The New Zealand Government Has Been Separating Children From Their Cannabis-Growing Parents for Decades

This is no worse than what our own Government is doing to us

Today’s mass media assault on consciousness involved emotional images from America of Mexican children in cages. The ensuing outrage was based around the fact that when a Mexican family is apprehended crossing the American border illegally, the children are temporarily separated from their parents. Although this is regrettable, what the media is ignoring is that the New Zealand Government has been doing the same thing to its own citizens for decades.

For one thing, it’s standard practice for the New Zealand Government to separate children from their parents if those parents are going into custody for breaking the law. In this regard, the New Zealand Government’s normal actions are no better than what the American Government is doing. Even worse than this is the fact that many of those parents are going to jail for offences that don’t harm anyone, unlike (arguably) illegal immigration.

The fact that cannabis is a medicine is a fact near enough to universally acknowledged by the young people of the world, even if Baby Boomer politicians have been slow to understand it. However, cultivation of it remains a crime punishable by up to seven years imprisonment in New Zealand, despite that the plant has a wide range of medicinal effects and is used all over the country to alleviate needless suffering.

Because cannabis is so good for alleviating suffering – taking away pain, nausea, insomnia among other maladies – people continue to grow it, despite the law. But because of the law, a significant number of these people end up being apprehended by Police and sentenced to prison.

Many of the medicinal cannabis growers who have been put in prison over the past 40 years have had children. Those children were forcibly separated from their parents by the New Zealand Government for the sake of enforcing a law that should never have been a law.

So all the perfectly natural dismay that Kiwis have been induced to feel at what the Mexican children at the American border are forced to endure – a traumatic forced separation from their parents as a consequence of an arbitrary law enforced by armed men – could just as well arise as a result of thinking about what Kiwi children have to go through as a result of cannabis prohibition.

In fact, our own children have it worse, because they will often not get to see their parents again for a long time.

So if people in New Zealand are going to get upset because of an outrage that the global corporate media manufactured in order to target a conservative American President, let’s get equally upset about similar and equally evil actions in New Zealand.

Every time a New Zealander gets put in prison for a cannabis offence that has harmed no-one, leaving a child on the outside who is now missing a parent, we ought to react with the same outrage towards our own Government as we had today for the Trump Administration. If we’re going to expend energy on outrage let’s at least direct it somewhere where it can do some good.

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Can North Korea Teach the West How to Have A Humane Cannabis Policy?

Our media has been giving us the Two Minute Hate about North Korea for over two decades. Anyone who has read 1984 knows that most of the reason for this is to distract from the crimes of our own politicians and industrial leaders. One of these crimes is the War on Cannabis: Western Governments could learn from the North Koreans how to have a humane, honest and fair cannabis policy.

For the past 40-50 years, Western Governments have conducted a War on Drugs against their own people, without the consent of those people. Trillions have been spent during these decades to persecute tens of millions of Western citizens, many of whom had not caused any harm to anyone. This mass human rights abuse – because that’s what it is – continues to this day, despite small wins for the people in some areas.

This War on Drugs has been justified with a rhetoric so clumsy and corrupt that even a 1930s-era propagandist would be embarrassed by the lack of subtlety. From the infamous “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men” to “Cannabis use causes psychosis” to today’s horseshit stories about how buying cannabis is supporting Mexican narcoterrorism, no more hamfisted effort has ever been made to sell anything.

For roughly half a century, Western families have been ripped apart from having one of their family members sent to prison for a cannabis offence. Tens of millions have been forced into a traumatic encounter with the Police and justice or prison systems, treated as criminals when most were mentally ill and needed help. In America in 2016, there were 574,641 people charged with the crime of simple cannabis possession.

One would expect then, that the punishment for cultivating cannabis in a place as fundamentally evil as North Korea would be horrifically draconian and senseless. If it’s up to seven years imprisonment in New Zealand it must surely be life in prison or even execution there.

To the contrary – far from scheduling cannabis as belonging to the most dangerous category of addictive drugs with no medicinal value as America does, North Korea doesn’t even consider cannabis a drug. Not only are people free to cultivate it without sanction, but it grows freely by the roadside in many places, being a weed and not being subject to eradication programs. North Koreans are free to harvest and smoke it every single day – and they do.

