The Case For Cannabis: Reform Would Not Send The Wrong Message to the Children

One of the usual reasons trotted out for opposing cannabis law reform is that it “wouldn’t send the right message to the kids”. This was the statement that John Key frequently made to the media when pressed on the subject. As this article will examine, however, this thought-terminating cliche also attitude is mistaken.

It might sound laughable, but there are many in the New Zealand Government who believe that their personal conduct sets an example for the rest of the country to follow. These deluded fools genuinely believe that the young people of the nation look to them as an example of integrity, honesty and correct conduct. So detached from the people are they, that they are entirely unaware of the contempt in which they are held.

Some of these egomaniacs are afraid that making any move on cannabis law reform would “send the wrong message to the kids”. By this, they think that liberalising the cannabis laws will lead to a spate of young people taking up cannabis use as a habit, on account of that their elders had sent them the message that it was okay.

Leaving aside the obvious retort that this would actually be a good thing if it stopped those young people from doing as much alcohol or synthetic drugs, there are a number of reasons to think that this reasoning is illogical.

For one thing, the message that the politicians appear to be sending by example of their conduct is one of alcohol, tobacco and sleaze. If they are the ones setting the standards for the young to follow, then we can look forward to many decades of boozing, bribery, infidelity, dishonesty, backstabbing and all manner of petty quibbling and bitching.

For another thing, we have to ask ourselves if prohibition itself is actually a good message to be sending out.

The message that the Government seems to be sending by enforcing cannabis prohibition is that the best way to deal with drug problems is by putting people in cages. If someone has a drug dependency of some kind, the way to help them is not by giving them medical care, but by physically forcing them into a cage full of rapists, murderers and thieves.

They seem to be telling people that empathy and compassion don’t factor into government decisions, and that they are more than happy to brutally force citizens to conform to arbitrary laws, even when those same citizens don’t consent to them. Your body is the property of the Government, and they can do what they want with it, including put it in a cage if you use a medicine they don’t approve of.

Worse, they’re also sending the message that science, logic and reason don’t factor into government decisions. The Government is happy to go along with foreign mass hysteria about reefer madness, and thinks it acceptable to force laws onto New Zealanders on the grounds that they have been introduced overseas, with no consideration given to the science or to the need for evidence.

Perhaps the worst message of all has been that sent by Parliamentarians who have ignored all the letters and emails they have received from their constituents about cannabis law reform. For decades, Kiwis have been entreating their Parliamentarians to do something about cannabis prohibition, knowing how much access to cannabis medicine would improve their life quality. And for decades, those Parliamentarians did nothing – the vast majority too cowardly to even raise a peep.

By ignoring the will of the people for cannabis reform, the Government is sending the message that it’s acceptable for the Government to impose whatever arbitrary laws it likes on the population, even without that population’s consent, and then to ignore them when they complain about the suffering caused. This is far more of a danger than the risk of Parliamentarians sending the message that it’s okay to use cannabis.

If the Government is truly concerned about the message that their conduct sends to the people, they ought to legalise cannabis today, and make an apology for all the suffering their actions caused by waging a War on Drugs against their own people. This would send a message of humility, integrity and contrition – much better than imprisoning people for using a substance that the New Zealand people think should be legal.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis is Not Addictive

One of the most common arguments against cannabis is that it is an “addictive drug”. People making this argument raise images of zombie-like addicts burgling houses and selling their bodies in dark alleyways for the money to finance their addiction. Leaving aside the fact that this fear-mongering is bollocks, the argument isn’t even accurate.

The scientific literature warns us of “irritability, anxiety, decreased appetite, restlessness and sleep disturbances“, sleep problems and “a constellation of behavioral, somatic, and mood symptoms.” It’s clear that to stop using cannabis often means that one encounters these problems, but they soon go away. People enjoy using cannabis, but use alone does not count as addiction.

Psychology Today ran an article that stated “The vast majority of those who use marijuana do so occasionally and exhibit no addictive symptoms — no increased tolerance, no cravings and no withdrawal. In other words, they can take it or leave it.”

It’s true that cannabis does not cause meaningful physical addiction. Something that’s really addictive is alcohol. Withdrawals from alcohol are known to cause delirium tremens, a phenomenon known as “the DTs”, which can kill the sufferer. If this is considered an acceptable side-effect of a recreational drug, then the physical addiction potential of cannabis is nowhere near objectionable.

The counter-argument to this is to say that cannabis can still be psychologically addictive. Psychological addiction is a kind of excessive habituation, where a person does not become medically ill but who can suffer “psychological symptoms like anxiety, mood swings and depression”.

At this point, another frightening image is formed. Here, instead of burglars, the stereotype is of slovenly, morbidly obese videogamers who lie around all day drinking Mountain Dew, completely without ambition aside from securing their weed supply, all social bonds long since abandoned in favour of the next puff.

The reality is that it’s not so much a matter of cannabis being addictive, as that people who do not have adequate levels of stimulation search for anything they can to fill the gap, and cannabis fills the gap. Anyone who smokes cannabis every day can tell you this – it’s frequently a matter of having nothing better to do.

As was demonstrated by the Rat Park experiments carried out by Professor Bruce Alexander, addiction is a function of both available addictive substances and a lack of environmental stimulation.

The Rat Park experiments showed that rats that lived in a stimulating and interesting environment, where a variety of exercise, food and mating opportunities were available, were up to 19 times less likely to consume water laced with morphine when compared to rats that lived in a standard laboratory cage. Given that rats are also social (or at least semi-social) mammals, this can teach us some things about the nature of addiction in humans.

The fact is that human society of 2019 has left some people behind to die, and for these unfortunate masses there is not a lot of pleasant stimulation to be had. Some of these people turn to alcohol to fill the gap, some turn to opiates, some turn to tobacco, some turn to cannabis. In all cases, the problem is not the drug itself, but an environment that fails to provide stimulation enough to meet people’s psychological needs.

If sufficiently fulfilling stimulation is available (or at least entertaining stimulation), people don’t tend to smoke cannabis all day. Therefore, the emphasis shouldn’t be on putting people in cages for using cannabis, it should be on creating a society that people freely want to engage in.

Most of the reason why cannabis users have had to take all the blame, instead of the people responsible for constructing society in a way that others want to escape it by using cannabis, is that the people responsible for designing society have all the power. Naturally, therefore, they design society in such a way that all of the other members of it have to take the blame for its failures.

What cannabis addiction ultimately amounts to is blaming cannabis for the problems caused by cannabis prohibition. Just because bored people with nothing to do sometimes smoke cannabis all day doesn’t mean that the cannabis forced them to do it. A healthy society that allowed people to freely use cannabis in (e.g.) coffeeshops, would soon find that people soon get bored of it and drift into other things.

The argument that cannabis is addictive is not sufficient to justify making cannabis illegal. The addictive potential of cannabis is minor, and the withdrawal symptoms from it not severe. Focus should be placed on organising society in a manner that inspires ordinary people to engage with it of their own free will, not punishing cannabis use.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: The Punishment Does Not Fit the Crime

Proportional sentencing is supposed to be a fundamental tenet of our justice system. When a person causes suffering to another, they are given a proportionate amount of suffering intended to discourage: we are told that “the punishment should fit the crime”. As this article will argue, the punishment for cannabis offences is not commensurate with the nature of the crime.

The maximum penalty for possession of cannabis is three months imprisonment, as established by Section 7 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Most Kiwis can intuitively understand that this is massively disproportionate to any harm caused by the act of cannabis possession, but this law is on the books, and has been for over 40 years without being repealed.

Some might counter here with the fact that essentially no-one gets sentenced to prison for cannabis possession nowadays. This counter-argument misses two essential points.

The first is obvious: if no-one goes to prison for cannabis possession anymore, on account of that society has “moved on” and no longer considers cannabis possession a crime, then it’s an obsolete law. If it’s an obsolete law, then we ought to strike it from the books.

The second is that people still go to prison for cannabis cultivation, which is not any more of a crime than cannabis possession is. Brian Borland was given four years and nine months imprisonment for unrepentantly growing cannabis – an incredible punishment if one considers that no-one was harmed by his actions.

Some people were outraged by the sentence given to Devonte Mulitalo, an Auckland youth worker who groomed and sexually assaulted a 12-year old girl, coercing her to perform sex acts on him. He was given ten months home detention. Many thought this sentence was too light, and in comparison to Borland’s sentence it seems obscene.

Takaka resident Alicia Fulcher-Poole was given three and half years in prison for killing someone while driving high on methamphetamine. It’s incredible that reckless disregard for human life resulting in a death can receive a less severe penalty from the system than growing a medicine without permission. But this is the state of our “justice” system.

It’s apparent to almost everyone that 52 months imprisonment for growing cannabis is a ludicrously disproportionate punishment, when the total suffering caused by growing cannabis is compared to the suffering caused by killing someone through reckless use of a motor vehicle. Even if one assumes the most uncharitable interpretation of Borland’s motives, he didn’t kill anyone.

Borland’s sentence was getting up towards the maximum end of the scale, which is seven years imprisonment. This is a heavier sentence than the sentences that are routinely given out for killing people in motor vehicle accidents.

Moreover, the effect of having a criminal record lasts longer than the sentence, and sometimes much longer. Branding someone a criminal – even if there is such as thing as the Clean Slate Act – is to consign them to a lower class of citizen, one that is precluded from many opportunities that normal people take for granted.

Even a measly cannabis possession conviction is enough to prevent someone from being allowed to enter a variety of countries, most notoriously America. Neither will it be straightforward to work as a Police officer, teacher or other Government employee. This is a heavy, heavy punishment just for being caught in possession of a medicinal flower.

This loss of travel and employment opportunity is enough to significantly lower the quality of a person’s life. Getting involved with cannabis should never mean that a person is consigned to live as a lower class of citizen for the rest of their lives. This is a level of arbitrary cruelty that borders on barbarism.

Cannabis prohibition should be lifted because it’s not right to have such brutal punishments for actions that do not cause suffering. It makes a mockery of the supposed proportionality of the justice system. Using the criminal justice system to deal with cannabis is an absurd over-reaction to something that doesn’t harm others.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis is Not Harmful

One of the most fundamental arguments for cannabis prohibition is that cannabis is harmful. Because of this harm, the argument goes, we need to make cannabis illegal. This will give people less opportunity to use cannabis and thereby have their lives destroyed. As this article will examine, there are at least two good reasons to oppose this argument.

Firstly, we can see prohibition causes more harm than legal cannabis would – and over and above the harm caused by enforcing the prohibition. When a country or state introduces cannabis prohibition, they usually also introduce a number of ancillary laws that are ostensibly to fight the harm of cannabis, but which end up causing more harm.

It’s apparent that burning plant matter and then inhaling the smoke is not the best thing you could do for your lungs. This is not a contentious assertion, and the vast majority of cannabis users are fully aware of it. But when people have tried to take measures to make cannabis use more safe, they find themselves being stymied by the law. In many cases, the law is intended to penalise not just cannabis use but the entire cannabis culture.

Manufacturing cannabis butter to make some brownies changes your crime from possession of a Class C drug to manufacture of a Class B drug. So if a person decided to make some hash brownies, they would then not only be in possession of a Class B illegal drug, but they could also be charged with manufacturing it – which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

We are told that the schedule of increasing penalties reflects the schedule of increasing harm caused by these drugs. But the harm of cannabis does not increase 56 times because someone made some bud into some brownies. There’s no logic to that at all – if anything, the harm is lessened by virtue of avoiding lung damage.

