Want to get rid of synthetic cannabis? Legalize real cannabis

Cannabis leaf
Have we managed to appreciate the madness that synthetic cannabis is legal yet more harmful than organic cannabis which is illegal?
I find the current moral panic over synthetic cannabis difficult to become concerned with when alcohol is FAR more lethal and dangerous. If this was really about public health we would burn the breweries and napalm KFC. The Psychoactive Substances Act has regulated the market, slashing  the number of retailers from 4000 to less than 180 while throwing dozens of products off the market.
Tight fisted Government regulation via the PSA is the answer, synthetic cannabis however is a stupid question.
Making synthetic cannabis illegal is impossible with the ability to always stay one step ahead of the authorities by  changing the chemical structures of the drugs,  so why not do the one thing we should have done at the very beginning and legalise real cannabis?
Does anyone seriously think the demand for synthetic cannabis would increase if  real cannabis was available?
The arguments have all been had and cannabis wins. No one has died from an overdose of cannabis, the  amount of taxation it would generate is vast, it takes power away from organised crime and the  mental health issues are limited to a small percentage who start smoking before they are 18.
There is no bloody reason why something as relatively harmless as cannabis is illegal when booze, tobacco and now synthetic cannabis is legal and far more detrimental to ones health.
How in Gods name is America, the home of the homicidal  war on drugs now more liberal on Cannabis than we are?
Why can’t we grow up as a country and use the PSA structure that already exists to sell and tax and regulate Cannabis?
It’s embarrassing to watch a debate this immature.


  1. One of the most insidious effects of marijuana being illegal is that it turns otherwise law abiding people into enemies of the police. This actually hurts the police more than they realise, and they should be the first to call for its legalisation.

  2. I have read and heard many reports over the years that indicate that today’s cannabis is a lot stronger and more dangerous than the stuff the hippies used to smoke in the 60s. There are too many dangerous drugs freely available in this country and making one more dangerous one legal is not going to help our society in any way.

    • yr contention that pot is now stronger is a prohibitionist-ploy to scare the parents of today who may have smoked when younger..

      ..it is complete and utter bullshit..

      ..and what proves it to be bullshit is the court records for dope busts stretching back decades..

      ..because as part of the evidence in those trials..the potency of the cannabis was/is tested..

      ..and those results show little/minimal-variations between then and now..

      ..and as one who has smoked dope since the days of thai/sumatran..

      ..(and let’s not forget durban-poison from sth africa..bless that durban poison from sth africa/those straat boats..)

      ..i can confirm that good dope is good dope..

      ..and it has always been that way..

      ..and no..worried parents..the pot now is not much stronger than it used to be..

      ..(and in related news..campbell-live ran a poll..(16.000 sample-size)..and it showed 84% in favour of ending cannabis prohibition.).

      ..and..what on earth are the greens scared of..?..

      ..are they waiting for 100% support..?

      ..before braving the pot-waters..)

    • “today’s cannabis is a lot stronger and more dangerous than the stuff the hippies used to smoke in the 60s”

      Even if that is true, it’s a redundant argument.
      It seems odd to think that a smoker would smoke the same amount of weed regardless of whether it was some leafy 1960’s cabbage, or it was some potent hydroponic weed. People will smoke until they’re high to the level they want to be, just as they did back in the 60s.

      “There are too many dangerous drugs freely available in this country and making one more dangerous one legal is not going to help our society in any way.”

      Weed being feely available doesn’t seem to decrease with making it illegal. It’s late in the evening at the moment, and do you know what drug is the easiest for most people to get right now? The local dealer stays open way later than the booze pushers do.
      Your views seem to be based on morals, rather than the outcome of our drug laws. If you think weed is damaging, then that’s fair enough, I think it can be for a lot of people too…but the laws are more damaging to our society, they cost us more too. If you really want to see weed use (and the negative effects of weed use) decrease, then you should consider decriminalisation with an open mind. Drug abuse is a heath issue, we need to stop marginalising users.