Many would personally be happy to trade all the supposed Western freedoms to drink booze, watch television and chase loose women for the freedom to smoke cannabis, have quality conversations with intelligent people and at the end of the night still be capable of maintaining an erection. So one has to ask: who’s actually better off?

The thawing of relations between the West and North Korea might have implications for cannabis policy in the West. Those Westerners who are still labouring under primitive superstitions such as “cannabis causes brain damage and therefore people should go to prison for it” might learn something from the more enlightened approach taken by the North Korean Government.

Perhaps North Korea could send advisors to the West to educate our politicians about how large industries conspired to make cannabis illegal for the sake of wiping out a competitor, and that keeping it prohibited is actually an immoral thing to do. These North Koreans could also be tasked with going through our Police and justice system employees to root out the sadists who believed that imprisoning someone was ever a fair or reasonable response to drug possession, because they are morally defective and cannot be trusted to serve the public.

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Why New Zealand is Now Behind Zimbabwe On Cannabis Law Reform

For all the gloating about how incredibly progressive New Zealand is on issues relating to race and sexual orientation, we Kiwis sometimes fail to notice that we are lagging behind the rest of the world on many other human rights issues. Incredibly, New Zealand is more backwards than Zimbabwe now when it comes to cannabis law reform. This essay examines why.

You read correctly: New Zealand is now behind Zimbabwe on cannabis law reform. The despotic Southern African state announced recently that both individuals and companies can apply to the Minister of Health for a licence to grow medicinal cannabis. You don’t have to be dying, as is the criteria in New Zealand.

So how did our human rights decay to the point where Zimbabwe is beating us on major human rights issues like medicinal cannabis law reform?

Crucial to understanding this is understanding that the National Party has always been the pisshead’s friend. When drinkers wanted pub hours extended for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the National Party was eager to help. But when Kiwi medicinal cannabis users petitioned them for nine years to allow them equal rights to people in California, they were utterly unmoving, despite the evidence in the research journals and from the examples set overseas.

When the Electoral Commission revealed the list of each party’s donations last month, it became clear why New Zealand is now more backwards than Zimbabwe when it comes to cannabis law reform. Simply put, the National Party has whored itself out to the same alcohol and pharmaceutical interests that have opposed cannabis medicine from the beginning.

In 2017, the National Party got $41,945 in donations from Stoneyridge Vineyard, $25,438 from Gibbston Valley Winery, $16,700 from Spirits NZ and $42,000 from Graeme Douglas of Douglas Pharmaceuticals, whose morphine product is competing with medicinal cannabis for the billion-dollar analgesic market. This totals $126,083 in donations from industries that are implacably opposed to cannabis law reform.

The National Party spent around $2,500,000 on their 2017 General Election campaign, which means that these donations are reasonably small in the overall scheme of things, amounting to only c. 5% of the total spending. But this has to be contrasted with the fact that the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, the only party seriously promoting the will of the 80% of Kiwis who want a change to the cannabis laws, spent less than $1,700.

In other words, anti-cannabis forces spent over 70 times as much on bribing National Party MPs as pro-cannabis forces spent in total during the 2017 General Election. Little wonder, then, that National Party MPs unanimously voted against Chloe Swarbrick’s bill that would have allowed sick Kiwis to grow their own medicinal cannabis at home without fear of prosecution.

This all sounds very cynical but unfortunately, this is how the game is played in politics, which belongs ultimately to the paradigm of silver. Our politicians are literally whores – this is a truth universally acknowledged by anyone who has had cause to observe the politically ambitious at close range for any length of time. They will say whatever someone wants to be said for money, so their tongues are for hire as much as those of any streetwalker.

Despite all that, this situation may not last. The experience of American states that have liberalised their cannabis laws (beginning with medicinal cannabis in California in 1996), suggests that money talks both ways.

East Coast medicinal cannabis operation Hikurangi Enterprises recently raised $2,000,000 in their share offering and were heavily oversubscribed – so much so that the crowdfunding site handling it crashed twice. Considering that most people who are interested in medicinal cannabis are sick and therefore poor, being able to raise two million dollars speaks to a tremendous level of support among the population.

