
-Distinction from unregulated free markets
-Regulation is only part if policy picture

…calls for some basic agreements on why you want regulation…

Aims of cannabis regulation?
-Protecting and improving public health
-Reducing drug related crime
-Improving security and development
-Protecting the young and vulnerable
-Protecting human rights
-Providing good value for money

…and even goes into…

Elements of regulation model?

Regulation of cannabis products
-Ratio of thc & Cbd can be monitored
-Progressive taxation
-Plain packaging

…his conclusion? The current prohibition system is not working and it’s creating counterproductive results.

Next up is the argument for prohibition.

Kevin spends 5minutes begging the audience to have an open mind. Demands we think about the children and connects cannabis to cocaine use in the same breath. Accepts caning people in Asia and the Middle East is too far.


The entire crux of his argument is that because people can’t be relied on to be rational then we can’t trust them with Cannabis???

How the screaming hell is that an argument?

His concerns boil down to big corporations making huge profits and that will drive more cannabis use. His argument is that we can’t stop corporate forces if we regulate cannabis, but the obvious counter is that the current system is putting those billions and billions and billions into the hands of organised crime. This guy is honestly claiming it’s worse to put those profits into the hands of corporations as opposed to going into the hands of Mexican drug Cartels, the mafia and the other organised crime fraternity?

I realise that there is very little point staying as my suspicions had been proven. There is no more bloody debate on cannabis prohibition, the debate was won when it was first argued. Prohibition doesn’t work and creates vast social carnage, to be told that we need to accept that current situation because people can’t be trusted if it was regulated and that it’s better for that money to go to organized crime is unscientific quackery mixed with insanity.

While prohibition lasts, we will have legal fake cannabis which is more harmful than the illegal real cannabis.

The debate has been won, what is required now is some real political leadership. Sadly that type of courage is harder to find than a joint at an uptight Drug Foundation cocktail party.

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  1. Whyte Rushan says:

    …yes..that is why I did not pay $800 bucks to be insulted by ham eating pastry fillers…who want to control all the content…

    your potted summaries, martyn…are…

    I’ll be attending David Nutt next week…seeing he is in auckland…he’s in the medical school…not opposite the cop shop…

    keep up the good work!

  2. fatty says:

    What is the point of the symposium? Is it to spread information which we’ve all known for 30 years?
    Surely we are at a point now that a massive percentage of the population has tried it and knows the damaging effect of prohibition. The only thing we need to do now is to pressure political parties. The Greens used to talk sense, but now they never mention it, and Labour really needs to start offering different policies (weed prohibition is an important part of the neoliberalisation of the prison ‘industry’)
    …but I still ain’t seeing much change

  3. John L says:

    Thank you Martyn,for an always interesting column..Funnily enough, the conference didn’t occur, according to Granny Herald, as there’s been no coverage whatsoever in its’ august pages.
    Unfortunately,it appears to have been just another talkfest, with no real action to show for it.
    We all agree the present situation is not working,but can’t make our minds up about what to do…

  4. pink gin hag says:

    Wow! this sounds like Fifa debating breastfeeding issues (like “should players take time out to breastfeed in the change rooms?)

  5. Danyl Strype says:

    Thanks for your spirited and descriptive summaries Bomber, were there any good ideas generated at the NORML-sponsored law change activism discussion held separately from the conference? Any you can share on a public blog?

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