    • Dangerous, no. Still no deaths recorded ever, anywhere, as a result of using cannabis. Stronger, sort of. There are strains available which are bred to raise levels of active ingredients (like THC), per volume of plant, but all this means is you can smoke less bud for the same effect. But, so what? Prohibition still results in more violence, death, and official corruption than any amount of smoking pot does, now or then.

      Prohibition costs the public money, while regulation and taxation provides the public money, and makes R18 enforceable across the whole market. No market for organised crime, and all vendors rewarded with legitimate status by refusing to sell to, or for, under-18s. Nobody’s sons and daughters locked up for non-violent drug offences. No demand for synthetic cannabis. Isn’t that what we all want?

    • @Mike the Lefty

      So what?

      The more dangerous a drug is, the more vital that it is not controlled by criminals. Everything should be legal.

      Where this has been tried, the harm caused by drugs, AND drug usage itself has gone down. See Portugal etc.

      If you actually care about people, and want to minimise harm, then criminalising a (potential) health issue, is in contradiction to all the facts, all the evidence – and is instead, taking on faith, the lies repeated by institutions who’s prime goal is to self-perpetuate.

    • Your first point is very correct.

      “The study, led by University of Canterbury psycholinguist Dr. Viktor Nilsson, searched over 20,000 police statements and documents for hard data about how much stronger cannabis was at time of writing when compared to a short number of years ago(1963)….


      ‘Researchers Find Cannabis Now Six Billion Times Stronger than Previous’

  3. The cannabis debate is almost as embarrassing as having a poll on your website that lists the Internet Party and not the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

  4. “How in Gods name is America, the home of the homicidal war on drugs now more liberal on Cannabis than we are?”

    The USA can be backward at a federal level, but at a state level, they have places that make us look inbred. Why is Labour stuck with a neoliberal / conservative approach to crime?
    Ironically, whenever I hear Labour announce a new policy, I have to smoke 3 tinnies just to numb the pain.

  5. Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed drugs czar and press gallery-ogler Dunne made these insightful comments in today’s “Stuff live chat”:

    12:09 Comment From Rachel
    Have officials advised on the option of legalising cannabis, thereby offering an alternative to synthetic cannabis? What was their view? If not, would you consider asking them to?

    12:10 Peter Dunne: No and no

    12:26 Comment From Alex
    Would you agree that synthetic cannabis is popular due to the illegality of cannabis? It seems that cannabis is the lesser of the two evils as well as having medicinal applications. Why can we not re-evaluate cannabis with regard to the Misuse of drugs Act?

    12:27 Peter Dunne: No. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    The man is a waste. Full chat here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/global-drug-survey/9947906/Live-chat-Peter-Dunne-and-synthetic-cannabis

    It’s a pity that the results of the global drug survey, far from spurring a calm media discussion about drugs and alcohol and possible law reform, has just become a soap box for those who wish to spout alarmist bullshit (including about synthetic cannabis, although I wouldn’t pay for that stuff myself).

      • Exactly, so when people who smoked in the 60s, gave up – easily – and went into the closet for 20 or 30 years, and then smoke for the first time in decades, “By gum! What a potent wakky bakky this one is, a million times stronger than in my day”. Oh yeah, was beer 1% alcoholic in your day too? Seriously, you can’t base policy which affects whether or not to put people in *prison*, on this kind of pseudo-history.

        • I think there probably were proper clinical trials done on the THC levels in 1960s cannabis… and today’s stuff is more often than not, selectively bred in hydroponics labs etc – so is actually a lot stronger.

          Pot today is a fuck of a lot stronger than it was even in the 1980s – skunk is really a different drug to the stuff we used to do – especially in the UK. If you want to get specific, since the 80s THC concentration has gone from about 3.5% to about 8%. There is clinical data to back this up.

          None of which matters. It could be as strong (and as dangerous) as crack, and it would still make zero sense to treat a health issue as a criminal one. If you’re interested in harm-minimisation, and actually care about people, rather than just wanting to control them, then all the evidence points towards needing to legalise everything. Get the law out of the equation completely. It’s really, really not working.