What this means is that, sooner or later, there will be a player with extremely deep pockets who wants to break into the New Zealand cannabis market, and this player will see fit to make a “donation” to a reformist party in return for that party supporting some form of repeal of cannabis prohibition. It will probably be a while before this donation matches the six-figure sum that the booze and pills industries are spending on keeping medicinal cannabis illegal, but the gap ought to keep closing.

New Zealanders have fewer rights to access medicinal cannabis than people in Zimbabwe, and the reason for it is alcohol and pharmaceutical industry bribe money going to the National Party. Until we can remove this blatant corruption from our political system, sick Kiwis can only access their medicine in secret.

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Vince McLeod is a former Membership Secretary of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and author of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook.

Legalising Cannabis Would More Than Fix The Hole in New Zealand’s Education Budget

The Labour Party is crying loudly about the hole in the education budget, but is silent about the potential savings from repealing cannabis prohibition

Every week the Labour Party goes back on another one of its election promises, claiming that there’s much less money in the budget than anyone realised and so they won’t be able to fund anything: not education, not health, not welfare. What the criminal bullshitters in the Government don’t admit is that they could save 400 million dollars every year, starting tomorrow, simply by legalising cannabis.

The net benefits of repealing cannabis prohibition are no longer disputable. Eight US states now have fully legal cannabis, with further legalisation referendums to come, and no-one has any regrets. According to calculations by the New Zealand Treasury, this country is flushing $400,000,000 down the toilet every year in order to enforce a law that the New Zealand people do not want. That’s no small sum of money.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has come out and said that there is a $1,100,000,000 shortfall in the education budget. The linked article cites Hipkins as claiming that “Over the next three budgets, $929m was needed to cover the cost of new schools and classrooms and to meet the cost of the Christchurch rebuild. The remaining $166m was needed for urgent remediation and demolition of classrooms and buildings that are unusable.”

In the linked article, Hipkins blames the former National-led Government for neglecting capital spending on educational buildings, claiming that Labour is not going to be able to meet its election promises as a consequence. But it’s absolutely absurd that the Labour Government is crying about funding shortfalls when it’s wasting such an incredible amount of money on conducting a War on Drugs against the New Zealand people.

According to the Treasury’s own calculations, if we legalised cannabis today, we would save $1,200,000,000 over the course of the next three Budgets, primarily through not having to fund the Police and “Justice” Systems to piss all that money up the wall on persecuting medicinal cannabis users. So it makes no sense at all for Labour to cry about a shortage of money when it’s wasting incredible sums on enforcing a law that the New Zealand people don’t want.

A study conducted in Colorado from last month has shown that even if one accounts for the increases in social costs that come in the wake of legalisation, there is still a large net gain to the economy. Moreover, “The researchers found no evidence that legal cannabis contributed to increased homelessness or increased youth use of marijuana.”

There are other costs to cannabis prohibition that don’t fall into the $400,000,000 of damages. By withholding a widely-recognised exit drug from people struggling with opiate addiction, we are literally killing the most vulnerable New Zealanders. Studies of American states that have liberalised their cannabis laws have shown that, given the choice between opiates or cannabis, many people with severe pain disorders prefer to use cannabis. This has led to thousands fewer deaths from opiate overdoses.

It’s absolutely insane that our school buildings are falling into disrepair, our hospitals have mold on the walls, and that our rape crisis centres are being closed down, all because of a lack of funding, when we’re wasting over a billion dollars every electoral cycle on cannabis prohibition. If the Labour Party were any less neoliberal than the National Party they replaced, they would open an honest discussion on the subject with the stated intention of legalising cannabis as Colorado did in 2012.

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Our Mental Health System Shouldn’t Run on WINZ Logic

A lot of people complain about the way WINZ treats its clients, but their logic makes a certain sense. By verbally and psychologically abusing many of the people who come to them for help, WINZ staff sharply reduce demand for WINZ services and thereby save taxpayer money. This is called WINZ logic, and our mental health system runs by the same principles.

WINZ logic seems to appeal to the vast majority of New Zealanders. We like to consider ourselves a people who have “hardened up”, and who don’t need faggy things like welfare. Moreover, the high levels of diversity in our society mean that those at the top are unwilling to pay taxes for the greater good, because those taxes won’t be helping people like them. So we make sure that WINZ runs an extremely tight ship, where there is absolutely no wastage.

