Is Trevor Mallard really the best person to lead drug reform?

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Organised crime have won and synthetic cannabis is to be banned. I’ve pointed out the eye rolling nonsense of this yesterday, but my concern now is Trevor Mallard and his current quest for relevancy.

I like Trev, I do, but his woeful ignorance on drug reform leaves much to be desired. I know I shouldn’t have, but amongst the backslapping on twitter last night between John Campbell and Trevor Mallard once the u-turn had been announced, I just had to add my 2 cents. The response by Trev was deeply concerning because of the utter lack of knowledge he exposed.

Here’s John…

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 7.35.36 pm

…now to his credit, John at least acknowledges the hypocrisy of our cannabis laws and notes the need to change, but Trev decides to do what Trev does…

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…my penchant for helping set up different political parties to help generate the Parliamentary majority necessary to overthrow the Government to one side, my beef with this banning of synthetic cannabis is how many NZers we intend to now criminalise while organised crime make a mint.  To be honest I was going to leave it at that, having made my point that Private Prisons and gangs will only end up benefiting from this, but then Trev had to go and say this…

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…not only is Trev 1000% wrong with his insinuation that no one is imprisoned for dope use, the sanctimonious clown tags it ‘hysterical again’.  The reality, as I point out in my next tweet to Trev, is that NZ has one of the worst imprisonment rates for personal use…

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…the link is through to a damning 2013 story on how heavy handed our response to cannabis is. Read it and tell me how wrong Trev is with his claim that NZers aren’t going to prison for cannabis. The headline of the article is ‘Petty drug users fill jails‘…

Hundreds of people are locked up for petty drug offences every year – many for crimes our top legal body says should not exist.

Justice Ministry figures show a significant amount of court time is taken up by minor drug cases, with nearly as many people imprisoned for possessing a small quantity of cannabis as for dealing.

Among these offenders are hundreds imprisoned for possessing a pipe or a needle, an offence the Law Commission recommended legalising last year.

The figures also show fewer than one in three minor drug offenders is offered diversion, allowing them to avoid a criminal record.

The New Zealand Drug Foundation said the figures were alarming and showed the court-focused treatment of minor offenders was not working.

But Justice Minister Judith Collins said all drug offending – no matter how minor – should be dealt with through the criminal justice system.

In the past six years, possession of small amounts of cannabis or smoking utensils, such as a pipe, made up about half of all drug charges laid by police.

While most offenders received a fine or community work, more than 2800 were imprisoned on minor drug offences.

These included possession of needles, pipes, and small amounts of cannabis or methamphetamine.

Imprisonment for petty offences almost equals the number locked up for more serious crimes.

…and what is Trev’s response to the fact that between 2007-2013 that 890 NZers have been imprisoned for possession of cannabis and a bewildering 737 NZers have been imprisoned for possession of a bloody cannabis pipe? Would one expect Trev perhaps to admit he got it spectacularly wrong?

Oh no.

His response was…

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 7.56.38 pm

…firstly, what a bullshit shallow response. Secondly, my mother will laugh her arse off at me being referred to as ‘middle class’, and thirdly – I have read the bloody article Trev, it says…

PUNISHING DRUG USE
How New Zealand has treated minor drug offenders over the past six years:
CANNABIS POSSESSION

Charges: 17,931
Convicted: 13,131
Imprisoned: 890

Maximum penalty: 3 months in prison and/or a $500 fine

CANNABIS UTENSIL
(SUCH AS A PIPE)

Charges: 11,057
Convicted: 7,563
Imprisoned: 737

…Let’s just consider these facts for a second shall we? Between 2007-2013 we have imprisoned 1627 NZers and convicted 20, 694 for possession of cannabis and bongs! And who faces this rough justice most? Why Maori of course…

Drugs-Prosecution-Infographic1

…our cannabis laws are racist and we are throwing people in prison for bloody bongs. Apparently that’s hysterical according to Trev.

It’s not that Trev fired up and made a dick of himself on social media, I’ve been guilty of that more times than I care to remember, but it’s the phenomenal ignorance of a politician who is leading the charge for the war on drugs to pretend that NZers don’t get locked up for possession of cannabis.

What we need is medical science to make the decisions, not knee jerk moral crusades. Synthetic cannabis is an unintended joke created by cannabis prohibition. You want to eliminate synthetic cannabis, legalise real cannabis. Use the PSA model to heavily regulate the industry and retailers. The PSA managed to cut distribution from 6000 venders down to less than 150 – that’s the model we should be looking at for cannabis, alcohol AND tobacco.

I sympathise for those hurt by synthetic cannabis, but when you consider the thousands maimed, killed and damaged by booze every year, it’s difficult to understand where the hell our politicians seem to get their moral high horse from.

We need political leadership on cannabis reform, all that’s happened by banning synthetic cannabis is organised crime profits have jumped.  I hope the next Government can be genuine about following  science instead of knee jerks, and they seriously look at decriminalising cannabis so that the 1600 NZers imprisoned and 20 000 convicted over the last 6 years leading up to 2013 won’t be repeated.

Being lectured on legal highs by a full blown alcoholic culture would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. Organized crime are the winners here.

