This week we ponder what a National-led government would be like for cannabis, the ‘dots guy’ 13 years on, drug-sniffing dogs are wrong more times than right, and more on Marijuana Media with Chris Fowlie from NORML and Jonny from bFM Drive – thanks to The Hempstore!
What would a National-ACT-NZ First government do for cannabis? What would the left do?
National leader Christopher Luxon says he is “happy with the current settings”. So broadly speaking we could expect things to stay much the same. But ominously, National says it will “change the law to allow oral fluid drug tests to be used to screen drivers’ at the roadside.”
This is already the law, but the law also requires the oral fluid testing devices to show impairment – which seems fair enough. But National will remove that evidential base, so the tests can simply show exposure to cannabis, which can linger for days or weeks after use depending on the testing method.
As a result, expect to see drivers falsely accused of being impaired and erroneously convicted of drugged driving. National is also positioning itself as “tough on crime” and would most likely be in coalition with ACT and NZ First. They all want more police and a generally more punitive approach to law and order.
ACT has a stated goal of sending more people to prison. However, according to NORML’s Toke The Vote cannabis-based voting guide, the party has pointed out “ACT supported having a referendum on cannabis law reform. Most ACT MPs voted yes. We are sceptical about prohibition in general and don’t believe it has been a successful policy on drugs.” They also supported the substance testing bill.
But ACT’s drug policy may also support the domestic meth industry by legalising pseudoephedrine so that local cooks can once again compete with transnational smugglers (See: BREAKING BAD ACT wants domestic meth production to soar – their most controversial policy to date!). ACT would also take a tougher approach to addicts who cannot work.
NZ First only says that social issues should be decided by referendums. No mention of drugs in their 2023 policies.
So, what would their cabinet look like? Mark Mitchell is picked to likely be Minister of both Justice and Police. Shane Reti would get Health possibly with ACT’s Booke van Velden as Associate. ACT’s Nicole McKee could get Corrections. Matt Doocey gets mental health. Simeon Brown the drug testing overlord as Minister of Transport. But the unknown factor is what portfolios NZ First would get. I can’t even work out who their spokespeople are.
Labour has a track record: they made medicinal cannabis legal, kick-started local production and licensed cultivation, licensed substance checking services, and brought in police discretion leading to a huge reduction in arrests (although the remaining arrests continue to be biased against Māori).
Realistically, any further progress will probably require a Labour-led Government.
During the second TV1 leader’s debate, Chris Hipkins said he voted Yes and was open to a drug law review, and said he would like issues of drugs and decriminalisation to be approached on a “bipartisan basis”.
I think this is an issue Labour would be happy to be led on, but probably only if the Greens and Te Pati Maori make them do it.
The Green Party is pushing for legalisation. The Greens’ 2023 drug law reform policy says:
Repeal and replace the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 with an evidence-based approach, which reduces harm and treats drug use as a health issue.
Regulate the personal use of cannabis to minimise the risk of harm to users, their whānau, and communities. This will include tight restrictions on advertising and the location of retail outlets.
Improve the framework for medicinal cannabis and create a new framework for trials of therapeutic uses of other controlled substances such as psychedelics.
Te Pati Māori’s justice policy includes reforming drug laws to treat drug use as a health issue, not a criminal one, and wiping criminal records for use and possession.They would overhaul the Misuse of Drugs Act, amend the Clean Slate Act to apply to custodial sentences, and require police to wear body cameras.
Chlӧe needs cannabis
It’s looking very close in Auckland Central. Parliament’s face of cannabis law reform, Chlӧe Swarbrick, is fighting to retain the seat. At Newsroom, Mark Jennings writes “Chlӧe can’t count on cannabis this time”, highlighting the increased turnout the seat received last election due to the cannabis referendum.
Lara Greaves, associate professor in political science at Victoria University of Wellington, thinks the cannabis referendum motivated young people to get out and vote.
“The turnout was so high. In the 20 to 24 group, it was 88 percent. That was higher than the 60 to 64-year-olds which are usually the biggest voters. The Greens did something special in this electorate and I think the cannabis referendum really helped Chlöe. The question is can they do it again?”
Swarbrick’s own unique campaign slogan in 2020 was ‘Three ticks green’. Her campaign manager then and now, Leroy Beckett, tends to agree with Greaves’ analysis.
“You have to give young people something to vote for,” he says.
A recent Taxpayer’s Union poll found the Green Party incumbent on 26% support, with National’s Mahesh Muralidhar on 24%, and Labour’s Oscar Sims on 12%.
If you want to see Chloe retain the seat – actually, no matter who you support – please get out and vote. You could make the difference.
Legalise Cannabis candidate on Marae
Maki Herbert was on TV1’s Marae last Sunday with the candidates for Te Tai Tokerau, showing cannabis is the answer to every question. Labour’s Kelvin Davis said the next government should be “the parties sitting at this couch” –which including the ALCP. I’ll take that as new policy from Labour: inviting Legalise Cannabis to form the next government with them. More cannabis-based election coverage:
- Te Ao News: Davis’ election to win or lose; younger voters key
- Newshub Nation: Simon Shepherd talks to Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis’ Michael Appleby
- Legalise Cannabis: Wellington Central is Wide Open, and We Have an Equal Chance
- NORML: Toke The Vote 2023 cannabis-based voting guide
Jamaica: 60 students hospitalised after eating unlicensed cannabis candy
Showing the benefits of proper legalisation, 1News reports the ‘Sour Belts’ candy contained 1000mg of delta-8 THC (around 50 doses). Jamaica decriminalised in 2017 but hasn’t yet set up proper licensed supply. Delta-8 is made from CBD extracted from hemp which is then sold by unlicensed suppliers with few controls on packaging or age limits.
NSW makes drugs a health issue, not a crime
Also on 1News, the move brings the state in line with others. Compared to NZ with police discretion – which is left to the whim of individual officers – Aussie states have codified limits such as up to 30g cannabis.
I experienced this myself in Sydney when dogs indicated me at the train station. After a thorough shake down by cops toting guns, tasers and electronic scales, I got a warning for my super-stinky half O and was let go.
Drug sniffing dogs are usually wrong
NORML reports drug sniffing dogs provide false alerts approximately seventy-five percent of the time, according to an analysis of ten years of data recently provided to members of the Australian Parliament.
The analysis reviewed over 94,000 searches in Australia and found accuracy ranged from 21 to 32 per cent. Flipping a coin would be more accurate.
Bomb scare guy reflects on ‘dots’ video, 13 years on
Newshub reported how Guy Williams, on New Zealand Today this week, caught up with the man who became infamous after featuring in a 3 News video claiming he was “sitting at home having some dots” when he needed to be evacuated during a bomb scare. Apirana Poki says he is “proud” of how the video became a viral hit.
Guy Williams confesses it was the first time he had heard the term – and same here, bro. I think Apirana did a public service introducing the term to the mainstream public and agree he should be proud.
All daks, All Blacks
- Toke The Vote vote by 7pm this Saturday – after reading NORML’s Toke The Vote guide
- Substance Testing at The Hempstore First Thursday of every month thanks to the NZ Drug Foundation, with the next on Thurs 2nd November, or find a clinic here.
- Auckland J DaySaturday 2nd December in Albert Park (details here).
Marijuana Media airs every Thursday at 4:20pm on 95bFM, with your hosts bFM Drive’s Jonny and Chris Fowlie from The Hempstore. Stream or download the pot-cast for this show here or hundreds of previous Marijuana Media shows at 95bFM.com (or via iTunes / RSS feed). Thanks to The Hemp Store!