Binding ‘reeferendum’ isn’t

08/05/2019

The government is offering a half-baked proposal for the  ‘reeferendum’ on legalising cannabis:

Justice Minister Andrew Little says:

There will be a clear choice for New Zealanders in a referendum at the 2020 General Election. Cabinet has agreed there will be a simple Yes/No question on the basis of a draft piece of legislation.

“That draft legislation will include:

• A minimum age of 20 to use and purchase recreational cannabis,
• Regulations and commercial supply controls,
• Limited home-growing options,
• A public education programme,
• Stakeholder engagement.

“Officials are now empowered to draft the legislation with stakeholder input, and the Electoral Commission will draft the referendum question to appear on the ballot.

“The voters’ choice will be binding because all of the parties that make up the current Government have committed to abide by the outcome. . . 

This is a half-baked proposal, we’ll be voting on a Bill which could well be changed after the vote and while the Minister might think the referendum will be binding, but it won’t:

I’d be open to decriminalisation with the ability to treat users for addiction providing the funding necessary to enable that was budgeted for.

But I am not in favour of legalisation.

Critics say criminalisation hasn’t worked, but the harm done by alcohol and tobacco prove the dangers of legal drugs and lessons from Canada show that legalisation carries risks:

The Canadian federal study released yesterday found a 27% increase in marijuana use among people aged 15 to 24 over the last year. Additionally, approximately 646,000 Canadians have reported trying marijuana for the first time in the last three months, an amount almost double the 327,000 that admitted to trying the drug for the same time period last year.

“These are disturbing trends, especially when considering the effects on mental health, addiction and public safety,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Other concerning trends include:
• 15% of marijuana users got behind the wheel of a car within two hours of using the drug.
• daily users were more than twice as likely to believe that it was safe for them to operate a vehicle within three hours of ingesting the drug.
• 20% of Canadians who reported driving under the influence of marijuana admitted to also consuming alcohol at the same time.
• about 13%, or half a million, of Canadian workers who are active marijuana users admitted to using the drug either prior to or during work.

This report comes on the heels of another study finding that the black market in Canada is absolutely thriving, with over 79% of marijuana sales in the last quarter of 2018 occurring outside the legal market.

Regulation, testing and taxing of the drug if it’s legal will make it more costly. That will still provide on opportunity for a black market to sell cannabis at a lower price, and also to sell it to people under 20.

“Canada is quickly finding out that so-called regulation of marijuana does nothing to mitigate the harms of the drug. Legalisation simply exacerbates them. Diane Kelsall, editor in chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, called the new law “a national, uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.”.”

“Canada’s new law on legal marijuana demonstrates that cannabis legalisation is high in promise and expectations, but the reality is far lower. Evidence shows that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. In US states that have already legalised the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes, youth marijuana use, and costs that far outweigh tax revenues from marijuana. These states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, sustained marijuana arrest rates, and tobacco company investment in marijuana. Portugal has seen a rise in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco consumption and of every illicit psychoactive substance (affected by the weight of cannabis use in those aged 15-74) in the last five years.”

“Big Marijuana has high hopes for New Zealand, but liberalising marijuana laws is the wrong path to go down if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people.”

Closer to home a community worker in Northland says there’s no simple fix for drug laws:

Community worker Ngahau Davis said while cannabis was often used in a social context without many issues in affluent areas, it played a more dangerous role in the poorer communities he worked with in Northland.

“A lot of whanau I work with where there’s chronic unemployment, really huge social issues from trauma, all sorts of things going down with that person, they use it really heavily on a daily basis just to survive and just to feel good. The difficulty with that type of usage is you’re starting to see a lot of problems around mental health issues.

“People say ‘Well it’s a drug that chills you’ – well I say to people don’t smoke it for a day or so, then this whole other thing starts happening; paranoia, frustration, irritability, and even violence.”

While he was yet to read the government’s Cabinet paper, he wasn’t convinced legalisation was the answer.

“When we talk about the issue of, say, prohibition with alcohol, people said ‘Well they’re going to do it anyway, and you’ve got to do this’. It still hasn’t stopped the pain, it still hasn’t stopped the damage.

“Nobody wants to talk about that because it’s legal and there’s a whole industries where people are getting rich. My caution is that while they’ve done that and it’s legal, it still doesn’t diminish the effect that it has on people in our society and our people, more so because they’re in a situation where dependency is higher because of the social issues that go with regions like mine.” . .

Can we legalise the drug so the affluent can indulge in occasional use without breaking the law without doing considerably more harm to more people in poorer areas?

In related news, health experts want medicinal cannabis to meet the same standards as other medicine:

In a discussion paper published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, it urged for more caution to be taken, following the government recently passing a bill increasing access to medicinal cannabis.

The government now needs to determine the regulations for a Medicinal Cannabis Scheme.

The paper said public surveys show widespread support for increased access to medicinal cannabis, yet GPs and clinicians generally remain more reserved.