It’s true that the psychoactive effect of hash brownies will be greater than smoked bud, but the psychological drawbacks of using cannabis have been massively overstated. The cozy consensus that using cannabis causes schizophrenia has been shattered by new research suggesting that it is a genetic propensity to schizophrenia that predicts cannabis use, and not the case that cannabis use alone predicts schizophrenia.

In any case, it’s possible that even cannabis bud does not cause net harm. Yes, smoking it is not great, but the smoke damage may be outweighed by the medical benefits of lower stress etc.

Likewise, the example of “drug paraphernalia” is another one in which the majority of the harm is caused by the law itself, rather than cannabis. People have been arrested for the possession of water bongs and charged with a more severe crime than mere cannabis possession – but using a water bong is more healthy than inhaling hot smoke. Despite being more healthy, possession of a bong carries a maximum penalty of a year’s imprisonment in New Zealand.

The physical harms of cannabis have generally been overstated. Of course, inhaling cannabis smoke is not ideal but even this is transparently less dangerous than rugby, horse riding, skiing and downhill mountain biking. All of these activities, whose level of risk falls into the acceptable threshold, are legal. Therefore the “cannabis is so harmful it should be illegal” is nonsense.

Moreover, even the most ardent cannabis user doesn’t smoke as many joints in a day as a tobacco user smokes cigarettes, and so the level of risk here falls into already established acceptable limits.

Another major argument when it comes to the supposed harms of cannabis is that prohibition is a bizarre response to any supposed harm caused. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that cannabis is harmful – how does it make any sense to introduce more harm into a person’s life, just because they used it? The idea of punishing an adult into taking responsibility is ridiculous.

The argument that cannabis should be prohibited because it is harmful is mistaken. Cannabis prohibition itself is responsible for more harm than cannabis is. If reducing harm done to human beings is a consideration when setting legal policies, then it’s clear that prohibition ought to be repealed for the sake of a less punitive approach.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Drugs Are Not Categorically Bad

“Drugs are bad, mmmmmkay?” goes the South Park joke. Mr. Garrison’s catchphrase satirises the near-total absence of thought that the Establishment has put into their anti-cannabis rhetoric. The idea is that drugs are bad, and cannabis is a drug, therefore cannabis is bad, and therefore cannabis prohibition is justified. As this article will examine, it’s not that simple.

The popular conception of what the word “Drugs” means is highly variable. Some people consider any foreign substance taken into the body to be drugs. Other people say that anything not prescribed by a doctor is drugs; once it is prescribed it magically becomes medicine. Still others contend that drugs are anything that are bad, and anything not drugs is good.

The kind of person who makes the argument that drugs are categorically bad is usually the sort of person who is obsessed with purity. Inevitably they are a wowser of some kind, and they fit into two categories: the first some kind of physical health freak, the second some kind of religious freak. Their belief is that cannabis disrupts physical and spiritual health, respectively.

The physical truth about many drugs, like most substances that one could put into the body, is that healthy and unhealthy use is a primarily a matter of dosage. The most obvious example is salt, where too much or too little will leave a person in poor health. Some might counter here that a lack of cannabis will not make someone sick, but that’s not true in many medicinal cases.

Another example is amphetamines. There are many amphetamines that are basically the same substance as what one finds in ADHD medicines – in other words. The major difference is that the crackhead takes it in much, much heavier doses than what a doctor would recommend.

A small amount of cannabis will not hurt a person, unless they are extremely sensitive to smoke or similar. In fact, a small amount might greatly help a person, especially if they suffer from one of the hundreds of different conditions that cannabis is known to treat. By the same token, smoking a hundred joints a day will be bad for you almost without a doubt.

In any case, the fundamental point is that this argument is misdirected. If a particular dose of a particular substance is bad, then don’t use it. It’s a simple as that!

It’s possible that a blanket admonition against drugs along the lines of “drugs are bad” is a good idea if you are a parent speaking to a ten-year old child. Someone without the mental sophistication to make good decisions might need it. But it’s no basis for a national law that governs young and old alike.

Adult citizens are not like children, and need to be spoken to honestly. The positive and negative effects of all drugs need to be spoken about honestly, and the citizens need to be informed with reference to reality and science. If this does not happen, then the risk arises that those citizens lose trust in doctors and Government officials, and then movements like the anti-vaxx one start to crop up.

Cannabis should not be illegal because “drugs are categorically bad”. This is a child’s logic, and it should not be informing the national cannabis policy. We need to move on from these simplistic thought patterns, because they do not describe the reality of the situation, and absent that people cannot make correct decisions.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition is a Waste of Money

People often talk about cannabis prohibition as if it was just a law and that was that. The reality is that enforcing cannabis prohibition not only costs a large amount of money, but it also prevents a large amount of money from being made. As this article will argue, cannabis prohibition is a colossal waste of money, so much so that it’s worth repealing it on that basis alone.

The cost of cannabis prohibition is close to half a billion dollars a year. This is comprised of two groups of costs: the direct cost of enforcing prohibition, and the opportunity cost of prohibition.

The direct cost of enforcing prohibition chiefly includes prison costs, court costs and Police costs.

According to an estimate made by the New Zealand Treasury, New Zealand spends about $400,000,000 dollars every year on enforcing cannabis prohibition, and is missing out on $150,000,000 of GST on cannabis sales. This means that, according to the New Zealand Government itself, the opportunity cost of enforcing cannabis prohibition is over half a billion dollars a year.

A study by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimated that the American federal government spends USD8,700,000,000 annually on enforcing cannabis prohibition. Adjusted for population size and currency, this suggests that something in the range of $200,000,000 is spent annually in New Zealand to enforce cannabis prohibition (this includes court and prison costs as well as Police costs).

Potentially much greater than this is the opportunity cost of prohibition.

The Miron report linked above suggested that America loses a similar amount from taxation opportunities to what it loses from having to pay to enforce prohibition. Converted to the scale of New Zealand, that suggests that around $200,000,000 in potential tax revenue from legal cannabis sales are instead funnelled into the pockets of criminal gangs.

Other studies suggest similar figures. According to Shamubeel Equab, who wrote a report commissioned by the New Zealand Drug Foundation, up to $240,000,000 could be claimed in tax annually from a regulated drug market.

This is supported by other calculations. The state of Colorado, with a similar population to New Zealand, sells $2,000,000,000 worth of cannabis a year. If a similar amount was sold in New Zealand, that would mean that $300,000,000 of GST would be collected on it.

So, as mentioned earlier, the combined cost of all of the aspects of cannabis prohibition is about half a billion dollars per year.

This is a lot of money for something that arguably has no benefit at all. Even if one charitably conceded that a majority of people wanted cannabis prohibition (they don’t), or that cannabis prohibition prevented a significant amount of cannabis getting into the hands of young people (it doesn’t), $400,000,000 is a great deal of money, especially when considered on an annual basis. It’s about $150 a year for every taxpayer.

Had the Fifth National Government legalised cannabis at the start of their term in 2008, New Zealand would have already saved at least $4,000,000,000. The asset sales campaign run by the National Party raised barely more than this, and that was at the draconian cost of losing ownership of these assets forever.

It sounds incredible, but it’s hard to deny the maths. If the Fifth National Government had legalised cannabis instead of selling state assets, they would have raised almost the same amount of money – without losing ownership of the assets. They sold the country out from under us for effectively nothing.

Worst of all is that New Zealand is borrowing money from overseas sources to pay for the deficits that we’re running in order to finance this prohibition. So not only did we not save $4,000,000,000, but we’re paying interest on those billions – just to imprison our own young people for growing medicinal plants.

Cannabis prohibition should be repealed because it simply isn’t worth the money. The total losses to the New Zealand economy from cannabis prohibition cannot be justified – even if it was charitably conceded that there was some benefit to prohibition. It would be much better to make cannabis legal, which would save hundreds of millions currently wasted on enforcement, as well as gathering hundreds of millions in tax revenue.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: The Criminal Justice System is Not A Treatment Pathway

Of all the terrible arguments made in favour of cannabis prohibition – and there are many – one of the worst is the argument that contends that cannabis prohibition is a good thing because some of the people that get involved in the criminal justice system are incentivised to stop using cannabis. This article will examine the flaws in this logic.

One of the saddest peasant attitudes remaining in our society is the idea that certain people just need a “good kick up the arse” to encourage them to function properly again. The idea seems to be that a “short, sharp shock” of physical abuse can be beneficial to drive dullness from a person’s mind. It’s an abusive attitude that is a remnant of a less enlightened time and, fortunately for the rest of us, it’s dying off.

This attitude finds expression in the idea that getting arrested on account of a cannabis offence could be a good thing, if that led to a person suddenly appreciating the consequences of cannabis use and changing their habits for the better.

There is an element of logic to this line of reasoning. After all, it’s common for young petty criminals to become afraid the first time they encounter some genuine heat from the Police, or the first time they do a custodial sentence and realise that prison isn’t a great deal of fun after all. This fear can, indeed, change behaviour.

But what this approach leaves out is two things.

The first is that many people simply don’t want to stop smoking cannabis, any more than they want to stop playing rugby or buying magazines with Harry and Meghan on the cover. You could instruct the Police to arrest people for playing rugby in the park, on the grounds that their behaviour was recklessly dangerous, but it wouldn’t make it the right thing to do or a good idea. Neither would it stop people from doing it.

Psychologically speaking, it’s hard to declare that you know how another adult should live their lives, and so much better than them, that you can fairly justify setting the Police on them if they don’t do what you say they should do. In another time and place, that degree of coercion would be recognised as slavery, and it’s no wonder that people naturally disobey the cannabis laws today.

So this means that deploying the Police to force people into getting medical treatment for using cannabis (as if that even made sense) will not be effective in the long term. People feel like they have the right to use cannabis, and they will continue to feel as if they have the right, because it’s natural to think it ridiculous that a medicinal plant could be illegal.

It’s possible that Police involvement in a person’s life might reduce their level of cannabis use, but so what? Punching someone in the face for eating a Big Mac might also inspire them to make healthier lifestyle decisions, but that doesn’t mean that the overall benefit of the action outweighs the overall harm.

The second is that there are cases of legitimate medicinal need, and encounters with the criminal justice system are not helpful in cases of medicinal need. Police officers are not qualified doctors and neither can they be. Having them as the first line of dealing with cannabis users makes as much sense as making the Army responsible for it.

The argument refuted in this article is usually made by people who are entirely unaware of the medicinal properties of cannabis. When they become aware of the medicinal properties of cannabis they tend to stop making it. Of course, if a substance really is medicinal then it ought to be something supplied by doctors and pharmacies; the Police should not be needed at any stage.

There may, indeed, be cases where there is a cannabis user who needs psychiatric intervention. After all, there are many instances in which certain strains of cannabis will not be helpful. A person who is acutely psychotic from sleep deprivation doesn’t need a honking high-THC strain that will wire them even tighter.

But even in cases like this, it’s not Police intervention that would be helpful, unless it comes as part of the Mental Health Act or similar and not as part of enforcing the law against the “crime” of cannabis. A person who has mentally disintegrated so far that they need psychiatric intervention is already in a kind of hell. The last thing they need is to encounter law enforcement.

