It’s obvious by now that New Zealand politicians have completely lost all control of the drug laws. From the legal highs circus to the disaster that was the Psychoactive Substances Act to the obstinate refusal to even discuss medicinal cannabis, we all know that they’ve lost the plot.
So when we get rid of them, we might as well get rid of their whole rotten system (founded on lies) and start from scratch, basing our drug policy on scientific evidence instead of the hysteria, primitive superstition and vicious envy that has characterised the standard approach until now.
If we start from scratch, what would our system of drug laws, restrictions and prohibitions look like?
This article suggests that the best model would be to have a system of different classes of license to purchase different classes of drugs.
This would operate much like the current system for licensing of motor vehicles. In the same way that anyone wishing to operate a motorcycle must demonstrate competence in a different set of skills to someone wishing to operate a regular car, so too does anyone wishing to use a drug safely need to understand various sets of skills relating to the class of drug.
For example, tobacco is a very safe drug in terms of how difficult it is to overdose (basically impossible) and how long it takes heavy use to kill you (several decades on average). So getting a license to buy tobacco would be very simple. Probably little more than demonstrating an awareness of the effects of tobacco and how to get help if they feel they are addicted.
Methamphetamine, on the other hand, is not so safe. It is very easy to use methamphetamine in a way that inadvertently leads to health problems.
So getting a license to use recreational methamphetamine might be more like getting a helicopter license – it may take a few years, it may require character references, it may require an absence of prior criminal convictions, it may require that the individual’s methamphetamine use is accounted for by a pharmacist who would notice a creeping addiction etc.
If anything, requiring a license to drink alcohol would make more sense than anything else. For one thing, people already have to prove that they are 18 years of age or older before they can buy alcohol, so having to have an alcohol license would not be an extra hassle.
For another – and this is the major advantage – an alcohol license would make it much easier for the justice system to deal with alcohol-related misbehaviour: simply take the alcohol license away.
Drunk in charge of a motor vehicle? Loss of alcohol license and driver’s license. Drunk and bash someone over the head for a laugh? Loss of alcohol license and a fine or imprisonment. Drinking yourself to death and your GP knows he’s watching you die? Loss of alcohol license and the option of an addiction management course.
As it stands currently, you can get drunk, bash someone, get a suspended sentence because prison for common assault is considered a bit heavy, and then be back on the piss that afternoon.
Curiously, there is already an example of such a thing in Polynesia: alcohol licenses in Tonga.
If one imagines a system in which a person could use basically whatever drug they wanted as long as they could complete a reasonable, objective, intelligently-designed series of tasks that demonstrated competency to use it with a minimum of negative externalities on society, it seems so much better than the stupidity we now have.
It would also bring some respect back for the mental health services, as it is currently impossible to have any when they lie to their patients about the medicinal value of various drugs: it would be impossible to get away with telling such lies under an evidence-based system.
This would also circumvent other problems, such as the potential for drug tourism. People who come on short visits to New Zealand won’t have drug licenses, and Kiwis will be reluctant to use their licenses to buy drugs because, if caught, they would lose them.
Such a system of licensing would make it much easier to correctly respond to societal health and crime problems than the current “destroy the drug user” model.
If one assumes without the need for elaboration that withholding medicine from a sick person is a very cruel thing to do, then it’s incredible that so little attention is being given to the fact that medicinal cannabis is being withheld from sick Kiwis even today. This article tries to estimate how many of us this policy is killing.
One way that National Party cannabis policy is killing New Zealanders is by withholding from them a medical alternative to opioids. A 2015 Boston Herald article describes how doctors in more enlightened jurisdictions use cannabis as an exit drug for people struggling with opioid addiction.
A doctor in the report is quoted as saying “patients have decreased and even eliminated their opioids” when presented with an alternative in the form of cannabis.
A paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that overdose deaths from prescription opioids decreased by 25% in states that legalised medicinal cannabis.
The reason was that patients who had access to medicinal cannabis used it either as a substitute or as a compliment to opioids, which had the effect of sharply reducing their overall opioid intake and thereby fatal outcomes.
According to the New Zealand Drug Foundation, 37 Kiwis die of opioid overdoses every year.
