Reefer Madness follows criticism of cannabis referendum bill


What is driving two academics to criticise the Government’s information campaign for the cannabis referendum?

In a review published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, two members of Auckland University’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences say the Ministry of Justice has made “inflated and unrealistic” claims in their public information campaign.

One of them, Prof Benedikt Fischer, was a member of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor’s cannabis expert panel which recently published a summary of information about the effects of voting Yes or No in the referendum.

It’s a really useful, balanced, summary that I thoroughly recommend everyone read and share. They even produced a video:

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The cannabis panel’s report says it “did not reach uncontested conclusions or agree on every single point. But we tried to reach a consensus on as many aspects as possible.”

That consensus has been blown open, with Fischer now saying the “political promises” made in the information campaign – to to eliminate the illegal supply of cannabis, restrict young people’s access to it and limit public visibility – were “unlikely to be achievable as stated”.

That has created an opening for the Nope campaign to falsely claim a “win”.

Aaron Ironside, the former Radio Hauraki jock and recovering drug addict who offers counselling services and is now spokesperson for the Say Nope To Dope campaign, called the review a “scathing assessment” that backs his position.

The Nope brigade is a coalition of busy bodies, wowsers and moralists that includes Family First and Bob McCroskie, a bunch of conservative small town religious leaders, owners of drug testing companies who stand to lose much of their income, and the US anti-cannabis lobby group SAM, which has lost most cannabis reform campaigns in US states.

Ironside thundered that “The Government tries to argue through their pamphlet that ‘the Bill’s purpose is to reduce harm to people and communities’, but that is purely the view of those lobbying for change.”

This is all a bit rich coming from those moralising propagandists. They are backed by American anti-cannabis lobbyists who are well versed in spreading fear, misinformation, and outright lies.

The Nopers lie when they claim cannabis use among teens will inevitably go up. In Canada underage use fell by almost half in just one year following legalisation. That is a roaring success.

They mislead when they say legal products would be stronger. In fact, potency will be limited.

They twist the facts when they say gangs will just do something even worse. In fact, police would have much more time to go after them.

They distort the truth when they claim any reform would inevitably create a “Big Cannabis” industry. In fact, there would be limits on the market size, a ban on all advertising and promotion, and licensing rules that favour small social enterprises and non-profits.

They push propaganda when they say “Legal marijuana has a kid’s menu“. In fact, legal cannabis would be restricted to adults over 20, unlike the current law which allows unfettered access, and products such as gummy bears won’t be allowed here.

They lie to your face when they call the current approach a “Smart Approach to Marijuana”. We’ve all heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

They expect us to believe them when they say keeping the current failed policy is “smart”.

The Nopers are pushing a huge pile of hogwash. So what is it that now has them all riled up?

Well, the information sent to voters includes the “statement of purpose” contained within the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.

This is the piece of legislation we are voting on in the referendum. It will allow adults over 20 to legally use, possess, purchase or grow small amounts of cannabis for themselves. It won’t create a Big Cannabis. Driving and workplace safety will continue to be regulated separately. It won’t be a free for all.

It is the opposite of the claims made by the Nopers.

The statement of purpose is that the Bill aims to “reduce the harms associated with cannabis use by individuals, families, whanau and communities in New Zealand”.

Yes, that is what has offended Aaron Ironside and his Nopers. Reducing harm. Making New Zealand a better place. Putting health and education first.

These are offensive concepts to the wreckers and haters who want continued prohibition.

After decades of “Reefer Madness” hysteria promulgated by the Nopers and their friends, it should be obvious their word cannot be trusted.

Chris Fowlie is the CEO of Zeacann Limited, a cannabis science company; co-founder of the New Zealand Medical Cannabis Council; president of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws NZ Inc; developer of the CHOISE model for cannabis social equity; co-founder of The Hempstore Aotearoa; resident expert for Marijuana Media on 95bFM; cannabis blogger for The Daily Blog, and court-recognised independent expert witness for cannabis. The opinions expressed here are his own.



  1. So the nopers cannot be trusted but you and your message is. Is your message not slanted by your involvement in freeing up access to this drug.
    If you are not blind it is obvious gangs will target the under 20 market and those that are living in poverty so will be keen to get their fix at the cut prices that they will offer.

    • Well,if your justice based prohibition is so successful how do you counter [even in this partial prohibition of intolerance], where the sentence for supply of cannabis to any teen is four years jail. Is that not prohibitory enough. Or would it work better if the sentence was doubled, tripled even.