The argument that cannabis users can be persuaded to get treatment for “cannabis abuse” by getting arrested, and then threatened with further attacks from the Justice system, is neither fair for rational. It would be better for cannabis to be made legal and destigmatised, so that people who did need treatment would be more likely to get it. Police involvement is unnecessary.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: A Majority Now Want Reform

One of the strongest arguments for cannabis prohibition was that it was what the majority wanted. For better or for worse, we live in a democratic system, which means that the law ought to reflect the collective wisdom of the majority, and opinion polling in Western countries used to favour cannabis prohibition. As this article will examine, that is no longer the case.

It’s true that opinion polls used to favour prohibition. In 1969 only 13% of Americans believed that cannabis should be legal. Only 44% of Americans believed that cannabis should be legal as recently as 2009. By 2018, however, opinion polls now favour legalisation. 66% of Americans now support legal recreational cannabis along the lines of the Colorado model, and the trend line points sharply upwards.

If one goes back 100 years, most people thought that cannabis should be legal anyway, as its medicinal applications were obvious: cannabis prohibition is the experimental condition, and it has failed. So this sharp decrease in prohibitionist sentiment over recent years is really a return to the baseline condition of liberal cannabis sentiment.

The public did consent to the experiment with prohibition, this is true, but this was the result of a naive people believing the lies of politicians beholden to industries that saw cannabis as a competitor. Foremost among these were the timber, alcohol and pharmaceutical industries. Being the paid whores that they are, Western politicians happily told lies about how cannabis had no medicinal value and was a dangerous drug, because their sponsors profitted from it.

As a result of these decades of lies, the public has not been accurately informed. As a result of that, they could not make correct decisions. Because politicians have been lying to people for decades about cannabis, there has been a common perception about cannabis that has taken a lot of effort to correct. When the public are accurately informed, things are different.

If people are correctly informed about cannabis, with reference to science, evidence and reality, they almost always come down on the side of legalisation. There is simply no scientific evidence supporting any of the common arguments about cannabis causing violent murders, rapes and general madness. The mid-1990s repeal movement in California associated with Proposition 215 was possibly the first time that a proper public attempt to tell the truth about cannabis had ever been made, and in that instance they came down on the side of legalisation.

As mentioned above, a clear majority of Americans are now in favour of legal cannabis, and something similar can be observed in New Zealand. Although opinion polling about the upcoming cannabis referendum is rudimentary on account of that the actual referendum question is yet to be formulated, what little there is suggests that the pro-cannabis side is already ahead. Probably it will pull further ahead as more positive news comes in from American states that have legalised.

Other opinion polls, asking more specific questions, have returned similar results in New Zealand. A Drug Foundations survey conducted in July found that two-thirds of the country wanted some kind of change to the cannabis laws, although they were not given a clear distinction between legalisation and decriminalisation. It also found that the prohibitionist side was no longer winning the recreational cannabis debate.

The next generation of young people is heavily pro cannabis all over the West, as seen in Understanding New Zealand. McGlashan calculated that the correlation between being under 20 and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party was 0.41, whereas the correlation between being aged 65+ and voting for that party was -0.43. This means that the opponents to cannabis law reform are all dying off: after all, society advances one funeral at a time.

What this suggests is that the victory of cannabis law reform is inevitable. The fact is that the majority of anti-cannabis sentiment is held by brainwashed old people who are dying off. There is already a majority in favour of cannabis law reform everywhere, and this will only grow stronger as time progresses and old people who have been conditioned to hate cannabis users die.

Cannabis ought to be legal because a majority of people have now realised that the fears were grossly overblown and they want reform. Cannabis prohibition no longer has the support of the people, and support for it continues to fall. In a short number of years there will only be a remnant of cannabis prohibitionists left, and it might be better to put them out of their misery now.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Is An Established Crop

The War on Cannabis seems to be based on the idea that cannabis, if persecuted hard enough, could potentially be eradicated, so that no-one used it at all anymore. In reality, such a war is unwinnable, for a number of reasons. This essay will make the argument that cannabis ought to be legal on account of that it is an established crop.

One of the reasons why cannabis prohibition was doomed to failure was because cannabis has been used by people all around the world for thousands of years. Despite the best efforts of prohibitionists to eradicate all knowledge of cannabis cultivation and use, people remain aware of its medicinal properties. Cannabis has been illegal for almost a century, but its medical uses are reflections of the natural world, because the calming, soporific and therapeutic effects are universal to humans.

For this reason, demand will always exist for cannabis, no matter what the law says. Whether by underground chemists, criminals, shamans, botanical scientists, insomnia and nausea sufferers or simply by the curious, cannabis culture has been kept alive despite the massive efforts to eradicate it. It’s likely that it always will stay alive, on account of that there are so many people who think so positively of the drug.

Evidence that cannabis is an established crop can be seen from the vast number of popular cultural references to it. Films like Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and Pineapple Express base their entire plotlines around the audience understanding cannabis and how it works, and that’s without even mentioning Cheech and Chong. There are entire genres of music called things like “stoner rock” or “stoner metal”, and literary references to cannabis or its effects are legion.

This establishment is a physical fact as well as a cultural one. All around the country there is wild cannabis growing, and there are millions of seeds in possession of private growers, who are just waiting for the Government to get out of the way. In every town and city there are rings of people who share seeds, clones and buds. Hundreds of thousands of people have a medical condition that might be alleviated by cannabis, and tens of thousands of them are aware of the benefits of cannabis and are trying to inform the others.

This demand survived prohibition; it will always be there.

Perhaps the best way of measuring this demand is by measuring the size of the cannabis market. Most people in New Zealand don’t understand how big the cannabis market is. Last year, Colorado made $1,500 million worth of cannabis sales to a population roughly the same size as New Zealand, roughly $300 per person per year. Considering that this is after 90 years of adverse propaganda – in other words, 90 years of strong abnormalisation of cannabis use – $1.5 billion is a lot of money.

Even without sentiment, in the cold hard light of pure commerce, the argument exists for cannabis to be treated as a major industry simply on account of its size. If the industry is worth billions then it deserves a place at the table alongside other industries of similar size. There ought to be Members of Parliament willing to argue the corner of the cannabis industry, and the consumers served by that industry, like there are for the racing, alcohol, tobacco industries, among others.

Fighting cannabis, and trying to eradicate it from popular culture by means of prohibition, makes as much sense as fighting potatoes. All over the world it’s possible to find cannabis enthusiasts who are devoted to the promulgation of their chosen plant and the culture around it. None of these enthusiasts can understand cannabis prohibition – making a plant illegal is insane, however you look at it. They will keep cannabis culture going.

Ultimately, the desire of the people to use cannabis for recreation and for medicine has proven itself stronger than the ability of the ruling class to successfully bullshit the rest of the population into accepting prohibition. Use of the plant is so deeply entrenched in culture worldwide that attempts to get rid of it are futile. Cannabis is here to stay, and the law ought to reflect this.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: People Have A Right to Freedom

All of us take for granted that we are a free people, that we are not slaves and so have the right to autonomy and self-determination. The problem with this line of thinking is that is doesn’t survive scrutiny, especially once one asks why we’re not allowed to grow or to use cannabis. This article argues that cannabis ought to be legal for the reason that we are supposed to be a free people.

History shows that the ruling class and the masses are always in conflict over what freedoms that masses are allowed to exercise. Alexei Sayle in The Young Ones satirised the cruelty of the medival ruling class by having a peasant sentenced to death for “whistling on a Tuesday”. Although facing the court system for whistling on the wrong day might sound arbitrary, the fact is that it’s no more so than cannabis prohibition.

A person does not have to be a libertarian to agree that it is the individual that ultimately has the right to decide what goes into their body. If that person’s body is their own private property, then it is that person who decides what goes into it and what doesn’t. If that person’s body is not their own private property, then whose property is it? If the answer is not their own, then they are a slave.

It doesn’t matter if the answer is “the nation” or “the community” because the individual has no way of knowing if the people who claim to be making decisions on behalf of these entities actually are. The vast majority of people can agree that conscription is immoral because it is effectively the Government stating that they own your body, even if you object. If the Government owning your body is immoral in that instance, it is so in other instances.

The argument for freedom is essentially an argument against slavery. What we now call chattel slavery is when the will of a person is entirely subjected to and subjugated by the will of another. If you are a slave, then that other person decides what goes into your body and what does not. This state of subjugation is considered so inhumanly cruel that it is now illegal anywhere that has pretensions to be civilised.

We are forced to ask ourselves, however: is not the prohibition of cannabis, such that if a person presumes to be free enough to grow a cannabis plant in a bucket of dirt then they go to prison for years, in the same category of brutal and unjustified control of another person as chattel slavery?

If we can all agree that freedom entails the right to grow and consume medicinal plants, particularly when neither activity causes harm to anyone, then on what grounds does the Government believe that it has the right to restrict this freedom?

Freedom means freedom. Freedom doesn’t mean “You’re free to do what you like except for things on this list of arbitrary and inhumane restrictions, because if you do anything on this list you go in a cage”.

From the perspective of a cannabis enthusiast, the law prohibiting cannabis is immensely frustrating. It is immensely frustrating to desire cannabis but to not be able to use it, because some idiots in Parliament decided that they had the right to decide what goes into your body and not you. This frustration leads to a deep sense of humiliation – sometimes it seems like the main reason for cannabis prohibition is just to rub our faces in it.

Without freedom, depression, low self-esteem and despair follow naturally. It’s only natural to lose the will to live when politicians are the ones that decide what goes into your body, because this is a form of authoritarianism, which doesn’t work for everyone. The natural place for authoritarian conduct is between master and slave, or between farmer and livestock – it’s not natural for humans to conduct relations between each other on such a level, and the more educated and sophisticated a people are, the less well it works.

There might have been a place for authoritarianism in drug policy a century ago, back when the vast majority of people were illiterate and incapable of rationally forming their own opinions. In such a primitive state, people could not have been expected to handle the complexity of the cannabis issue, and therefore could not have been expected to think rationally about it.

In 2018, people can simply go on the Internet to find as much information about cannabis as they like. We’re able to research the medicinal effects of cannabis, and we’re able to research the consequences of legalising cannabis in other places. Every one of us has access to a hundred times more information about cannabis than even Government ministers had as little as ten years ago. We all know that legal restrictions in this area are unreasonable.

Ultimately, cannabis should be legal for people to use because people have the right to be free. There is no higher authority than the individual when it comes to deciding what can and what cannot go into the body of that individual. This means that the law prohibiting this ought to be repealed on the grounds that it is immoral and an unreasonable restriction of our natural right to freedom.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

One Year of Rule by the Left Wing of the Capitalist Party: A Retrospective

The Labour faction of the Capitalist Party came to power at the end of 2017, taking over from the National faction of the Capitalist Party after that year’s general election. Even though everyone knew that the Capitalist Party would still be in charge, many believed that the ascendancy of the Labour faction would mean a new deal for the beleaguered Kiwi population. As this essay will recount, they proceeded to piss in the faces of the New Zealand working class in at least four major ways.

Despite a promise to not sign the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Labour Government did so to much fanfare on the 9th March. Thousands of people marched against the TPPA in 2016, in New Zealand’s largest protests in recent years. Then Labour Leader Andrew Little was quoted at the time as saying that “Labour was opposed to the TPPA because compromises to New Zealand’s sovereignty were not justified by the ‘meagre economic gains’.”

