Giving Bob McCoskrie a national platform to rant about “dope” and “Big Marijuana” is like giving your granddad a national platform to rant about Islanders after he’s had a few sherries on Boxing Day. Stuff did it anyway. This column will have a look at McCoskrie’s screed of fuckwittery, with the intent of responding to his shamelessly dishonest rhetoric with some facts.
One can guess from the title of the article (“Legalised dope is a licence for Big Marijuana to exploit young people”) that it is going to be crudely dismissive of the wishes of the New Zealand cannabis community. To have an article with the word “dope” in the headline is like publishing an anti-immigration opinion piece that had the word “niggers” in the headline. He has blatantly chosen the most inflammatory possible term to describe cannabis, one that associates cannabis use with brain damage.
In this piece, McCoskrie recounts his observations from a recent trip to Colorado, one that he undertook to “see first-hand the effects of legalising marijuana”.
His second paragraph mentions “a money-making industry of lobbyists and special interest groups putting profits over evidence-based policy protecting public health and safety, and ready to flout and challenge any regulations,” with the implication that this describes the industrial cannabis lobby, but this description more aptly fits the alcohol and timber industry lobbyists who agitated to make cannabis illegal in the first place.
McCoskrie gets hysterical about the high THC content of the cannabis products he spies in the Colorado “dope shops”, but the facts are that a high THC product actually makes the product safer. Like the fuckwit he is, McCoskrie is thinking about THC as if it was alcohol, so that a high-THC cannabis edible is somehow functionally equivalent to an absinthe or similar.
No-one has ever died of a THC overdose, so comparing it to high-proof alcohol is nonsense. Unlike alcohol, which kills people in New Zealand every weekend, cannabis doesn’t kill anyone. The most dangerous thing about cannabis is probably the long-term effects of regularly smoking it – and these are completely avoided by the edibles and vaporises that McCoskrie rants about. In other words, what he is railing against are the signs of people using cannabis more safely and responsibly to minimise harm.
Some of the paragraphs in this article are “Old man yells at cloud” level, and the reader can’t help but to wonder if McCoskrie has some kind of senile dementia that has caused him to see things that aren’t there. He decries people in Colorado “popping a handful of Gummi Bears containing 10 times the legal limit of THC per serving,” but there is no legal limit of THC per serving, any more than there is a legal limit of caffeine per serving. The sentence is simply nonsense.
McCoskrie is so hysterical that at some points in his screed he becomes completely detached from reality. The worst example is when he cites the existence of cannabis suppositories as proof that cannabis producers are deliberately targeting their product at the young. In fact, the vast majority of people who use cannabis suppositories are elderly ones who cannot use other route of administration because of the complications of old age. Perhaps McCoskrie should have tried a few while he was over there?
It’s noteworthy that at no point in his travels through Colorado did McCoskrie see anything untoward happen on account of cannabis legalisation. He talks about the terrible panoply of cannabis-related products as if it were Weimar Republic pimps selling children on a Berlin street, but can’t recall seeing any notable level of crime in Colorado or any homelessness in the streets, or any sign of social decay. This is striking, considering that the state legalised cannabis four years ago, which is easily enough time for anything of that nature to have occurred. McCoskrie is just a wowser.
No anti-cannabis rant would be complete without employing the slippery slope fallacy, and McCoskrie duly gives us the line “they will want legalisation not just of this drug but all drugs – cocaine, heroin, P”. By this he somehow draws a connection between people who want access to medicinal cannabis and people who go on methamphetamine benders, when the two people could hardly be more different.
It’s exactly this kind of rhetoric conflating people who need medicinal cannabis with reckless criminals that fuels the War on Drugs, which means that McCoskrie must share some blame for the suffering caused by cannabis prohibition. It’s because of people like him that people like Helen Kelly have to suffer needlessly as they die.
Predictably, McCoskrie gets savaged in the comments below the article. What he is writing might have been considered mainstream conservatism 40 years ago, but now it goes down about as well as other conservative ideas from 40 years ago, like whipping up hysteria about white people and Maoris sleeping with each other. It’s apparent from reading this article that McCoskrie doesn’t have the faintest idea what he’s talking about, and is panicking for no good reason.
The only thing this piece can be compared to is a sermon by a Third World religious fundamentalist, who has travelled to the West and seen dancing and intermingling between unmarried youths and shit their pants. McCoskrie is a religious fundamentalist – his Family First lobby group want to recriminalise prostitution and further restrict alcohol. Essentially, they are theocrats, and McCoskrie wants to prohibit cannabis for the same reason that the rulers of places like Iran and Saudi Arabia do.
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