This is not our finest hour as thinking adults.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Well I think a lot of people would vote for Mana/IP if they promised to legalise dope.
    NZ’s drug laws are an attempt to turn the working class into a criminal class to justify a police state.

    • I’m confident that the same forward-looking cohort who support IP would also support drug law reform, and if the Mana crew can’t grasp that prohibition, cops, courts, and imprisonment causes more damage to young Maori than cannabis use, there’s something wrong. If the Mana-IP alliance does come together, but they don’t have the wisdom and the compassion to take a principled stand against prohibition, I will be voting Cannabis Party.

      • “if the Mana crew can’t grasp that prohibition, cops, courts, and imprisonment causes more damage to young Maori than cannabis use, there’s something wrong”

        Danyl, that’s a slap in the face, considering you’re trying to talk MANA into letting the IP sneak in on their coat-tails.
        Firstly the ‘MANA crew’ are well aware of what is causing the most damage to young Maori – that’s the economy and institutional racism (both of which are related to our drug laws).
        Secondly, there is a common belief throughout MANA members that prohibition has failed – however MANA are still sorting out what is the best policy to put forward. There is an acknowledgement that a simplistic anti-prohibition stance that comes across like deranged hippies is problematic and actually ends up sustaining prohibition (like the Cannabis Party do).
        Thirdly, perhaps the IP could give the silly home videos a rest and actually come up with some policies if they want to be taken seriously – in their 10 bullet points I don’t remember anything about drugs.
        So, before you start lecturing the ‘MANA crew’ about what is damaging to young Maori, maybe you should have a word to your mate who donated $50,000 to John Banks and tell him to come up with another bullet point. Or does KDC have to get busted with a tinny before he cares?
        We really need to stop talking about MANA and the IP as if they are related. One is a political party and the other is a website with youtube videos.

        And btw, the only thing that Trevor should be leading is a one way train out of Wellington

  2. Regardless of Trevor Mallard’s “woeful ignorance” about anything, I would love to see him in a role he is most unlikely to fill – the Speaker of the House. Ah, the sport and the sight of the struggle with the challenge.

    If it were to happen he would unfortunately not be in the position of telling John Key to answer the bloody questions as Mr Key would be in the Opposition. Only Key wouldn’t be in the opposition because he’d be at the IMF or some such.

    But things would be interesting with Mallard up there in the chair.

  3. With the move to prohibit synthetic cannabis, and the highly publicised ills of the drug, possibly expect hysterical tough on cannabis crap bundled in with more tough on crime crap. Never mind synthetic and natural cannabis are two very different substances.

    Discrimination in drug offenses is a reality, how else can anyone explain the discrepancy in a case I’m aware of where a Māori person convicted for growing one plant faced higher penalties than a non-Māori person caught around the same time growing many plants? The person growing for personal use faces greater penalties than the other growing for sale. Utterly illogical.

    Have to bear in mind the level of dead-end conservatism in this country. It’s highly unlikely there’ll ever be any drug reform in this indifferent environment devoid of understanding. Drug use is likely viewed as an impediment to a good work ethic, along with further delusions of a “rock-star economy” awash with generous jobs.

    Even though the harm caused by synthetic cannabis was widely publicised, whether through use or abuse, many continued to use it, perhaps the reasons why many use drugs should be examined. I suspect many answers would be highly inconvenient.

  4. Now why would Martyn trust ‘medical science’ on this? They have hungry pockets and agile minds for the invention of ‘valid reasons’ the same as most folk.

    Harsh? Thalidomide was and is not a solitary instance of the rush to fame and profits by ‘science’.

    And impartiality is often absent.

    Fact: most people in NZ don’t use cannabis. We’re all fussed up about a minority. And even smaller numbers are fired up to gain their own Darwin Award. They’ll win, somehow. You can’t legislate against stupid, and succeed.

    • Thalidomide was and is not a solitary instance of the rush to fame and profits by ‘science’.

      (eye roll)

      Science (without the scare quotes) identified the thalidomide problem and scientific procedures have since been strengthened and used to prevent the real culprits in that case – the merchants – from making similar errors again. Scientific method has no interest in any rush to profit, that is the realm of business.

      I suspect Andrea has not thought about nor appreciated the extent to which science (without scare quotes) has protected and advanced the human condition.

    • “most people in NZ don’t use cannabis”

      True, but we all pay for the effects of failed policy. We pay for it economically, and we pay for it in other ways too. The real cost is in its damage to us as a society.

  5. The only way I’m going to be convinced that synthetic cannabis is being tested properly and MPs are earning their huge salaries, is when I turn on Parliament tv and see them all light up after that dedication the speaker makes at the start, in the name of Jesus. (yes they do)

  6. Nobody seems willing to make the connection between jail time for minor drug offences and the neoliberal desire to privatise the prison “industry.” If you think that’s being overly cynical … check out the trends in our beloved neoliberal trendsetters in the USA, where minor drug offenders make up approximately 50% of the federal prison population. The “war on drugs” has a commercial motivation as much as a social/health one … likely moreso. When the private commercial predation is directed at the politically voiceless, muddying the waters in the Mallard style has a more sinister overtone.

    • Yes, well said Murray Smith, single issue advocates who just want a law change are problematic. We can’t just legalise weed and then continue with out neoliberal version of justice and education, then expect everything to turn out ok.

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