Most people in the New Zealand working class oppose such trade agreements because neoliberalism makes it easier for capital to bid down their wages. The Capitalist Party, on the other hand, represents major moneyed interests, and they welcome such trade agreements because they shift the power equation even further away from labour and even further towards capital. Therefore, the Labour wing of the Capitalist Party is happy to see the wages of New Zealand workers fall, and they happily pissed in the faces of Kiwi workers by signing the TPPA.

Related to this betrayal was a second face-pissing, when the Labour Government raised the refugee quota to 1,500. It’s well known that these people won’t be dumped in neighbourhoods where the rich live. The sex, violence and property crimes that they bring in their wake will not affect the wealthy, who live far away from the ghettos. It is the working-class suburbs that will be forced to absorb these human crime waves, not the rich suburbs in which Labour and Green Party MPs live.

Those wealthy will, however, benefit from the downward pressure that refugees have on wages. The greater the national pool of cheap labour, the lower wages will fall, therefore the more profitable local capitalist enterprises become. If the Labour Party represented the working class, they would not have raised the refugee quota – this would have had the effect of restricting the inflow of cheap labour and thereby creating upward pressure on wages.

The lying about legalising medicinal cannabis comprises the third major display of disrespect on the part of the Labour Party towards the New Zealand working class over the past year. Poor people in New Zealand are desperate for a substance that can help ease the pain of living in this failed society, but which doesn’t have the terrible side-effects of alcohol or opiates. The Labour Party have refused to budge so much as an inch on this issue, acceding only to allowing people who are dying an extra defence in court against a cannabis possession charge.

Although a clear majority of New Zealanders want some kind of cannabis law reform, and although outlets like VJM Publishing have been arguing in favour of cannabis law reform for years (most seriously from 2012, with the publication of our Cannabis Activist’s Handbook), the Labour Party had eight MPs that voted against Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill, which would have allowed sick Kiwis to grow a medicine at home.

A fourth face-pissing, delivered today, was Labour’s plan to ban vaping. Predictably, the person pushing it – Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa – was one of the eight backstabbing scum in the Labour caucus who voted against Swarbrick’s bill. It seems that authoritarianism against working class practices are entirely acceptable for the Labour Party.

The reason for the vaping ban is not because of health reasons – vaping has led to many people, particularly working-class people, quitting tobacco smoking. The reason for it is that there is no national vape juice producers’ or vape manufacturers’ association to bribe the Capitalist Party, therefore the interests of the tobacco manufacturers come foremost. Unless you are in control of a large amount of money, the New Zealand Capitalist Party will not pass laws in your favour, and will be more than happy to pass laws to your disfavour if a large moneyed interest tells them to.

All this amounts to a lot of disrespect shown by the Labour Party towards New Zealand’s working class. The way that one can tell that the Labour Party is nothing more than the major left-wing faction of the Capitalist Party is because they have not acted in the favour of the New Zealand working class over their one year in charge. New Zealand’s capitalist class, on the other hand, have benefit greatly from the TPPA, from the cheap labour of “refugees”, and from retarding cannabis law reform and prohibiting vaping for the sake of of their investments in alcohol producers and pharmaceutical companies.

In summary, the past year of rule by the left wing of the Capitalist Party has gone much like the preceding nine years of rule by the right wing of the Capitalist Party. The Labour Party has, in the vast bulk of instances, taken measures that benefit wealthy capitalist interests at the expense of the New Zealand population, in particular the local working class.

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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).

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Does Not Cause Schizophrenia

One of the most common pieces of folk wisdom regarding cannabis is that it causes schizophrenia. For some reason, the one thing that every muggle seems to know about cannabis is that, if you smoke too much of it, you go crazy. Like almost everything else that muggles think they know about cannabis, this factoid is bollocks, as this examination will show.

The reason why it is commonly believed that cannabis causes schizophrenia is because of the large number of schizophrenics who smoke cannabis. It is believed that up to 25% of schizophrenics have a “cannabis use disorder”, and there is certainly a strong association between the two, but it isn’t because cannabis causes psychosis.

Most schizophrenics could have told you many years ago (as we did in the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook) that cannabis is medicinal for people with mental illnesses. There is currently much interest in the use of CBD (cannabidiol) medicine in the treatment of psychosis. This is also mentioned here. A Schizophrenia Bulletin article stated that “Interest in the therapeutic potential of CBD stemmed from evidence that it has broadly opposite effects to that of THC.”

The most recent evidence suggests that cannabidiol has the opposite effect of THC in many ways. CBD appears to reduce positive symptoms (e.g. hallucinations) in schizophrenics, which again testifies to its medicinal qualities. It doesn’t cause them – indeed, “even high doses of oral CBD do not cause psychological, psychomotor, cognitive, or physical effects that are characteristic for THC.”

This recent research suggests that some of the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, particularly CBD, have a calming and soothing effect. This effect is not necessarily limited to people with mental illnesses, but for people with mental illnesses this calming and soothing effect is certainly medicinal. Once the medicinal benefits of CBD are understood, it becomes obvious that much of the reason for the association between psychosis and cannabis is because psychotics find that ingesting the CBD in cannabis alleviates some of the suffering that comes with psychosis.

This study found that it was much more likely that predictors of schizophrenia led to cannabis use than that cannabis use led to schizophrenia; in other words, underlying factors that tended to cause schizophrenia also tended to cause cannabis use. Of some interest is that schizophrenia itself is a predictor of future cannabis use, which supports the idea that the nature of the suffering caused by the condition happens to be alleviated by cannabis. Indeed, cannabis use itself is a heritable trait.

Supporting this was a study that found that “cannabis use was genetically correlated with a wide range of behaviors and personality traits, such as alcohol use and dependence, increased risk taking, and decreased conscientiousness, as well as a variety of mental health disorders.”

So there is mounting evidence that underlying psychological factors explain much of the cannabis-psychosis connection. It’s known that genes heavily influence many personality traits, such as openness and degree of neophilia/neophobia, and it’s likely that such qualities lead naturally to both schizophrenia and to cannabis use. Personality characteristics that correlate with developing schizophrenia also correlate with future cannabis use.

Yet another study found that executive function in schizophrenics was superior if they were cannabis users. Examples of executive function are problem solving, working memory and cognitive flexibility. This ties in with the argument, made at length elsewhere (such as here), that the use of cannabis keeps the mind young and plastic. This may be especially true in the case of schizophrenics because of possible neurodegenerative effects of schizophrenia.

Many schizophrenics are able to tell you that cannabis grants the ability to set aside certain recurring thought patterns, particularly those of the brooding or obsessive variety. It is often possible to get stuck in thought loops and ruminate if one does not have a substance that facilitates novel and original thought patterns. Something about the nature of schizophrenia makes brooding and obsessive thoughts more likely, and so it’s apparent that a substance with the effects mentioned in the studies above will be of benefit to schizophrenics, and that this will cause them to use it more.

So the reality is that cannabis does not cause schizophrenia, but that factors associated with schizophrenia are also associated with cannabis use, and these underlying reasons are why schizophrenics use so much cannabis. In particular, a certain kind of mind has qualities that make then prone to both developing a cannabis habit and developing schizophrenia. We can guess at what some of these qualities are: no doubt openness and creativity are at the forefront, as is an early childhood marked by abuse and neglect.

Most crucially, it’s now more apparent than ever that cannabidiol is highly medicinal for people with schizophrenia. This is the main reason for the association between schizophrenia and cannabis use – using cannabis brings relief from the suffering that comes with conditions like schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia have long known this, which is why they continue to use it at high rates despite intense discouragement from doctors and politicians.

Not only is the argument that cannabis causes schizophrenia false, but the opposite is true. Elements of the cannabis plant act as anti-psychotics that alleviate the symptoms of psychotic disorders. Cannabis should be made legal so that those who benefit from the anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties of, e.g., cannabidiol, can get access to it for the sake of alleviating the suffering associated with their condition. This is especially true for schizophrenics, who seem to benefit greatly from CBD medicine.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

Bob McCoskrie Is An Absolute Fuckwit

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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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).

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Is Not A Gateway Drug

A common argument for cannabis prohibition asserts that cannabis is a gateway drug, in that using it inevitably leads people to using harder and harder drugs. The idea is that we need to keep cannabis illegal so as to keep people off the pathway that leads people onto truly destructive substances. As this article will examine, there is a modicum of truth to the gateway effect, but not in the way it’s usually presented.

The usual way that the gateway drug theory is portrayed is as follows. An individual tries cannabis for the first time, and experiences a cannabis high. This is a pleasurable sense of peace and euphoria that the user decides they want to have again. So they try cannabis again, and have a good time again. So they use it some more, and soon find that they need more and more of it to get the same level of hit.

Eventually the user is addicted to cannabis. After a while, cannabis is no longer able to do the job. At this point the drug user naturally comes to seek out harder drugs, such as methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, in the hope of getting a chance to relive the original amazing high that cannabis gave them. For some reason, the idea that cannabis use leads to heroin use is particularly prevalent in some circles, especially among the elderly (which reveals that the genesis of the gateway drug theory is in old-fashioned superstition).

The logic is that cannabis prohibition should prevent people from getting exposed to that initial cannabis high, by way of making the substance harder to get hold of. The harder it is to get hold of, the fewer people get addicted, and so the fewer people who seek out really hard and destructive drugs. Therefore, cannabis prohibition protects people from the harmful effects of, for example, methamphetamine or heroin addiction.

The reality is that the gateway effect is a phenomenon that is caused entirely by cannabis prohibition, and which would mostly disappear if there was cannabis law reform, except for in the case of people who have a deathwish.

Many drugs are illegal. Of those, cannabis is particularly badly suited to serving as a contraband substance. It has a strong smell, is bulky and doesn’t generate much raw profit if one considers how much time and expense goes into cultivating, transporting and storing it. Most other contraband substances are much easier to deal with and more profitable, especially those of the powdery kind.

For this reason, many unscrupulous cannabis dealers use cannabis as a kind of lure, by which customers can be induced to buy more profitable (and/or addictive) substances. It’s common in New Zealand for cannabis dealers to suddenly “run out” of cannabis when a particular customer comes around, only to offer a hit of methamphetamine by way of compensation. If the customer decides that they do like it (and this is very common), the dealer is right there to sell them a point bag.

When the would-be cannabis user is then hooked on methamphetamine, they are much more profitable than they would have been if the only other option was to sell them an ounce of weed every two weeks or so. A person who is into methamphetamine is able to burn through thousands of dollars in a week. A dealer can potentially make twenty times as much money selling methamphetamine to a person than they could selling cannabis.

So the idea that cannabis is a gateway drug is untrue. There is such a thing as the gateway effect, but this only exists because of prohibition, in particular because of the opportunity that prohibition creates for drug dealers to get naive cannabis-seeking customers hooked on harder drugs. Far from being a gateway drug which leads to people recklessly doing coke, crack, meth, smack and anything else they can find in search of a buzz, cannabis has shown promise as an exit drug for conditions like heroin addiction and even alcoholism.

If cannabis was legal, people who want to use it could simply go to a cannabis cafe or cannabis store, buy their sativa or indica as desired, and then go home without being exposed to methamphetamine or heroin or anything else. A clerk at a cannabis store is no more likely to offer the customers methamphetamine than a bartender would. After all, they already have a steady and secure income through selling a legal drug to a set market, so why would they want to screw that up?

