Legal pot winners and losers

The government has opted for legalisation of cannabis use rather than decriminalisation in draft legislation for next year’s referendum.

Key points of the proposals are:

    • a minimum purchase age of 20
    • a ban on marketing and advertising cannabis products
    • a requirement to include harm minimisation messaging on cannabis products
    • not allowing recreational cannabis to be consumed in public and only in licenced places
    • limiting the sale of recreational cannabis to physical stores
    • controls on the potency of recreational cannabis being sold
    • a state licencing regime for recreational cannabis controlled by the Government

If the legislation passed, anyone aged 20 years or older could grow up to two cannabis plants. If two people aged 20 years or older are part of the same household, the property can have up to four plants. If you grow more than you’re allowed, you could be fined up to $1000. Cannabis must also be grown out of public sight.

People could hold 14 grams of dried cannabis in a public place – the same amount that could be purchased from a licensed store. . . 

Justice Minister Andrew Little couldn’t tell Mike Hosking how many joints could be made from 14 grams.

. . . “They start at 42, go down to 21 and I have seen one at 15. I am not a user, so I’m just going off advice from officials.” . . .

This is basic information the Minister ought to know.

I’m not a user either but I found an unopened packet of dried thyme weighing 15 grams and was able to measure 14 reasonably heaped teaspoons from it.

That seems to be more than would be safe for anyone to smoke or eat in a day, given there are questions whether any amount is safe, although the purchaser won’t necessarily smoke or eat it all in one day.

The proposal is up for consultation, but whether or not changes are made as a result of that, who would win and who would lose if the referendum gets a majority in favour of legalisation, and, given it’s non-binding, the next government passes it?

Winners:

  • People who use cannabis now, including those who smoke an occasional joint the way others might have an occasional alcoholic drink.
  • People who want to use it recreationally now but don’t want to break the law.
  • Individuals and businesses who grow, process and sell cannabis.
  • The black market – the price and THC level in legal cannabis will be regulated providing a market for those wanting something less expensive and more potent.

Losers:

  • Young people who use it and suffer health and development problems as a result. Whatever the legal age for possession and use, younger people will get it.
  • Those who develop mental illnesses including psychosis as a result of using cannabis. Psychiatric nurse Peter Hurst writes on the damage cannabis does here.
  • The mental health system which will come under more pressure from those suffering from addiction and other ill effects of cannabis use.
  • Employers who have to deal with drug users in the workplace.
  • Workers who have to put up with fellow workers who are under the influence of drugs.
  • Teachers who have to deal with drug users at school (see young people using cannabis above).
  • Police who still have to deal with the black market.
  • Emergency services who have to deal with the consequences of drug-driving.

Would the wins out weight the losses?

I don’t think so.

6 Responses to Legal pot winners and losers

  1. Andrei says:

    You cannot legislate morallity Ele

    Any law which will be ignored by a substantial minority of the population is a bad law

    And this country has spent literally billions of dollars trying to stamp out cannabis use during my adult lifetime – and failed dismally, all the while creating a lucrative criminal industry and distribution network for other far more dangerous drugs.

  2. homepaddock says:

    You are right Andrei about the criminal industry, but the experience in other countries shows that will continue if cannabis is legalised because the legal stuff is more expensive and less potent.

  3. Roj Blake says:

    Would the wins out weight the losses?

    Certainly.

    Young people who use it and suffer health and development problems as a result.

    Does that happen under the current regime? Yes. Will this change under the new regime? Yes. Using an illegal product causes complications in seeking help. Having shame piled on top of a mental health issue worsens it.

    The same goes for your subsequent two points, which are really just a rewriting of the first to inflate your list of negatives.

    Employers who have to deal with drug users in the workplace.

    Does this happen now? Yes. Will legalising or decriminalising cannabis make it worse? No. Irresponsible users of all drugs will always be with us. The vast majority of current cannabis users do not turn up to work stoned. Can you provide a reason why this would change?

    The same goes for your subsequent two points, which are really just a rewriting of the first to inflate your list of negatives.

    Furthermore, the drug that causes most workplace accidents and incidents is the already legal alcohol.

    Police who still have to deal with the black market.

    What black market? Did you assume a change to the legal status of Cannabis will make all other drugs go away? The black market is right here, right now, and the police are coping with it.

    Emergency services who have to deal with the consequences of drug-driving.

    They already do that now, with alcohol being bar far the biggest contributor.

    Get back to me when you can provide reliable figures on the number of road deaths caused by Heads, the number of overdoses leading to death by cannabis consumption, the number of ED workers assaulted by stoners, and you may have a point.

    Ever seen thousands of stoners leave a rock concert and cause violence and mayhem in the city? How about a few hundred pissed Rugby fans? I know which is more prevalent where I live.

    Yes, there is evidence that cannabis is harmful to a small proportion of the population, but how about you delve into the history of its use and the real reasons it suddenly went from a useful and happily used substance to the Demon Drug that led to every imaginable sin. Hint – it wasn’t science, but racism.

    I recommend a close reading of “Chasing the Scream” and reading up on Harry Anslinger.

  4. Roj Blake says:

    Citations needed for your 9:53

  5. Roj Blake says:

    Statistics Canada has urged caution when interpreting its cannabis numbers, since the data are self-submitted.

    In other words, this is not statisical evidence, it is hearsay.

    Kyla Lee, founder of the Canadian Impaired Driving Lawyers Association, has been monitoring the impaired driving caseload and said there hasn’t been a marked increase in cannabis-impaired driving since legalization.

    Thus negating your points above.

    But California’s black market for marijuana continues to flourish as high taxes and a refusal by most cities to allow licensed shops makes it cheaper and easier for people to buy from illicit dealers, he said.

    So the problem is self inflicted and known, therfore NZ could learn from this and avoid the errors.

    The climb back this year is happening “despite these huge levels of taxation and regulatory woes that we think add 77% to the cost of a gram in the legal market versus what it costs on the open market,” Adams said.

    So Elle, not as simplistic as you claimed, but lessons NZ can learn from and avoid the pitfalls.

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