Somewhere along the way, someone working at WINZ realised that many of their clients could easily be discouraged from seeking WINZ services. Many people who need WINZ services are socially outcast or psychologically damaged, and so they are easily disheartened by abuse. If these people were spoken to like thieving, bludging, malingering scum, instead of being treated like fellow humans who need help, they were less likely to come back and ask for more money.

Ultimately, the essence of WINZ logic is this: the more unpleasant the experience of being a WINZ client can be made, the fewer resources WINZ clients will collectively consume.

With ever-tightening social welfare budgets under nine years of a National-led Government, treating the clients badly became the default way to distinguish between the deserving and the undeserving poor. If someone really needed a benefit, WINZ logic claimed, they’d keep coming back despite the mistreatment. So treating the clients badly achieves the twin goals of saving money while still helping the needy.

Unfortunately, our mental health system works on the same logic. In order to save money, patients are systematically verbally and emotionally abused by support workers. They don’t admit to this, and nowhere is it written that this is official policy, but it’s apparent from collating the experiences of many users of the mental health services that this is the case.

The logic appears to be that it’s better for a hundred schizophrenics to starve in the street than it is for one person to perhaps get a benefit that they didn’t 100% need. After all, a severely mentally ill young person who is unlikely to work again is liable to cost the country up to half a million dollars in benefit payments alone over the course of their lives. If people like this could be convinced to commit suicide instead, the potential savings could run into the hundreds of millions.

This might sound implausible to some, but it’s a natural consequence of neoliberal reasoning. Human life has a dollar value. If mentally ill people can’t contribute to the tax farm, and if we can’t just kill them directly, we have to encourage them to kill themselves. This reasoning was introduced to New Zealand by Ruth Richardson in the 1991 Budget and it’s now an indelible part of our culture. After all, we already have “by far the highest youth suicide rates in the developed world”.

If this wasn’t true, then the experience of being a user of the mental health services would be entirely different. One would be treated much like a person ill with a physical illness – as a fellow human being who had had something unfortunate happen to them and required care in order to recover to normal function. Doctors would answer your questions honestly. Consultations would work towards improving your mental health rather than merely assessing your work readiness.

Further evidence for this comes from the refusal to acknowledge cannabis medicine. Despite the fact that there was enough evidence for the medicinal value of cannabis for California to make it legal already in 1996, New Zealand politicians and doctors still have their heads up their arses. Now even Zimbabwe has legal medicinal cannabis.

What this approach to cannabis tells the mentally ill in New Zealand is that the mental health system isn’t really interested in helping them. It’s just: “Take these sedatives and get back to picking cotton.” It wouldn’t matter if 100,000 people all lined up to tell doctors that cannabis had helped them sleep or had helped with anxiety, depression or suicidal ideation. No-one’s listening, no-one cares.

Our mental health system shouldn’t run on the WINZ logic of withholding aid to as many people as possible. It should be recognised that an investment in a person’s mental health now will have excellent returns in both their future productivity and future unwillingness to use mental health services. The emphasis should be on treating them well so that they can get better and we can save money over their lifetime, not treating them like shit to save money this month.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Medicinal Cannabis Advances in 2017 – A Review

This literature review was conducted using Google Scholar, which was used to find citations of academic papers that referenced “cannabis medicine”, “cannabis psychosis”, “cannabis schizophrenia” and “medicinal cannabis”.

The strands of research that interest us here include: research undermining cannabis prohibition, with reference to psychiatric concerns; research supporting use of cannabis medicine, with reference to psychiatric conditions; evidence for cannabis as a substitute for opioids; other evidence supporting the use of cannabis medicine.

Research undermining cannabis prohibition, with reference to psychiatric concerns

This paper in the Biological Psychiatry Journal was notable for containing the sentence “Meta-analyses suggest that individuals with schizophrenia who use cannabis show better cognitive functioning compared to those who are non-users.”

Another paper in the Schizophrenia Bulletin makes a point of distinguishing between the effects of CBD and the effects of THC, noting that “THC is responsible for the psychotogenic effects of cannabis.” This directly contradicts the received psychiatric wisdom that “cannabis” causes psychosis.

This paper even notes that “independent evidence that CBD has antipsychotic and anxiolytic properties in patients with mental health disorders has been accumulating.” Indeed, doctors in California have been advising people for at least 10 years now that high-CBD strains (such as Northern Lights) were better suited for calming and sleeping purposes than high-THC skunk.