The truth is that cannabis prohibition forces people into the arms of criminals. This is the true causal origin of the gateway effect. Repealing cannabis prohibition would mean that the people who want to buy cannabis don’t need to encounter criminals in order to so, and consequently never get exposed to a dealer offering to sell them a truly destructive drug.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Raises Prices But Also Raises Incentive to Supply

One of the most common arguments for cannabis prohibition is a microeconomic one. The idea is that making cannabis illegal makes it more expensive, which means less people can afford to use it, which means the harmful effects of cannabis use are minimised. The logic is that people won’t be able to afford to harm themselves. As this article will show, this argument, common though it is, is mistaken.

If one assumes that cannabis use is inherently harmful, then one appears to have a clear-cut case for reducing the amount of suffering in the world by making it illegal (that cannabis is not inherently harmful is another argument, and will not be considered here). Making it illegal means that only the black market is able to supply it, which means that the end user has to pay a risk premium that takes into account the cost of Police harassment of the cannabis grower, and the inefficiencies that this harassment introduces into the growing process.

This risk premium makes cannabis more expensive, because the end user has to pay for all of the product confiscated by Police, or stolen by other criminal actors, or which was never grown because the size of the grow room was limited by the need to keep it clandestine. All of these factors serve to drive the price of cannabis up, which – according to the law of supply and demand – serves to reduce cannabis use.

The mathematics checks out. However, the core economic argument that cannabis prohibition reduces harm by disincentivising people from buying cannabis falls down, for a number of reasons.

It is true that prices fall sharply when cannabis becomes legal. The average price of an ounce in Colorado is NZD259, which means that it has fallen almost by half since legalisation took place. Websites that track the price of cannabis across various American states show that the price has fallen as low as NZD100 an ounce in places like Washington, where it is both legal and where the ability to supply is relatively unconstrained.

It isn’t true that this fall in prices leads to more use. Surveys in Washington have found that teen rates of cannabis use remained the same after cannabis legalisation. It is also noteworthy that teen rates of cannabis use in Holland are unremarkable in any sense. These surveys reveal that cannabis prohibition does not deter use.

In any case, the most important question to be asked about the high prices of cannabis caused by prohibition is this: who is getting all the money? In the same way that alcohol prohibition made Al Capone and his fellow Chicago gangsters rich, so too does cannabis prohibition funnel consumer wealth into the hands of the black market. This inevitably means criminal gangs, most of whom are deeply unpleasant people who are using the money to fund enterprises that genuinely do cause mass human suffering.

Once criminal gangs start getting involved in the cannabis trade, it means that there is going to be a lot more violence than if they weren’t involved. The black market means fighting for drug turf, which means intimidating other members of the black market away from certain territories through violence and the threat of violence. It means murders, kidnappings, gun violence, and all manner of other low-rent behaviours that lower everyone’s quality of life.

High cannabis prices incentivise all of this. The higher the cannabis prices are, the stronger the pull of the black market for cannabis on the various shady operators out there. Not only that, but the higher the stakes, the more ruthlessly people are willing to behave in order to secure a share of the profits. No-one is going to kill anyone else over the right to sell cannabis for $75 an ounce.

So the fact is that, in the final analysis, the economic equation balances out. The higher the price of cannabis, the lower the demand, true – but the higher the price, the higher the incentive to get into the black market opportunities for cannabis. If you are a criminal, and you don’t want to work, then growing some cannabis to sell to 15-year olds at $400 an ounce seems like an attractive proposition. If those 15-year olds are happy to wait until they’re 18 to buy it legally at $150 an ounce, well then you’re shit out of luck.

Cheap, legal cannabis would take a large slice of the black market, and render all criminal action in that slice uneconomic. This has several advantages, the foremost of which is that criminals can’t make as much money out of cannabis as before and therefore do not dominate the market. Another advantage is that people will be consuming a much higher grade of cannabis once it’s grown by professional horticulturalists and not gang members, and they will be able to do so more safely.

Cannabis ought to be made legal in order to disincentivise criminal actors from moving into the black market for it. Cheap, mass-produced, high-quality cannabis will take away the profit from what is currently a black market enterprise, which will have the effect of removing most of the criminal element from the cannabis trade. This will have the overall effect of reducing crime and suffering, because the criminal element causes more suffering than is prevented by cannabis being too expensive for some people to harm themselves with.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Does Not Lead to Crime

One of the reasons offered by prohibitionists for keeping cannabis illegal is that that cannabis leads to crime, by way of some quality inherent to itself. This is a favourite reason trotted out by people whose livelihoods are dependent on government funding for cannabis prohibition, people who are often pigs at the trough in more than one sense. The truth is not only that cannabis is not criminogenic by itself, but that cannabis prohibition is what has caused criminal behaviour to become related to the substance.

One common line of horseshit that people often hear with regard to cannabis use is that it warps people’s brains and makes them impulsive, and thereby criminal. By means of some nebulous kind of brain damage, people who use cannabis lose their ability to control their own inner malice and naturally come to start abusing themselves and other people, both mentally and physically. They come to commit crimes of opportunity when they would normally have resisted the impulse to do so.

Another stupidity is that cannabis addiction leads to stealing to service the cost of the addiction. Confusing cannabis users with the worst kind of crack or heroin user, this stereotype has it that legal cannabis would lead to a large number of people becoming addicted to it and then stealing from other people to get the money to buy more cannabis. Ignoring the fact that finding a dealer who has a proper supply is many times harder than getting enough money to buy the weed in the first place, this idea suggests that prohibition is good because it leads to fewer burglaries and muggings.

The fact is that neither of these glib just-so stories is true.

There is indeed, a link between cannabis and crime, and it comes from the criminal associations that have to be made in order to maintain a cannabis supply. Because cannabis is illegal, the only people that can supply it regularly are professional criminals. So a person who has a need for medicinal cannabis has to deal with professional criminals on account of that they are forbidden by law to deal with a pharmacist.

It is true that, when a person who needs a regular supply of medicinal cannabis comes into contact with a professional criminal, this can lead to crime. What is also true is that this criminogenic effect is a consequence of cannabis prohibition, and has nothing to do with the nature of cannabis itself. The professional criminal might expose the cannabis user to other drugs, or to illegal firearms, or to stolen goods, or even to blackmail. This is a result of the fact that only criminals deal in cannabis when it’s illegal.

Cannabis doesn’t make people stab and rob other people by itself. Going without cannabis, much like going without other psychiatric medicines, mostly just puts people in shitty moods and carries a risk of psychosis. But if you’re the sort of person that does stab and rob people, then its almost a certainty that either you are involved with cannabis or that you move in the same circles as someone who does.

So it’s true that there is an association between cannabis and crime. But this association can be explained by the fact that both are illegal, rather than that involvement with cannabis inherently causes criminal conduct. In places where cannabis is legal, as it (sort of) has been in the Netherlands for some decades now, people who want small amounts of cannabis – even if they want it regularly – can get it without coming into contact with the criminal underworld.

As a result, cannabis does not lead to exposure to harmful criminal activity in places where cannabis is legal at the same rate as it does in places where it is illegal.

Because of all this, we can state that the truth is really close to the opposite of what’s commonly said. A Forbes article from earlier this year showed that crime had fallen in Mexican states that border America, on account of that cannabis law reform had taken the cannabis trade away from the black market. Homicides related to the drug trade were believed to have fallen 41% because of cannabis law reform, as incidents of turf wars over illegal cannabis sales essentially vanished.

These statistics reveal a couple of things. Not only does cannabis not inherently lead to crime, but cannabis prohibition itself inherently leads to crime. Prohibiting cannabis is to move it onto the black market, which is to ensure that organised crime will fight over territory and distribution profits. Once there are large, black market profits to be made in the trade of an illicit substance, ensuing violence is all but guaranteed.

The laws against cannabis prohibition can only be supported if a person understands nothing of the crime wave that followed in the wake of alcohol prohibition. Cannabis prohibition takes all the legitimate demand for the substance – and the demand for it is legitimate, not “drug addiction” – then gifts all of that demand to the black market, who are the only people willing to supply it. This means that it’s prohibition itself that causes the crime that is associated with cannabis, and not the cannabis itself.

Cannabis law reform is necessary so that people who want to engage in the cannabis trade are not exposed to the criminal underworld. This will reduce crime rates by keeping citizens who would otherwise be law-abiding away from the sort of professional criminal who might take advantage of them, or who might bring their criminal influence into other areas of the cannabis user’s life.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Meets the Industrial Needs of This Century

For better or worse, humans will always use drugs to help them cope with the demands placed on them by the daily need to survive. Whether to help focus, relax, kill pain or to see beyond, people will always find reasons to want to change their perceptions so as to best meet the demands placed on them. This article will argue that cannabis law reform is superior to prohibition when it comes to meeting the industrial demands of our time.

During the Age of Exploration, the drug of choice was alcohol, usually rum in particular. Rum had a high alcohol volume and was easy to keep. For men spending months or years at sea in ships, rum offered the best bang for the buck. Wherever European sailors took harbour, the rum trade followed. Names like Port Royal and Kororareka became synonymous with drunken debauchery and destruction.

In the first half of the 20th century, we ran out of places to explore and started killing each other over what had been discovered. This required a combination of drugs, and these – because of the necessities of wartime – were indulged in without shame or sanction. Alcohol was still used to a great extent, particularly for its ability to give men the courage to face enemy gunfire, but use of opiates and tobacco were also widespread, the former on account of its use in physical medicine and the latter on account of its use in psychological medicine.

In the second half of the 20th century, the focus shifted from killing the enemies of liberal capitalism to making money. During this time, people were mostly tasked with social office work. This required more tobacco, but also more caffeine. It was here when the idea of becoming “caffeinated” to deal with the pressures of the day came from. The idea was that the buzz from caffeine would make the inherently safe and secure office jobs less boring.

So far this century, a lot of this work has become antisocial. This has necessitated the rise of caffeine, in order to concentrate for longer periods of time despite low levels of stimulation. This rise has been aided by the increasing unfashionability of tobacco smoking, so that caffeine has now become the go-to drug for anyone wanting more yang energy.

It’s not easy to forecast the precise details of the future, but if one understands the basics of a subject it’s possible to forecast general trends. What seems apparent, in the case of the Western World, is that cannabis has come to replace some of these other drugs as the one that best helps people meet the demands of the workplace, and will continue to do so.

Because of automation, it’s no longer as important for the workforce to be attentive, alert and focused. This is still important for certain roles, but those roles have become an ever-diminishing proportion of the workplace. The roles that have become an ever-increasing proportion of the workplace are those in the creative professions, and the demands of these roles are compatible with cannabis use.

It’s widely known and accepted that much of the world’s production of quality music is made by people on drugs, and this is true to a lesser extent of literature as well. Cannabis (especially cannabis sativa) helps with the process of creativity by breaking down old conditioned pathways of thought and replacing them with novel ideas. This has made it a favourite substance of people in many creative occupations – not just music and writing but also design, cuisine, hospitality and programming.

In order to meet these industrial needs, we will not only need to legalise cannabis, but to go further. At a minimum, cannabis will need to become legal so that people who need to use it for the sake of their work can do so. For the sake of creative occupations, it will need to be gently encouraged in the workplace in the same way that coffee is encouraged in offices, and tobacco is encouraged in factories, already now.