          • Now Nick, let’s not give the prohibitionist liars this one. Yes, there are *some* strains of cannabis much stronger per volume of plant matter, and these are the ones most likely to end up being nabbed in police raids. But there are also strains just the same, or weaker, as those in the 60s. Growing conditions (indoor vs outdoor etc) also have an effect on concentration of active ingredients (THC, CDB etc) and therefore strength. The invention of spirits didn’t suddenly make all liquor as strong as absinthe, but this is the dishonest implication being made about cannabis strength. It’s spin.

    • The technology available to process and concentrate cannabis oil and other forms of the drug weren’t available in the 60s. Try to find some old hippy who still uses it and ask him if there is any difference in weed then and now, I bet he would say that today’s is much more potent. Any drug that is highly refined and concentrated is potentially more dangerous than its more raw unrefined counterpart, even stuff like caffeine. This is why I say it is dangerous and shouldn’t be legalized.

      • i’ll stick my hand up as ‘an old hippy who still uses’..

        (tho’..in my defence..i never wore a headband..and i am pretty sure i never said ‘peace man!’..)

        ..and no..the good pot now isn’t stronger than good pot from then..

        ..(if you compare leaf from then..with skunk from now..of course..!..and/but..?..)

        ..and a little bit of science for you..

        ..there is a ceiling with pot-potency..(25%..i believe..)

        ..and to get stronger than that you have to move into more refined cannabis..hash/oil..

        ..and haven partaken in a few international global dope-centres..

        ..i can tell you the strongest/highest pot i have ever smoked was grown in the blue mountains outside sydney..by an artisan-grower..

        ..(have i just coined a new pot-marketing term there..?..’our pot is grown/nurtured especially for you..by our team of artisan-growers’..)

        ..and equal first for very very high high was honey-oil..once again..made by an artisan..in wellingon..

        ..as i understand it..

        ..and both of them much stronger than the commercial skunk etc available today..


        ..and yr ‘refined’ argument doesn’t hold much water..

        ..weed is to hash/hash-oil..

        ..as beer is to spirits..

        ..the basic fact is that young people (esp..but not only..ahem..!..) like to take intoxicants..to get high..

        ..the other basic fact is that cannabis is the safest..(and by a country mile)..of all/any intoxicants..

        ..just decriminalise/regulate/tax..

        ..(the legal-high problems will vanish..)

        ..what are we waiting for..?

        ..like the greens..?

        ..100% support..?

        ..before we move..?

        ..going on that campbell live poll last nite..mike the lefty is one of the holdout 16% who support retaining prohibition..

        ..and you’ll never get everyone to agree..

        ..on anything..

        • ..and no..the good pot now isn’t stronger than good pot from then..

          Well, actually, you seem to be wrong on that:

          More recent research undertaken at the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project found that average THC levels in cannabis samples between 1975 and 2007 steadily increased,[50] for example THC levels in 1985 averaged 3.48% by 2006 this had increased to an average of 8.77%.

          Although I suppose it’s possible that they were comparing some nice fresh bud with some old dried stuff that had been in the kitchen cupboard for forty years.

          • i think i wd rely on the court records/forensic testing from both america and here..

            ..from then and now..

            ..as/for giving ‘the good oil’ on pot-potency..

      • And in your absolutely outstanding logic and grasp of the issue, why do you think the Hydroponicly grown weed is stronger than the out-doors stuff of old that could be freely grown or that most turned a blind eye to or were ignorant of..? Clue: if you could grow your carrots legally in a garden would you still do so in a cupboard? & if you could just grow your own would you still go down to the tinnie shop? .. incase you still cant grasp the reason why *some* strains are stronger, its due to competition in the huge and unregulated black market that that is the case, just like car manufacturers aimed for higher horsepower & torque, to market and sell their product.. it doesnt mean that because boyracers have WRXs that jane down the road cant get a corolla.. So legalise weed, and anyone can grow their own, those that cant be bothered get from licenced sellers (like that other hugely overused drug alcohol, the one that contributes to 470,000 deaths worldwide every year, Vs zilch pot, & if MDMA was pure, maybe about 30 at max)

