How to reach Peak Cannabis in 2016



Are we are nearing “Peak Cannabis”, the tipping point where significant and sustained law reform is not only possible but inevitable?

Consider just some of the amazing breakthroughs we’ve had over the past 12 months, that even just one year ago might have seemed improbable:

So given all this, what do we need to do to reach “Peak Cannabis” and get significant cannabis reforms over the next year or two?

  • Australia will begin growing medical cannabis this year – and NZ needs to follow (or lead!) or we will get left behind. Licenses to join their clinical research trials and breeding programs can already be issued under the current law. Regulations for access to medicinal cannabis – both pharmaceutical and “non pharmaceutical herbal cannabis – can be amended at any Cabinet meeting. They are currently tighter than for any other medicine, but that could change. Patients, caregivers and health professionals need to make their views known – now. Everyone can help by signing the petition.
  • We need continued pressure on our courts to not imprison canna folk, but instead show compassion and clemency. Non-violent cannabis offenders should be freed and their records expunged. Anyone can write to any court or judge expressing their views on any case or sentence (heeding any suppression orders that may be in place). But what might have the greatest effect is writing to, or visiting your MP. It’s not as scary as it sounds, and it really does have a huge effect. People opposed to reform are doing it, but we are not doing it nearly enough.
  • World drug treaties are being reviewed next month. All the signs point to significant reform of the UN drug treaties at UNGASS, held in New York from 19-21 April, which will allow New Zealand and other countries to experiment with alternatives to prohibition. The scheduling of the meeting in itself represents a huge breakthrough. The South American bloc has stared down the Russians, Chinese and other anti-reformers with a threat to leave en masse if the treaties are not changed. Obama has signalled his belief that all countries should decriminalise drugs. Peter Dunne will be there along with officials and, representing our harm reduction sector, Ross Bell and Russell Brown. New Zealand should take a stand and press for reform.
  • More US states will make cannabis legal this year, further accelerating the worldwide shift to regulating, rather than prohibiting, cannabis. At elections in November, up to 11 more states are expected to join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC in legally regulating cannabis sales to adults. Reforms in the USA are undeniably having a huge effect on the rest of the world. Other international steps forward that will bolster law reforms everywhere include Canada legalising cannabis, Ireland decriminalising small amounts of all drugs, and Uruguay continuing to implement their “grow, club or pharmacy” model.
  • Ultimately, we need more people to get actively involved. You can join a myriad of online groups to become better informed and share ideas. We also need real activism in the real world – old fashioned but effective methods like letter writing, visiting your MP, demonstrations, petitions, stunts, marches, and peaceful civil disobedience (like J Day on Sat 7th May). Engage with your elected representatives and local officials. Send them information and follow up. We need to work to broaden coalition of supporting organisations and individuals by finding common points of agreement – not just preach to the choir.

Cannabis law reform has gone mainstream, and continued progress will come from mainstream “ordinary” people and groups – as we have seen this year with medical cannabis. The end of alcohol prohibition came when parents, especially mothers, called to repeal that ban to “protect the children”. Now, we also need parents, especially mothers, who want cannabis law reform to speak up – because it’s the right thing to do.

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    • Nothing could be further from the truth. Changing the flag would not have stopped thousands of kiwis being harassed and even imprisoned for a victimless crime. Changing cannabis laws will. Changing the flag wasted millions of dollars of public money. Cannabis prohibition wastes millions of dollars of public money every year on enforcement, and not only would changing cannabis laws stop that, if the new laws created a regulated, taxed, R18 market, it would bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue *every year* from now on. The only thing here that’s a waste of time is comments like Dave’s.

      • Welcome to the age of volatility where any reform is possible. We haven’t experienced an era like this since the Great Depression

      • Don’t worry Sam, I’m sure your neolibs in National and the coalition will find some way to exploit medicinal, personal use and retail cannabis for profit

        Will they pay GST? Or will it have a new tax attached to help pay for hospital, or even new flags?


  1. Whatever happened to Kelly Van Gaalen – whatever happened there?

    IIRC, the Court of Appeal heard her appeal in October, they reserved their decision and indicated they would be reaching a decision very quickly.

    Do we infer, I wonder, that the conviction itself (quite apart from the sentence) has been quashed and a re-trial ordered? That seems like the only reasonable supposition for the fact there’s basically no mention of her online post-October 2015.

  2. Also, if indeed the conviction has been quashed, then you would probably be better than to republish here suggesting the conviction stands, since that could prejudice any re-trial *shrug*

  3. medical use excluded, do we really need to debate the use of a substance which if used makes you stupid, and potentially gives you lung cancer?

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