The world is changing faster and faster, and as a result of this people find themselves confronted with original situations ever more frequently. These original situations demand original ways of thinking. The desirable qualities for employees of the future will be flexibility, originality and breadth of thought, instead of the obsessive focus and repetition that has characterised the workplaces of the past. These qualities are well enhanced by cannabis, which makes it a good choice for the workplace of the future.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Reform Doesn’t Mean Stoned Workers

One of the most hysterical arguments against cannabis law reform is that it will lead to a spate of workers coming to work stoned. This will be a disaster, we are breathlessly told, because some of these intoxicated workers are responsible for other people’s well-being. As this article will examine, such fears are not grounded in reality.

The reasoning seems to be that the nation’s workforce cannot handle the temptation of easy access to cannabis, and will inevitably come to start using it all day in the nature of severe drug addicts, such as before work. Images of surgeons giggling maniacally while slicing arteries open are thrown about by pants-pissing old conservatives, who seem to think of cannabis users akin to a horde of zombies.

This argument is false in at least three major ways.

In the first case, people already have access to plenty of legal recreational drugs and choose not to use them. There are a number of industrial jobs that people can’t safely do while drunk, and there are a number of customer services roles that can’t adequately be performed while stinking of tobacco smoke. In the vast majority of situations, employees in either of these roles don’t partake in alcohol or tobacco before work.

If one thinks rationally about the idea, there’s no reason to think that legal cannabis would be any different. The case of surgeon is especially ridiculous – surgeon is a professional occupation. The type of person who works in this profession is hardly the sort of person who would experiment with recreational drugs before they go to work anyway.

In the second case, the availability of swab tests that can test for actual cannabis intoxication means that a blanket ban on cannabis is unnecessary. There may have once been a point in such a blanket ban, on account of that there was otherwise no way of telling if a person was dangerously affected by a cannabis high. But accurate swab tests mean that it is no longer necessary to take urine samples (if it ever was).

Most importantly, legal cannabis does not in any sense mean that employers will lose the right to send home workers who are dangerously high. Workers who are intoxicated on any substance, legal or otherwise, are first and foremost a safety risk to other workers and to themselves. So if an employee comes to work stoned, the employer has every right to send them home on the grounds that they are in no state to discharge their duties.

In the third case, the vast majority of cases of cannabis intoxication are immaterial to the job at hand. This is clearly true if one considers that a large number of people who work in roles where attentiveness is paramount are on sedatives, anti-histamines or psychiatric drugs of some kind, and that this is nonetheless acceptable to their employers, who do not drug test them for those substances.

Psychiatric drugs such as Olanzapine have been shown to increase the chance of fatal car accidents, and benzodiazepines are even worse. Many people drive while sleepy, and many elderly people are significantly more dangerous behind the wheel than the average driver. If all of these risks come within the bounds of acceptability, then a small amount of cannabis in the system is acceptable as well.

The idea that cannabis law reform would inevitably lead to masses of stoned workers is the kind of overblown hysteria that is typical of cannabis prohibitionists. There are at least three major reasons to think that reform would not impact the safety profile of the workforce. Repealing cannabis prohibition would bring protocol about workplace safety back to sanity and logic.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Governments Shouldn’t Conduct Wars Against Their Own People

The War on Drugs is a war that governments of the world fight against their own people, supposedly to protect people from the harmful effects of these substances. In the vast majority of cases. such governmental measures cause more harm than they solve. This essay will argue that cannabis prohibition is necessary because it is immoral for a government to conduct a war against their own people without their consent.

The War on Drugs was ramped up to full aggression by Richard Nixon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although the majority of recreational drugs were already illegal, the enforcement of them was not brutal until Nixon entered the scene. With the increase in aggressive drug law enforcement came an increase in the incarceration rate of Americans – now four times higher than it was in 1972, even when adjusted for the increase in population.

Nixon’s former domestic policy chief, John Ehrlichman, is quoted in a Harper magazine interview saying “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.” This quote encapsulates the entire logic of the War on Drugs.

The truth about the War on Drugs is that governments don’t really fight this war against drugs, they fight them against their own people who use drugs. The War on Drugs is really a war against their own people.

In particular, the War on Drugs is a war against those the ruling classes want to destroy. As is clear from the Ehrlichman quote above, the ruling party is not representative of the people. They have their particular enemies, and in the case of the Military-Industrial Complex that profits immensely from defence contracts and from endless war, peaceniks are the enemy.

Likewise for blacks: the Prison-Industrial Complex demands a steady supply of slave workers to labour in prisons. This prison labour is immensely profitable for the prison owners, who occupy the same role as the slave plantation owners of the antebellum American South. So a draconian crackdown on drugs that were known to be used heavily by blacks had the calculated effect of drawing large numbers of them into the prison system.

The reason why the security services are divided into the Police and the Army is because the Army is for fighting wars, and the Police for keeping the peace. When the Government sets the Army onto the people, it’s usually a sign that the Government is rotten to the core and probably not far from collapse. So when the Police are also fighting a war against the people on behalf of the Government, it’s a very, very bad sign.

Everyone knows that the Government isn’t really a protective, benevolent force. Everyone knows that Western governments are not representatives of their people, but rather of whatever corporate interests have declared themselves to have a stake in the country. The point is, this should not be accepted, and governments should never act to the detriment of their own people for the sake of corporate profits.

Conducting a War on Drugs makes it possible for the ruling classes to divide and conquer the people, by way of subjecting some of them to harsh legal punishment and not others. This is a grossly anti-democratic phenomenon, and should not be allowed.

Cannabis prohibition should be repealed because the Government should not fight a war against its own people. The War on Drugs is a war that the Government fights against the same people that the Government is supposed to represent and protect. It’s time for a ceasefire.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis is a Tool For Personal Growth

The cannabis high can teach a person a lot about themselves that they didn’t already know. It brings up a range of different emotions, and some of those emotions provide the sort of challenges that lead to healthy personal growth. This article discusses the idea that cannabis ought to be legal for its benefits as a tool for personal growth.

Personal growth can occur in a number of areas. For those who have suffered previous life trauma, it’s common that personal and emotional development stalls at the stage where the trauma occurred. Heavy physical, sexual or emotional abuse can lead to impulsive, neglectful, destructive behaviour, and getting past such conditioned behaviours is not easy.

The main use of cannabis for psychotherapy might lie in its ability to induce a state of relaxation and fearlessness. In that state, it’s possible to revisit earlier traumas and to reinterpret them. Traumatic events tend to leave the impression that they were more important than they really were, which can lead to them making a change to behaviour that outweighs any learning value the experience may have had.

A person may have become conditioned to react angrily or violently when confronted with a certain emotion or stimulus, when they really shouldn’t. In order to correct this, psychotherapy seeks to revisit the traumatic event and recondition the patient to not react with anxiety when they recall it. This has the effect of settling the psychological tension that had existed ever since the trauma.

Cannabis is useful for its deconditioning effects – although this is also one of the reasons behind why it has been illegal. One man’s psychological damage is another man’s asset, and the brutal learned helplessness that people come to suffer as a result of early schooling tends to make them more amenable to instruction from their overlords in the workplace. Those overlords, therefore, do not want people to decondition themselves, especially if it also makes them free.

Probably the most effective use of cannabis, however, lies in its ability to cause the user to have original thoughts that could not have been generated by any other method. Cannabis has long been associated with creative industries and endeavours, especially music and writing. It does this by preventing repetitive thoughts from occurring, leaving mental space for ideas inspired by the environment.

There are several people whose minds are limited on account of the low range of stimuli they have encountered over the course of their lives. Many of these people, particularly, have been dumped in front of a screen by a parent early in their lives and know little of the outside world or of other people. They have essentially been programmed to accept Disneyland as their reality.

People like this can bring themselves a new lease on life by using cannabis, and allowing themselves to explore vistas of the mind that were previously shut off. As users will attest, entire realms of new thought can open up when one is under the influence of cannabis: all sorts of strange, wonderful and unsettling ideas seem to arise as if from a parallel dimension that one could not perceive until just now.

Related to this, and as mentioned in a previous section, cannabis is a religious and spiritual sacrament. This entails that many people have used it as a tool for spiritual growth.

There is a reason why hippies are associated with terrifying insights into the nature of death, consciousness and reality as well as cannabis – they have seen beyond. Cannabis use can lead to spiritual growth in the same way that meditation does. By way of breaking one’s usual patterns of paying mental attention to petty things, one frees up mental space for new and original thoughts to arise, perhaps from long-suppressed places.

On a darker level, the unpleasant and paranoid aspects of the cannabis experience can lead to personal growth in a grim, meathook sense. Many people have avoided ever really thinking about the fact that they’re going to die, thanks to all the conditioned patterns that come with living an everyday life. So when a person does, perhaps for the first time ever, it’s common for them to feel extremely challenged by it.

Cannabis law reform ought to happen so that cannabis can be used as a tool for personal growth. There are both therapeutic, recreational and spiritual benefits that cannot be explored under prohibition.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Is A Religious And Spiritual Sacrament

We are supposed to have freedom of religion in the West, but in practice this only applies to certain favoured religions, in particular Abrahamism and its derivatives. Other religious traditions, particularly those that employ psychoactives as part of their rituals, are effectively discriminated against by the War on Drugs. This article will discuss the established tradition of cannabis use as a religious and spiritual sacrament.

The Indo-European peoples have been using cannabis as a religious and spiritual sacrament for thousands of years.

Cannabis is mentioned in Indian texts going back to 1,000 B.C., primarily for its use as a medicine, but also for its purported ability to facilitate contact with the divine. There is an age-old tradition in India of weed-smoking holy men known as sadhus. These are ascetics who have renounced worldly wealth and pleasure, and who use cannabis to get into touch with Shiva. Among sadhus, use of cannabis is especially popular when meditating, for the moments of tranquillity and serenity that it is capable of bringing.

The Nepalese smoke it publicly and ceremonially during the festival of Maha Shivaratri. The enlightenment brought about from the cannabis high is said to represent the coming-to-awareness of the first guru in the world. It is said that it was at this moment that the consciousness of the first guru transcended the material and the illusion of space and time, and the cannabis high is intended to replicate this.

In ancient China, cannabis was used by holy men in healing and early magical rituals. Early Taoist shamans systematically experimented with the ritual use of cannabis, with some declaring that smoking it was as good as climbing into the mountains for those who were physically unable. Their traditions began with burning cannabis as incense for the sake of smoking out demons and evil spirits, and soon evolved into inhaling cannabis for the sake of drawing in good energy from God.

Cannabis was also used by the Scythians in a ritualistic form that amounting to the hot-boxing of small smoke tents. The participants would gather inside these tents as part of funerary rites and cast buds onto superheated rocks, causing them to burn and to fill the tent with cannabis smoke. The change in consciousness brought about by these rituals were considered to bring the participant into contact with the spirits of the dead.

From there, it spread to Germany, and from there to Britain and Scandinavia. The Vikings came to associate its aphrodisiac effects with the fertility goddess Freya, and spring festivals sometimes involved the ritual consumption of cannabis. Viking herbalists were also aware of the pain-killing properties of cannabis, and they appear to have cultivated it in Southern Norway since 650 A.D. Evidence suggests that at least some of this cannabis was cultivated for ritualistic and shamanic purposes.

Therefore, cannabis use has been part of our natural spiritual traditions for thousands of years. The state of cannabis prohibition brought about by Abrahamism is an obscenity, the kind that comes from such false doctrines. It is not right for us Westerners to live in a state of cannabis prohibition, because it separates us from our natural connection to the divine, replacing it with a doctrine of women-hatred, gay-hatred, genital mutilation and ignorance.