        If the people who argue against ending the collective & brainwashed lunacy of prohibition think business as usual worked then how come drug use has gone up exponentially on every corner of the planet since prohibition? Do you think the Cartel would be making billions if cocaine users could just get it legally from govts? Do you think ecstacy pills would have harmful substances like PMA instead of the MDMA that has been proven to be less harmfull than alcohol? Do you think if Alcohol was made illegal tomorrow that within days there wouldnt be illegal dealers, & a huge & varied market, and that over time the purity and safety of the alcohol would drop as a result of non regulation, & the associated crime would increase?

        Whatever agrgument you can come up with its all based on falacies, the simple truth is that if weed was made legal, synthetic weed analogues would disappear overnight, but if all drugs were made legal, then the markets everywhere would actually diminish as has been proven by Portugal, as there wouldnt be the risk/reward for manufacturers to bother.. as it is, its the clamping down on MDMA & LSD precursors that has lead ultimately to the clusterfuck of the pandoras box of unknown and untested analogues made in china, a different substance every week, all sold as “legal” are proving to be far more dangerous than that offered by “illegal” drug dealers.. yes you read that right, people are dying from “legal” chemicals, completely untested & made only for blind profit, a new one every week, some now far more dangerous than “illegal” traditional recreational drugs that have a long hstory of known effects vs the chinese made “legal” chemical analogues, some of which are only just being revealed to science let alone researched.. Sweden has one of the harshest drug policies in EU, yet 14 people died from one “legal” high in one month, meanwhile the Netherlands, where 99% of the ecstacy pills contain atleast 50% MDMA, the most pure pills in the world, has the lowest ecstacy related harm.. as a result of more open policies enabling public drug testing at nightclubs..

        Complete accross the board worldwide drug legalisation is the only option moving forward, traditional drugs that are what people want & have been used for decades, & in the case of weed & mushrooms, thousands of years, are far far safer than the russian roulette of legal new drugs coming out now, the market for which only exists because of world drug policy.. legalise everything, educate, tax, make fuck loads of money from tax, regulate, licence . and watch drug crime and so much other crime in general slowly diminish.. the only loosers will be the corrupt officials, the cartels, & the Banks who profit hugely, as evidence shows that drug money is what kept the banks afloat in 2008 GFC-money that countries are mising out on..

  6. I don’t know how these synthetic drugs can possibly be legal when they have not been thoroughly tested for their effects on the human body.

    Multinational drug companies have to go through years of research in the USA to prove their drugs are harmless and safe and have to get Environmental Protection Agency approval.

    Something is seriously wrong with our laws and the system here in NZ when we can allow these physcoactive substances to be sold openly through our retail stores without thorough testing.

    • We’re letting the invisible free hand of the market sort it all out.

      It’s not really working very well though.

  7. There is a weird streak of Puritanism that runs through part of NZ society that hampers pragmatic approaches to social and health issues. Dunne would be an example of one who embodies such holier than thou attitudes. Meanwhile, as he relishes the no doubt ascetic comfort of his moral rectitude, the gangs, the underworld and the dodgy grow their power base on drug money.

  8. So many old reefer madness myths persist with a few modern ones about stronger pot added to the mix …..

    Anyone who smoke ‘Buddha’ or ‘Thai sticks’ or the Hash from the 70’s & 80’s know these were as good as or better than the million and one generic skunk strains around now days.

    Also data coming in from the u.s.a shows that there is a DROP in serious crime when cannabis is legally available ……….. why? …. because people drink less alcohol which is a major driver of serious violent crime.

    Finally when we say ” Drugs & Alcohol” we are repeating a political spin statement which helps manufacture consent for the “war on some drugs”, pot being one of them.

    The scientific or accurate statement is ‘Alcohol & other drugs’ ….