Although this paper is not titled with a journal of publication, it is worthwhile for at least conceding that many of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia are ameliorated by cannabis use.

This paper in the Acta Psychopathologica argues against the prohibition of cannabis on the basis of the Precautionary Principle. According to this paper, almost everyone tempted to smoke cannabis already has, regardless of the law. Moreover, prohibition prevents very few cases of schizophrenia, even assuming a direct causal link. Therefore, the deterrent effect of prohibition is outweighed by the positive effects of making it legal.

Research supporting use of cannabis medicine, with reference to psychiatric conditions

This paper in the the Clinical Psychology Review performed a meta-analysis of recent discoveries about the relationship between medicinal cannabis use and positive mental health outcomes. Perhaps the foremost result of this analysis was “Cannabis has potential for the treatment of PTSD and substance use disorders.” Among cannabis users this is well-known to be one of the main reasons why people smoke it in the first place. It was also noted that “Cannabis use does not appear to increase risk of harm to self or others.”

What is striking about this paper is the absence of Drug War rhetoric. Cannabis use, instead of being described as cannabis abuse (as in the majority of prohibitionist papers), is here given the acronym CTP (cannabis for therapeutic purposes). In the past, a paper that referred to cannabis in this manner would not have been funded or published, so the appearance of the phrase suggests that attitudes are changing.

A comprehensive overview of recent advances in medicinal cannabis science can be found in the Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies Chapters 90 and 91, ‘The Use of Medical Marijuana in the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders’ and ‘Beneficial Effects of Cannabis and Related Compounds on Sleep’.

Unfortunately, much of the literature continues to make the fundamental error of confusing cannabis extracts and pharamceutical preparations with the actual cannabis plant itself (as seen here). The authors of these papers frequently draw the conclusion that cannabis is not helpful for treating certain conditions because some extract was found to not be helpful. Others (as seen here) fail to make any distinction between THC and CBD, lumping all 100+ cannabinoids under the rubric of “marijuana”.

This paper notes that anxiety is one of the top five reasons given by patients in North America for using medicinal cannabis. It doesn’t go into why, but it’s likely that the calming effects of CBD are involved, as they may also be in the case of schizophrenia. Other papers also support the notion that cannabis has use for treating certain mental conditions, such as social anxiety.

Evidence for cannabis as a substitute for opioids

One of the most promising directions of future medicinal cannabis research appears to be in the direction of using cannabis as a substitute for a variety of other medicines that might have worse side-effects or addictive potential.

One of the most astonishing pieces of research was a study of how usage of pain, anxiety and sleep medication decreased when medicinal cannabis was available. In a survey of New England dispensary members, “among respondents that regularly used opioids, over three-quarters (76.7%) indicated that they reduced their use since they started [medicinal cannabis]…” and “…Approximately two-thirds of patients decreased their use of anti-anxiety (71.8%), migraine (66.7%), and sleep (65.2%) medications following [medicinal cannabis]…”.

Another example can be found here. The linked study is a literature review of 2897 medicinal cannabis patients that found “Respondents overwhelmingly reported that cannabis provided relief on par with their other medications, but without the unwanted side effects.”

In particular there seems to be special promise for cannabis to help with the opioid addiction crisis. Several papers suggest promise for cannabis to help here, as well as act as a substitute for sleep medications.

Other evidence supporting the use of cannabis medicine

Soporific uses appear to be one of the most promising avenues for future research into the benefits of medicinal cannabis. This study found reason to support the idea that cannabis heavy in CBDs is better suited for sleep management than cannabis heavy in THCs.

This review in Clinical Psychopharmacology and Medicine suggested that there might be promise in using cannabis to treat Alzheimers’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases, among other neurodegenerative conditions.

Other studies suggest that there is promise for cannabis medicine in alleviating suffering associated with multiple sclerosis.

This study suggested that the savings from prescriptions that don’t get filled in legal cannabis states (because legal medicinal cannabis acts as a substitute for the prescribed medicine) could run into the billions.

What many of these studies have in common is a mention of the need for more research into the potential for cannabis to alleviate suffering, and a lament for the fact that this research has been hamstrung by cannabis prohibition. It’s clear that awareness of the benefits of cannabis medicine is spreading rapidly among the medical community, and that there is much excitement about future applications.