If medicinal cannabis would save a quarter of them, as it does in the USA, then Bill English’s refusal to legalise cannabis is killing about nine Kiwis every year simply on the basis of lost opportunity to prevent opioid deaths.
An article in the American Public Journal of Health found that legalising medicinal cannabis reduced suicide rates by 5%. The reasons for this are really obvious if you are one of the many people who has used cannabis to treat your own depression or suicidal ideation.
As a professional medical researcher would put it: “The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young men is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events.”
Most people who use cannabis do so to relax, to chill out – “to cope with stressful life events”. Given that, it’s obvious that withholding from people a medicine that helps them cope with stressful life events is going to kill them.
New Zealand is famous for our youth suicide rates, second highest in the OECD for both males and females.
So given what we know about the ability of cannabis to prevent anxiety and stress-based suicidal actions, it’s safe to say that Bill English is responsible for the deaths of 5% of New Zealand’s suicide toll, which is believed to be around 500 per year.
In other words, the National Party’s refusal to update New Zealand’s cannabis laws is arguably causing the deaths of around 25 Kiwis every year to preventable suicide.
The major way that cannabis prohibition is killing New Zealanders, however, is by withholding from us a recreational alternative to booze. A 2010 Coroner’s report found that alcohol directly killed 1,100 Kiwis in the preceding decade – or 110 a year.
This does not refer to deaths from complications caused by alcoholism or excessive drinking – this figure would be orders of magnitude larger. This figure of 110 is the average number of Kiwis who drink themselves to death in one session every year.
It’s unclear how many of these people would still be alive if they had been allowed an alternative to alcohol. A 2005 study referenced in a landmark MedScape paper suggested “most people use alcohol to achieve certain psychological effects, and that they will choose equally effective substitutes as long as they are available, legal and socially acceptable.”
Perhaps 10% of the 110 Kiwis who drink themselves to death every year would still be with us if they had had cannabis available and/or legal (the fact that it is already socially acceptable in New Zealand is unquestionable).
This gives us a grand total of 45 Kiwis killed every year from the refusal of Bill English and his National Party to update the medicinal cannabis laws (9 from opioid overdose, 25 from suicide and 11 from drinking themselves to death).
That means that the death of one New Zealander every eight days could be prevented at the stroke of a pen by tomorrow lunchtime.
It’s incredible that New Zealanders continue to accept that their ruling class is literally killing them with laws that starkly have no place in a compassionate and humane society.
A New Zealand family is torn in half because draconian laws prevent them from accessing the natural medicine their daughter needs to prevents seizures. Corporate interests have made all alternatives to pharmaceuticals illegal, so the family is forced to flee to South Africa to get healthcare.
It sounds like a dystopian cyberpunk novel along the lines of The Verity Key, but this is actually the reality of New Zealand today.
Kiwis like to smugly think that their country is more socially advanced than the others: after all, we gave women the right to vote in 1893. Surely we’re more advanced than South Africa, in any case. But on the major moral issues of the day, New Zealand is already more backwards than South Africa.
A court in the Western Cape just ruled that cannabis can be used in the home without fear of prosecution. This means that South Africa has a more enlightened, compassionate and mature approach to the War on Drugs than New Zealand.
Does any court in New Zealand have the courage to do that? Not a chance in hell. Our judges and justice system representatives happily lick the arses of the politicians who command them to put Kiwis in cages for their use of a medicinal plant.
This comes after Uruguay fully legalised cannabis in 2013.
It might come as a blow to the pride of Kiwi readers to hear that their country, long considered forwards-thinking, is now more culturally backwards than South Africa and parts of South America. But it’s true, and we’re going to have to get used to it. They have surpassed us in cultural advancement, because we have stagnated so badly.
The total failure of the New Zealand Baby Boomers to hold the political class to account has meant that New Zealanders actually lack rights than people in certain parts of Africa enjoy.
When South Africa legalised gay marriage in 2006, Kiwis who knew about it mostly wrote it off as a fluke, one that went against the run of play. But now that a South African court has ruled cannabis legal – again, well in advance of any New Zealand court doing so – we Kiwis have to accept that we are now the socially and culturally retarded cousin in the relationship. They have surpassed us.