Many modern people could tell you that cannabis use is still part of our natural spiritual traditions. It is the Western subcultures that smoke cannabis who are most likely to reject the obsession with materialism that has captured our culture. After all, the spiritual effect of cannabis comes from its ability to separate the user from the material. By inducing a state of physical and emotional calm, consciousness focuses instead on the spiritual. By pacifying the user’s base physical desires, they can concentrate on a form of living that pays homage to God.

Rastafarians say of cannabis that “The herb is the key to new understanding of the self, the universe, and God. It is the vehicle to cosmic consciousness”. Many Westerners who do not follow an organised religious tradition can likewise tell you that smoking cannabis gets you closer to God. There are millions of us who could tell you that we have had profound spiritual epiphanies from sacramental cannabis use, and that these epiphanies are worth gold.

Cannabis being illegal therefore amounts to religious discrimination. It’s essentially no different to a law that makes the Bible or the Koran illegal. If cannabis use is a means by which some people get closer with God, how can it possibly be anyone else’s right to say otherwise? The people who support cannabis prohibition would be appalled at the thought of Government agents going into someone’s house to take their Bible away, but they do much the same thing with cannabis without a second thought.

There is a need for cannabis law reform so that religious and spiritual alternatives to Abrahamism can be explored. There is no valid reason for people to be forced to follow an Abrahamic tradition, and therefore no valid reason for the law to prohibit the spiritual sacraments of non-Abrahamic traditions. True spiritual and religious freedom requires that none of the established methods for coming closer to God are made illegal – this includes cannabis use.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis is an Exit Drug

Many people erroneously believe that cannabis is a “gateway drug” that leads to users moving on to harder and harder drugs. The reality, like many myths relating to cannabis, is closer to the opposite of this. As this article will examine, cannabis can serve as an ‘exit drug’ to help people overcome addictions to actually harmful substances, in particular alcohol, synthetics and opioids.

In New Zealand, there is a “synthetic cannabis” epidemic underway. A couple of recent deaths in Christchurch were believed to have been caused by the substances, and the total number of deaths in New Zealand this year attributed to them is approaching 50. This is rightly a public health crisis, and is increasingly being understood as such.

The substances being sold as synthetic cannabis generally have nothing to do with cannabis – they are mostly unknown psychoactives that generate some kind of buzz when smoked. No-one’s really sure where they come from or what’s in them, they’re just sold through shady contacts – often at tinny houses when someone was looking for natural cannabis – and end up killing people in the streets.

It doesn’t matter that these substances aren’t really much like cannabis, because they fill a market niche that would otherwise be filled by cannabis. If a person doesn’t like to drink alcohol, for whatever reason, the major alternative is some form of cannabis. If cannabis is not available, because prohibition has made it impossible to supply, then “synthetic cannabis” might have to do, because it will frequently be available through the same channels that a person would try to access natural cannabis.

For the many thousands of Kiwis believed to be addicted to synthetic cannabinoids, and for the hundreds of thousands who are at risk of encountering some synnies from one of the infamous “bad batches” that kill people from time to time, legal cannabis could serve as an exit drug. With legal cannabis in place, even if only at the medicinal level, a synthetic cannabinoid addict could be weaned off the synnies with a replacement medicinal cannabis regimen.

In America, there is an opioid epidemic underway. Opioid overdoses were believed to comprise 49,000 of the 72,000 drug overdose deaths in America in 2017. This contrasts with about 10,000 such deaths at the turn of the century. This represents several times more deaths than even the infamous American homicide rate – clearly a crisis of such proportions that extraordinary actions must now be considered.

Cannabis has shown immense promise as an exit drug from opioid addiction. Science Daily links a report from the University of British Colombia that found significant evidence to suggest that cannabis can help in the case of alcoholism and opiate addiction. There are already clinics in operation in Los Angeles where cannabis is in a clinical program of rehabilitation from heroin and alcohol misuse.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that rates of opioid use are lower in American states that have legalised medicinal cannabis, which suggests that individuals who use opiates are themselves happy to wean themselves off by using cannabis, if only there are given the opportunity. The JAMA study found that “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

A report by Time Magazine found that rates of death by opioid overdose had quadrupled from the turn of the century, and that states which had legalised medicinal cannabis had saved hundreds of millions of dollars from alleviating some amount of opioid abuse. Even if a patient does not stop taking opiates completely, it is possible that a synergistic effect from the cannabis can potentiate the opiates they do take, meaning that they can take less for the same painkiller effect.

All this means that cannabis prohibition is effectively killing people, by preventing those addicted to alcohol and opiates from accessing a potential exit drug, and thereby forcing them to remain addicted to the substance. Despite the apparent moralistic intent behind cannabis prohibition, we can safely suggest that the spirit of the law was not that it should kill alcoholics and opioid addicts.

Cannabis law reform is necessary so that medicinal cannabis can be applied as an exit drug to people who are addicted to, or dependent on, more harmful substances. This will have the effect of substituting a substance that heals for substances that harm, and thereby preventing suffering.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future X

This reading carries on from here.

The ninth chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Personal Responsibility’. Seymour opens here with a stark claim that ACT doesn’t believe in the nanny state or in a paternalistic government. Many of our laws are holdouts from an age of Victorian values, he states, and they are enforced by politicians who transparently do not have a deeper grasp on morality than anyone else.

Breaking rank with the other Parliamentarians, Seymour is willing to admit here that cannabis does less harm than alcohol and tobacco (although he points out that cannabis is not without its own harms). He also echoes a point often made by Kiwi cannabis law reform activists (such as here), that the burden of Police enforcement of cannabis prohibition falls mostly on Maori.

Seymour cites a Treasury study that estimated that cannabis prohibition costs the country $300,000,000 annually, as well as tying up 600,000 hours of Police time. Worst of all, the supposed criminal deterrence doesn’t even work – the overwhelming majority of people convicted for cannabis offences go on to use it. Moreover, the law is applied in a haphazard manner, as can be seen by the 26-month sentence initially handed down to Kelly van Gaalen.

In a distinct break from the right-wing that ACT is usually associated with, Seymour repudiates the moralising that is chiefly responsible for cannabis prohibition, pointing out that not only is there a heavy majority in favour of cannabis law reform, but that majority is steadily growing. This contrasts with the proportion of people who oppose actual crimes, such as murder – this proportion remains constant.

True to the libertarian image that Seymour is trying to stake out, he argues for legal recreational cannabis as well. However, true to the conservative streak that binds his party to National, he is torn, claiming that 80% of the New Zealand public opposes recreational cannabis. He does not cite a source here, and neither does he note that such opposition would be unusual in the context of places like Colorado and California voting by referendum to legalise medicinal cannabis.

Seymour takes pains to seat himself as immovably as possible, right in the middle of the fence. He is open to the possibility that countries that legalise cannabis might “lose their morality” and “become cesspits of unmotivated human squalor” (as if alcohol was not well capable of achieving both), and wants to have a Royal Commission that takes five years before he will consider that we have satisfactory evidence to make a decision.

He rightly pillories the Government for its sharp increase in the tobacco tax, pointing out that the people most sharply affected by this are those who can least afford it. Worst of all, it seems that raising the tax further will not help persuade people to give up smoking. Those who are still addicted are so addicted that they will do almost anything to get hold of tobacco. Sensibly, Seymour would legalise vaping and e-cigarettes.

Euthanasia is another thing that Seymour would legalise, promising an end to “morality-based harassment”. His reason for promoting this is to avoid the indignity of the last weeks of life. Having nursed elderly grandparents to the end of a terminal illness, I can commiserate with him in this regard. He is also in favour of abortion, which makes him less hypocritical than the old right. Seymour doesn’t want to pay for your kid either, but he’s happy to help you get it aborted.

It’s hard to find fault with any of Seymour’s proposals in this chapter. Even if the only right he champions with conviction is the right to die, it’s an excellent thing that these libertarian proposals are even being suggested. It is interesting to note how similar ACT is with the Greens on issues such as cannabis, especially if it is considered that being young is highly correlated with both voting ACT and Green.

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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).

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Is An Alternative to Booze

Alcohol is great fun – but it also has its downsides. Severe downsides. Violence, sexually transmitted diseases, mental disorder and verbal abuse: when the booze goes in, it all comes out. This essay will argue that the downsides of alcohol are severe enough that we ought to be permitted a recreational alternative in the form of cannabis.

The downsides to widespread alcohol use are considerable. The New Zealand Police Manager’s Guild Trust states that “alcohol is present in about 30 percent of family violence incidents they attend,” and according to the study The Burden of Death, Disease and Disability due to Alcohol in New Zealand, 3.9% of all deaths in New Zealand can be attributed to alcohol.

Any Police officer, emergency nurse, heart surgeon, barman, oncologist or taxi driver could give you supporting evidence. We are doing tremendous damage to ourselves on a daily basis through widespread consumption of a drug that has a number of highly toxic side-effects. The bashings, the rapes, the bodies wrecked in traffic accidents represent a great deal of human suffering – and we’re not given a recreational alternative.

Alcohol brings a great deal of joy, of course, which is why it should not be banned. The anti-depressant effects of being able to have a good time with friends is incalculable, even if one can measure the physical damage in dollars. Ultimately, we cannot say that any action that causes us to enjoy life without harming anyone else is immoral, and most alcohol use falls into that category.

However, much of it doesn’t. For those of us who do not wish to participate in the weekly debauchery, violence and chlamydia-fest that is the New Zealand alcohol culture, there should be a recreational alternative.

In Amsterdam, where recreational cannabis is effectively legal and sold openly from “coffee shops”, we can get a glimpse of what a cannabis-based recreational alternative to alcohol might look like. On the Rembrantplein on any sunny day, one can see a park full of people peacefully smoking cannabis, with no violence or disorder. This is not just because Dutch people are well-behaved (because Dutch people chimp out on booze much like anyone else) – it is more that non-violence goes hand-in-hand with cannabis use.

The fact is that cannabis is a relaxant and a pacifier, and it tends to make people more quiet rather than boisterous. So one of the best things about repealing cannabis prohibition is that it would give people a recreational alternative to alcohol. This means that anyone wanting to relax and unwind on the weekend wouldn’t be forced to partake in the culture of a drug that was associated with violence.

Indeed, it can be observed that rates of sex and violence crimes decrease in the wake of cannabis legalisation. This has been observed in the American states that legalised recreational cannabis since Colorado was the first in 2014. The obvious explanation for this is the vastly different effects that cannabis has on human behaviour compared to alcohol.

This is of utmost importance to those who are not compatible with alcohol, for whatever reasons. Many people know that they are not well-suited to drinking alcohol, because they tend to end up in trouble with the Police. When fully sober, many people can tell you that if they start drinking they will start fighting. But there’s no recreational alternative.

Legal cannabis would allow people to have options when it came to unwinding and having a good time. If they didn’t want to get messy they would be able to simply go to a cannabis cafe, and get blazed and talk some shit without the risk of violence.

Of course, the fact that cannabis is an alternative to booze is one reason why it’s suppressed. It has been demonstrated previously that political parties are soaked in donations from the alcohol industry, and that the purpose of those donations is to incentivise the politicians to vote against cannabis law reform. In other words, alternatives to booze mean lower profits for the booze industry.