    When we really grow up as a county we might think and talk like intelligent rational adults and then we’ll just talk about “Drugs’, ….. and be under no pretense that booze is not our biggest one.

    • the other fascinating/surprising fact coming in from those places that have decriminalised/regulated/taxed..

      ..is that the biggest uptake of ‘new’ smokers..hasn’t been the kids..

      ..it’s the 40-50-60 yr olds..

      ..many of whom would have smoked when younger..

      ..and thru reasons of career/social-disapproval etc..

      ..haven’t for a long time..

      ..but also many older ones..now that the criminality has been removed..

      ..they are taking to the pot for the first time..

      ..with some gusto..

      ..the next stat i want to see is the…if any..drops in alcohol consumption/sale in those places that have sane pot policies..

      • and of course all of this talk of ‘scary’ stronger pot surprising smokers becomes irrelevant in a decriminalised/regulated/taxed cannabis regime..

        ..as the beauty of a pot shop is the choice of/from clearly defined strains..

        ..so you can ask for a pot suitable for a late-morning smoke..

        ..that will get you ‘high’..will put a skip in yr step/a smile on yr face..

        ..but still leave you able to function in the world..

        ..or you could have insomnia problems..

        ..so you ask for a ‘club’..that you could have an hr before yr ideal sleeptime..

        ..and which sees you snoring soon after that designated bedtime..

        ..and everything in the way of strains/effects inbetween..

        ..do you want body stone..or head stone..

        ..or both..?


  9. You don’t have to outlaw synthetics, just make it illegal to sell them. But the argument you cant make something illegal that is seriously damaging the minds of our kids is not true. The government can make anything it likes illegal and could set up a fast track system with a few scientists and have it done in under a week for each new substance. Then wait for the public out cry ( there won’t be one). We should not kow tow to those who insist their hands are tied. We have no obligation to treat drug dealing cartels fairly, wake the fuck up.

    Comparisons about alcohol and all forms of dope are wrong for a number of reasons.
    1. Alcohol is legal, and available.
    2. Alcohol is misused more frequently than all other drugs simply because of fact 1.
    3. Alcohol is an effective social lubricant when used in moderation, and adds value to social interactions. ( getting stoned and playing computer games is not a fair comparison)
    4. Alcohol can be measured in standard units and ones intake easily monitored, with an obvious dose related effect.
    5. If real dope was legal we would see more use obviously, but also more misuse, ( there are many people who have wrecked their lives from cannabis use just go to detox and ask to hear their stories).
    6. Synthetic dope can cause seizures from very small inhalations.
    7. Synthetic dope has no standard dose, even 1 puff can make you unconscious, ( tell me again why you can buy it).
    8. Synthetic dope is a problem NOW because it is AVAILABLE.

    • “If real dope was legal we would see more use obviously, but also more misuse”

      Is that what you reckon, or do you have some evidence to make that claim?

      “Synthetic dope can cause seizures from very small inhalations…
      Synthetic dope has no standard dose, even 1 puff can make you unconscious”

      Please, we’re trying to have a serious conversation here…

  10. Booze company’s and drinkers don’t like alcohol versus cannabis comparisons because the booze is scientifically a more toxic/ addictive / harmful / crime causing harder drug ….. social lubricating properties or not.

    It is legal, but in a way which stands as a model on how not to legalise /regulate a drug. When do donations and gifts become corruption ?

    P.s synthetic cannabis/dope is not a synthetic form of cannabis. …. Thats like calling Valium synthetic alcohol … its a slur on cannabis nothing more.

  11. Making synthetic cannabis illegal is impossible with the ability to always stay one step ahead of the authorities by changing the chemical structures of the drugs,

    I really do wish people would stop saying that because it’s not true. One simple, general law:

    No product may come on to the market until it has been tested and the necessary regulations are in place.

    There, no one can get past it by altering chemical structures. And shit like this wouldn’t happen either.

  12. Legalizing cannabis will be giving up a tool in their arsenal to sideline,manipulate and criminalize the underclass.

    If people are allowed to be ‘free’ they come up with ideas.

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