Even prisoners in Uruguayan jails have access to medicinal cannabis.
Considering that one of the major psychiatric uses for medicinal cannabis is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and considering that misbehaving on account of having complications from PTSD is one of the major reasons why people end up in prison, withholding it from prisoners in New Zealand seems inhumanely cruel.
Cruel, but reflective of who we really are, not who we pretend to be. Our reputation as a world leader on social issues is gone, gone, gone. We pissed it down the toilet for tax cuts and a lift in the value of our property portfolios.
The third world country at the bottom of Africa that had apartheid based on race until 1994 is now more socially advanced than New Zealand. That’s how far behind we have fallen. That’s how badly the Baby Boomer intellectuals have failed us.
Kiwis, we are now more backwards than South Africa, and this is not a new idea that has fluttered into the consciousness but a grim reality that has been bitterly chewed over for a decade. Is there anyone left with the will to challenge this?
If a person is slapped awake for even the briefest of moments they might come to look around and ask why a parasitic class of politicians wields power of life and death over them despite a total lack of historical evidence that they are wise enough for the responsibility or even intelligent enough to comprehend that it exists.
The truth is that the ruling classes maintain their position in every time and place in the same simple way, and have done so ever since the first chimpanzee established a dominance hierarchy in the primeval jungle: by taking rights away from the people they rule, and then giving some of them back in exchange for submission.
This essay will describe the method of enslavement known as “democracy” – a method that has reached acute levels of sophistication in the modern West.
As described above, the essential pattern is bipartite: first, take rights away from the people; second, promise to give some of those rights back to the people in exchange for their submission.
What’s crucial to understand is that the relationship described here is that of the rulers towards the ruled. Which flavour of political party the rulers use to swindle the rights of the ruled away from them is not relevant, as all political parties are tools of the ruling class.
Any political party is capable of taking rights away and giving rights back, because in a democratic system the masses have submitted to the rulers of that party. All that matters is that more rights are taken away than are given back.
This can be seen when the National Party takes away people’s rights to use medicinal cannabis, but gives them back some of their right to keep the money they have earned.
The Labour and Green Parties, by contrast, will promise to give you your rights to use medicinal cannabis back, but they will take away some of your right to keep the money you have earned.
And both parties will team up to give you back your rights to have sex with people of the same gender as you, but will team up to take away your rights to recreational use of tobacco and alcohol. At least today – it was the other way around 80 years ago and probably will be again in 80 years’ time.
The trick is that as long as both wings of the political machine take away more rights than what they give back, the machine itself can stay in power forever, because there will always be an unjust deficit of rights somewhere and therefore always grounds for a politician to come in and start promising things.
Helen Clark, for example, knew that she could not make any progress on cannabis law reform between 1999 and 2008, because then the Labour Party would not be able to gain votes by promising to look at reforming the medicinal cannabis laws in 2017.
Likewise, Andrew Little in 2017 knows that, if he is to be elected to power, he must make the smallest possible amount of progress on the issue.
This is why he only makes vague mumblings about sorting out medicinal cannabis, but will not under any circumstances discuss the incredible success of the Colorado model, and how adopting it in NZ would save us $400,000,000 per year.
That is something that has to be left to Jacinda Ardern’s Seventh Labour Government in 2035 or so. If the Labour Party gave too many rights back to the people too quickly, they would lose the leverage that they are currently exploiting to stay in power.
Unfortunately, New Zealanders (like voters everywhere) reward this kind of carry-on by continuing to vote for whichever of its number the ruling class puts forward to rule them that electoral cycle.
After all, it doesn’t matter which party a politician claims to represent – as long as they are from the ruling class, nothing will change.
It can confidently be predicted that many New Zealanders will vote for the Green Party this year for the sake of relief from cannabis prohibition, and that little thought will be given to the people who will lose rights under a Labour-Greens Government – namely, taxpayers.
And it can be confidently predicted that the National Party will rely on the outrage of taxpayers to get back into power in 2026.
Likewise, it can be predicted that any rights that Kiwis can claw back from the ruling class regarding the use of cannabis will be outweighed by the loss of rights to access alcohol, tobacco, and other recreational alternatives.
As before; so after – the Hermetic axioms apply to time as well as space.