      Or should we predict, as I have, the safest source of cannabis, if your over eighteen and under twenty, is from an experienced sixteen year old.

      At least that strategy will keep the prison muster down.

    • Rubbish, those living in poverty will be free to grow their own, and police will be free to spend the money chasing the hard and dangerous drugs.

  2. How dare a couple of university types publish a rigorous evidence-based critique of the proposed legalization of cannabis! The cheek of it!

    • What’s questionable is their change of mind which suggests their opinion is variable and not rigorous.

      As a retired academic, I support Fowlie’s comments

  3. Currently Family First and Aaron Ironside are traveling around NZ giving talks in every backwater town and city throughout NZ, it seems all the venues are religious based.

    • I consider myself the wacko resident christian religo on this blog. Not all christian people are stitched up neo con conservatives, I spent many years among the house truckie alternative life styler’s.

      They often took me in and cooked a meal and we all shared. They were good folk. And despite my christian beliefs we formed strong bonds at the time. And no my name is not Rasputin. I enjoyed my red wine, and they enjoyed the other. I was never prejudiced against them. I saw them as fellow human beings, – often more moral in lifestyle than so many in greater society.

      God bless them.

      He loves them.

      Who was I to judge?

    • Yeah it’s like Trumps criticism of Biden. Trump claims Biden is against God and also guns, like the two go together?
      Can we have a debate on religion and how it’s a money making and violent industry ?.

    • That’s probably not a huge surprise given that Aaron Ironside is a pastor at an evangelical church and has a gig at Radio Rhema.

  4. If your gonna do this thing, it needs to be heavily regulated by govt. I for one don’t particularly agree with yet another mind alliterating chemical let loose in society but am in favor of a change in law regarding people having sentences that include the stigma attached. I would suggest that de- legalizing it would relieve a huge amount of pressure on our legal system,…

    It would make the booze industry squeal but being subject to the same legal scrutiny and taxation would help to dampen the efforts of the black market. However all in all?… it seems similar to the liberalization of the 19th century… are we going backwards instead of forwards?

    Well, that all depends on ones bias, current medical opinion, and potential social effects, which we already have, but legalizing it may embolden a more irresponsible element ,…. These all have to be taken into consideration.

    We already have booze- which causes massive social consequences,…adding another may or may not add to the stress on our rehabilitation services… all of these need to be looked at and costed against liberalization. It would be nice to consider pot smokers as responsible, however, the carnage caused by alcohol and then juxtaposed against the combined effects of both upon society would need to be taken into consideration.

    • Agree 100 per cent.
      Not all pot smokers are responsible just as not all tenants are perfect but the left seem to have this rose tinted view and past laws accordingly.

      • I really consider this an issue to be grappled with by both the left and the right…it is a serious issue that needs to be equally taken serious by both sides, how do we police it for society’s greater good, how do we cope with the aftermath of the combined effects of alcohol and pot, and how do we finance the rehab .

        I’m sure it can be done. We are not alone, as Holland and Scandinavia have proven and latterly, many states of the USA.

        I am not adverse to it.

        But I will still prefer my red wine, thank you very much 🙂

      • So do those tinted glasses include “not all landlords are perfect” or do those on the right neglect that on purpose? The very good new laws will sort them out.

    • I would suggest that de- legalizing it would relieve a huge amount of pressure on our legal system,…

      I assume you mean decriminalising it but all that would do is leave it the control of the gangs with all of the same problems.

      Legalising it removes it from the control of the gangs and allows some control on who has access to it.

  5. Mhmmm…. interesting how political bias takes precedence even over this issue… is it even worth posting then? Better things to do than waste my time here.

  6. Surprise, surprise – Christians lying again.

    Really, we shouldn’t be surprised by this. They lie all the time.

    • True, because they are the ones that CALL themselves Christians. They take the name in vain. A true follower of Christ is known only by their own name as well as by their actions, as they base their lives on the principle of unconditional love, and they can feel quite free to have a glass of wine or a joint.
      The ones parading around god-bothering everyone are indeed pathological liars and slaves of their own ego and have no understanding of the spirit of Jesus Christ-Yushua. Interesting how so many of them worship mammon and glorify the likes of Donald Trump.

    • Jesus Christ himself warned us about these ego-based religions folk who god-bother others and take his name in vain. True followers of Christ are only known by their own name and their actions, which are based on unconditional love (for all of creation).

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