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Vince McLeod is a former Membership Secretary of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and author of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook.

New Zealand First Risks Destruction If It Opposes Medicinal Cannabis Reform

From Jim Anderton to Peter Dunne and now to Winston Peters, New Zealand has always managed to find one piss-soaked old bastard to hold up cannabis law reform

The New Zealand First Party won 8.7% of the votes in the 2014 General Election, which entitled them to 11 Parliamentary seats. Strategic blunders saw them fall to 7.2% of the vote in 2017, still above the 5% threshold but precariously so. New Zealand First is at risk of committing another strategic blunder by opposing Chloe Swarbrick’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill, and this article will explain why.

Dan McGlashan’s Understanding New Zealand provides us with an explanation for what happened here. We can see that the correlation between being Maori and voting New Zealand First was initially very strong, at 0.66 in 2014, when they did very well in the Maori seats. By 2017 the strength of this correlation had fallen to 0.38, as a large proportion of that Maori support abandoned the party.

Between 2014 and the 2017 General Election, New Zealand First came out in opposition to those same Maori seats in which they had done so well. This was a massive error because Maori people are extremely reluctant to cede any kind of political power to the Crown, for the understandable reason that when they have done so in the past, they ended up losing heavily from it.

New Zealand First were punished at the ballot box in 2017, losing 1.5% of their vote, mostly from Maoris who switched back to to Labour.

Between 2017 and the 2020 General Election, we may see another fall in New Zealand First support, and for similar reasons, only this time it may be catastrophic. The difficulty is that Winston Peters risks betraying the wishes of many of the people who support their party by opposing Swarbrick’s Bill.

On the Bill, Peters is quoted as saying “It goes far too far. There’s no restrictions at all, it’s random, it’s haphazard, it’s free for all.” Whether this means New Zealand First will support the Bill through its first reading or not is unclear, but if they vote to dismiss the Bill they run the risk of self-destruction, because they will alienate many of their core supporters.

Invalid’s beneficiaries are heavy supporters of New Zealand First – the correlation between being on an invalid’s benefit and voting New Zealand First in 2017 was 0.47, which is moderately strong. Many of these invalids have found medicinal relief in cannabis, which is reflected in the strong correlation of 0.79 between being on an invalid’s benefit and voting Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2017.

These stats suggest that there are a large number of cannabis-using invalids who voted New Zealand First at the last election, and further New Zealand First opposition to cannabis law reform risks alienating these people further.

Although New Zealand First does get more support from older people than younger ones, this is nowhere near as pronounced as most people think it is. The correlation between median age and voting New Zealand First in 2017 was only 0.26, in comparison to the correlation of 0.78 between median age and voting National in 2017.

Therefore, concern about the opinions of elderly Boomers with regard to cannabis ought not factor too heavily in New Zealand First’s calculus. The vast majority of young people support proper cannabis law reform, and New Zealand First risks tarnishing their image among these voters through their conservatism on this issue.

Perhaps the biggest risk that New Zealand First runs by opposing this medicinal cannabis bill is through losing the support of the New Zealand-born, who are not only the biggest New Zealand First supporters by far but also the biggest cannabis law reform supporters by far. The correlation between being New Zealand-born and voting for New Zealand First in 2017 was 0.54, which is moderately strong, but the correlation between being New Zealand-born and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2017 was 0.73.

Cannabis use is an intrinsic part of Kiwi culture, and it’s not going anywhere. If the New Zealand First Party really wants to make good on its pretensions to represent Kiwis and our culture, they need to accept the fact that we really enjoy using cannabis and are going to keep doing it.

New Zealand First might be tempted by conservative instincts to oppose this bill, but you can’t piss directly in the face of your own supporters in that way and expect that they will turn out to support you when you ask for it at election time. Maoris, young people and invalids are all heavily impacted by our ludicrous cannabis laws, and young Maoris doubly so. They have been crying out for relief, and a recreational alternative to alcohol, for decades.

New Zealand is already 22 years behind California on the medicinal cannabis issue, and New Zealand First is causing this country to fall further and further behind, mostly at the expense of their own long-term voters. If they don’t keep up with the state of play and research in other jurisdictions they risk destruction at the hands of the voters.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).