“We believe that part of this difference lies in the lack of clear public understanding of the term ‘medicinal cannabis’, and a relatively greater awareness by health professions of what generally constitutes a medicine,” it said. . .

Medicinal cannabis should be treated like any other medicine with its composition and use governed by scientific research not anecdote and public pressure.

 


How low can Harre go?

08/08/2014

Laila Harre’s blindness to the hypocrisy of  having her attempt to return to parliament funded by Kim Dotcom whose actions and principles are the antithesis of just about everything she’s ever stood for confirmed the low view many have of  politics and politicians.

Her attempt to justify the Internet Mana advertisement in which a crowd of young people shout F*** John Key takes politics down several more notches.

“Offence to who?” she says. “Young people have their right to have their voice heard.”

What’s happened to balancing the right to be heard with the responsibility to say something worth hearing in an acceptable manner?

“That will confirm what a lot of New Zealanders think of the guy,” says John Key. “In the end it’s a matter for him how he wants to run Internet Mana’s campaign .” 

Dotcom appears to want to run politics in the gutter and Harre is down there with him.

Earlier Massey University political marketing specialist Claire Robinson said the video cut down Ms Harre just as she was trying to claim the moral high ground.

“Laila Harre was expressing such indignation about John Key’s ‘sugar-daddy’ comment and the need for respect in the political debate, and at the same time you have Kim Dotcom posting a video inciting hate speech, in effect, among a crowd of young people.

“It is sinking to such a low, and completely at odds with what she’s trying to do, exposing yet again the enormous disconnect between Kim Dotcom’s hatred for John Key and the way that she wants to campaign. . .

But Harre was blind to the disconnect:

Ms Harre said she had no problem with the video, adding that it was a spontaneous reaction and Kim Dotcom did not lead the chant.

“The video is a true representation of youth expression. We are on the road to engage with young people over politics. We are not about censoring the way that young people engage.” . . .

It wasn’t a spontaneous chant and it wasn’t a one-off. It happened on at least one other occasion and it was orchestrated by IMP staff:

Is it any wonder that so many are disillusioned by politics and politicians when it’s sunk to this level?

Mindless and personal denigration is a long way from political discourse and it might also be a breach of advertising standards:

Family First NZ has laid an official complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority over the Internet Mana party’s ‘Join the Revolution’ advert on YouTube which includes a crowd chanting “f*** John Key”.

“Internet Mana is dragging political debate to a new low level. We really are in trouble as a country when a political advertisement is deemed appropriate when it simply denigrates another political leader in an offensive fashion,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Political parties should show social responsibility and observe taste and decency – especially as they seek to engage families in the political campaign.”

“New Zealanders want robust and respectful debate of the issues – not personal offensive attacks,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Advertising standards also says that ‘advertisements should not portray people in a manner which is reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule’ and ‘should not contain anything which in the light of generally prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious or widespread offence.’

“The party’s advertisement is not advocacy. It is personal denigration, and Internet Mana needs to find a better advertising agency.”

It needs to find some better principles and standards too.


There’s charity and there’s lobbying

08/05/2013

Family First is unhappy it has lost its charitable status which means donations to it won’t be tax deductible.

The Charities Registration Board has ruled that Family First’s main purpose is political, rather than charitable, and that it will lose its charitable status unless it appeals to the High Court by May 27.

Family First director Bob McCoskrie said the organisation was being penalised for its leading role in the campaign against legalising gay marriage, which was passed by Parliament on April 17. . . .

I don’t think that’s the case. Greenpeace lost its charitable status for the same reason – its primary focus is political.

But I do think there is a question over why some groups qualify and some don’t:

Deemed to be charitable
Amnesty International
Child Poverty Action Group
National Council of Women
Society for Promotion of Community Standards

Deemed to be political
Family First
NZ Council for Civil Liberties
Save Our Arts Centre Society (Christchurch)
Sensible Sentencing Trust

There’s little difference in what the public see of the Child Poverty Action Group and Family First.

Both appear to put most if not all of their efforts into lobbying and advocacy which is by its nature is political.

Political parties can’t get charitable status and nor should political lobby groups.

They will still be free to lobby on behalf of their supporters but they’ll be doing it without support from the public purse by way of tax deductions on donations.


Naked kids banned from pool

12/09/2008

Oh dear.

The “sad reality” of high-profile paedophilia cases means it is no longer appropriate to allow children to change into swimwear beside public swimming pools, says Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie.

He was commenting after a Christchurch school was asked to refrain from its practice of letting children change by the pool in the city’s Jellie Park Aquatic Centre instead of in the changing rooms, following a complaint from a pool user.

St Bernadette’s School principal Maureen Moore said it chose not to use the busy changing rooms so teachers and parents could keep a better eye on the children.

It was purely for safety, and the school did not set out to offend anyone, she told the New Zealand Herald.

She said the school would now work something else out Mr McCoskrie said it was a sad reality of high-profile cases of child pornography and paedophilia that parents now needed to “err on the side of modesty”.

Is this an indictment on society or just a very sorry reflection of modern life?


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