This shouldn’t prevent the correct actions from being taken. Ultimately, the best option is to legalise cannabis so that there is a recreational alternative to alcohol. Those who are compatible with alcohol can drink alcohol, and those who are not have the option of using cannabis to unwind. This is much fairer and safer method of dealing with people’s recreational needs than by forcing them all to drink booze.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Harms Respect for the Law and for the Police

“Fuck the Police, comin’ straight from the underground,” go the lyrics. Many young Westerners can commiserate with the sentiment that the Police are not there to protect and serve them, but rather to harass and abuse them. But why should it be this way? This article examines the corrosive effect that cannabis prohibition has had on respect for the law and for the Police.

In the Netherlands, the occupation of Police officer doesn’t carry anywhere near the same stigma that it does among cannabis users in other Western countries. Not enforcing cannabis prohibition against the will of the people means that Police officers are seen as allies with a shared interest in the peaceful functioning of the community. Dutch people are not afraid to approach Police officers to ask for help or directions.

In other Western countries, by contrast, many young people see the Police as the enemy. It’s hard to have sympathy for someone “just doing their jobs” when doing their job involves conducting a war against their own people on behalf of their paymasters in the Government. Actions taken by Police officers in arresting people for using cannabis, such as the ones described here and here, are acts of evil in the eyes of most people, and certainly so in the eyes of cannabis users.

The first thought of many people, when they get high for the first time, is to immediately realise that they have been lied to about cannabis. It is not a substance that causes psychosis, but the contrary: it’s a medicine that removes it (although it arguably causes psychosis in non-users). Cannabis users gain the ability to go over previous traumatic memories and view them with new, happier eyes. In other words, it’s a healing herb.

This means that the Police are happy to carry out the task of imprisoning people for using a medicine, and for no other reason than that they were told to by their paymasters in Government. This is inherently disreputable conduct. Standing in the way of any sick person accessing their medicine is an act of evil, and if the Police willingly do this for money then it’s inevitable that the populace come to disrespect them for doing so.

There are knock-on effects of this which form a positive feedback loop. Cannabis prohibition deters decent people from joining the Police, because they know that if they do join they will have to enforce an immoral law against innocent people. So the quality of the average Police officer goes down on account of that the most moral and empathetic individuals disqualify themselves from service.

Another effect of cannabis prohibition is that people come to lose respect for the law. Many people, upon realising that cannabis is medicinal, ask themselves: if the government is willing to pass a law as stupid and counter-productive as the prohibition of cannabis, who’s to say that they put any real amount of honest thought into any of the other laws they passed?

This effect is certainly responsible for much of the hard drug use that people engage in. Many people who use cannabis and realise that the law against it is illegitimate come to think that laws against other drugs must also be illegitimate. This leads to them experimenting with those other drugs out of disdain for the law. When those people discover that the other drugs are much less kind than cannabis, it’s too late.

This process needs not stop there either: it can lead to disrespecting other laws, or even the concept of laws. If the Government is capable of passing a law as blatantly crooked and immoral as cannabis prohibition, why assume that any of their other laws are based on reason and logic?

The major undesirable effect of losing respect for the law is that social cohesion falls. After all, the vast majority of laws exist for good reason: violating them causes human suffering. Murder, rape, theft, assault – all of these cause unnecessary misery to other human beings. Cannabis does not, so if there is a law against that, then the law can’t be based on preventing suffering. It must be based on something else (such as corporate control etc.).

There are a large number of medicinal cannabis users, and they are an ever-growing number. Possibly they will continue to grow for some time yet as the medicinal qualities of cannabis become apparent to more and more people. If the Police continue to attack people for using medicinal cannabis, then the level of respect that average people have for the law and for the Police will continue to fall.

Comprehensive cannabis law reform, so that ordinary people were never persecuted for using or cultivating cannabis, is necessary so that the Police and the law can regain the respect of the public.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Harms Minorities

Cannabis prohibition causes harm across most levels of society, but some bear the brunt more than others. In the Western World, it can be seen that cannabis prohibition has a disproportionately heavy effect on minorities, and there are multiple reasons for this. This article will discuss the need for cannabis law reform from an ethnic rights perspective.

The South African High Court found found in a recent judgment that “the
criminalisation of cannabis […] is certainly characterised by the racist footprints of a disgraceful past.” In other words, the South African authorities are willing to admit that cannabis prohibition was forced on the people of South Africa out of malice.

They found that “it is general knowledge that some sections of the [Black] population have been accustomed for hundreds of years to the use of dagga, both as an intoxicant and in the belief that it has medicinal properties, and do not regard it with the same moral repugnance as do other sections of the population.”

It followed from this that the prohibition of cannabis and the normalisation of alcohol was to put European values first and foremost, and this was mentioned in part of their judgement when they made recreational cannabis legal earlier this year.

Ever since Jamestown – and possibly long before then – European colonialists knew that native peoples had a great susceptibility to alcohol. The American Indians called it ‘firewater’ for the explosively violent behaviour it caused among their kind. Rolling a barrel of rum into an Indian village had a similar effect to rolling a barrel of gunpowder into one.

The science is like this: in Europe, most of the people who could not handle alcohol had been wiped out of the gene pool over thousands of years of exposure. Anyone who chimped out when drunk got killed or put in prison, and thereby failed to reproduce. Consequently, Europeans (much like Middle Easterners) do not lose self-control when drunk at the same rate as peoples who have not had that historical exposure.

The people who conquered the New World did not understand the genetics behind this, but they were well aware of the destabilising effect that alcohol had on native communities. So they passed laws, such as cannabis prohibition, that forbade any alternative to alcohol. This forced the natives away from cannabis and forced them towards drugs that would destroy them.

Laws prohibiting alternatives to alcohol are extremely prejudiced in favour of European people and people of European descent. In terms of the damage it can do to people who don’t have a genetic resistance to it, alcohol is almost a bioweapon, and passing laws that prohibit recreational alternatives to it could rightly be seen as acts of genetic warfare against non-European populations.

In New Zealand, Maori leaders like to talk about economic reparations and the damage done by colonisation. But never do they talk about the damage done to Maoris by cannabis prohibition.

Maoris have no cultural tradition of alcohol drinking. Unlike Europeans, Polynesians have only been exposed to alcohol for a few centuries. This means that they have not had time to evolve a resistance to the substance, and neither have they had time to make alcohol part of their culture. Alcohol is a foreign substance to the New World, and it’s foreign to the natives here.

As anyone with a clue knows, Maoris love cannabis. Not only do you frequently see Maoris smoking weed at parties, but it’s common to see Maoris in the street wearing Bob Marley t-shirts or with the red-yellow-green of reggae culture somewhere in their clothing. Their love of cannabis is unrepentant – in other words, it’s part of the culture.

The reason for this is simple: not only is cannabis great fun, but Maoris are also aware of the destabilising effect that alcohol has on native communities, and have found that their social recreational drug needs can be met just as well by cannabis as by alcohol (in most cases). Given an even playing field, it’s better to smoke cannabis because it leads to much fewer problems, in particular much less violence.

However, although this behaviour is fair, rational and reasonable, it’s prohibited. There are hundreds of Maoris in prison right now for cannabis offences, even though the prohibition of cannabis has nothing to do with their culture and is something that was forced on them by (some) white people.

It follows, then, that anyone who is truly interested in racial justice in the West must also be in favour of cannabis law reform. This will not only give minorities an alternative to alcohol, instead of having alcohol culture forced on them, but it will remove one possible source of discrimination against those minorities by taking the issue away from Police discretion.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Harms the Youth

One of the most common reasons given for cannabis prohibition is thinking of the children. Apparently it follows logically from thinking of the children that the criminal justice system has to imprison cannabis users. As this article will examine, cannabis prohibition actually harms the youth more than it helps them.

To begin with, we can see that the prevalence of youth cannabis use is much greater in New Zealand, where cannabis is illegal, than in the Netherlands, where it is legal. This is true whether prevalence is measured on a lifetime or a past year basis.

This one fact alone blows out of the water the prohibitionist contention that the rate of youth cannabis use would inevitably go up if the substance was legalised. It shows that having legal cannabis doesn’t necessarily mean that young people use it more, despite the lazy assumption that making a substance illegal inevitably means that there is less of it available.

The lawmakers who came up with the cannabis laws are so old and so out of touch that they have forgotten how young people think.

A report in the Scientific American referenced a study showing that teen cannabis use actually fell in Colorado after recreational sale to adults was legalised. The Denver Post ran a similar report, referencing a different study that also concluded that teen cannabis use did not increase after repeal of prohibition.

There are a variety of plausible reasons why this might be the case. The first is that cannabis use is already at saturation point among the young – anyone who really wants it can get it, without too much difficulty. Therefore, making it legal will not make it available to people who could not otherwise get it.

A second reason is that licensed, legal cannabis sellers, being no less reputable and professional than licensed alcohol sellers, will check teenagers for ID before making sales, and will turn away anyone who can’t prove that they’re of legal age to buy cannabis. This does not happen at tinny houses, for obvious reasons. Therefore, if a person is truly interested in preventing cannabis sales being made to teenagers, legal cannabis is better than the black market model.

If cannabis prohibition does not even help to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people, then there is no justification to continue with the policy. After all, getting arrested and tried by the criminal justice system does considerable harm to people, especially when they are guilty of nothing but using a medicine. It is traumatic to be arrested and hauled before a judge like a criminal.

Even if we assume, for argument’s sake, that it’s worthwhile to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people (for mental health reasons or similar), if a criminal deterrent fails to do so then keeping one in place is only maximising harm for no good reason. Protecting the youth would therefore demand some kind of cannabis law reform, in order to protect them from the criminal justice system.

A final argument is that alcohol is the drug of the Baby Boomers, not of young people. Young people should not be limited to alcohol when it comes to recreational drugs, because alcohol does not occupy a central and exclusive part of our culture. For the young people of the West of 2018, cannabis is just as much a legitimate choice of recreational and social drug as alcohol.

The best approach towards the youth would be honesty. Many members of Generation X and many Millennials do not trust the Government on account of previously being lied to about cannabis. This distrust does not help young people – in fact, it harms them, by inducing them to stay away from sources of official help when those might be needed.

Cannabis law reform is a better choice for protecting the youth. This is primarily because it would take the sale of cannabis out of the hands of criminal gangs, and put it under the aegis of licensed professionals who would be aware that they could be fined and lose their license if they sold to anyone under 18 (or whatever the legal age for recreational cannabis consumption would be).

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

New Zealand is a Military Outpost Masquerading as a Country

New Zealand: plenty of money for guns, no money to feed kids

Many of the decisions made by New Zealand politicians are baffling to the average Kiwi. How can it be possible that we can find $400 million a year to enforce cannabis prohibition, which the people don’t want, but we can’t find $100 million to feed our own children, which the people definitely do want? This essay explains why so many of these decisions are made: New Zealand is not a real country, but a military outpost masquerading as one.

Key to understanding this is understanding the guns and butter model of government spending. Essentially, we can measure the degree to which a government acts as a steward of its people – compared to using them as tools to achieve the economic ambitions of the ruling classes – by measuring how much of the nation’s production is diverted to consumer goods as opposed to military goods.

Understanding this helps explain why our Government would approve a $20 billion military spending bill while rejecting a $100 million proposal to feed hungry New Zealand children.

Why is buying weapons two hundred times more important than feeding our own children?

The answer is grim, and dark. New Zealand isn’t really a country, in the sense that other countries are countries. We’re not an association of families that formed a tribe and then met other tribes to form a clan and then made peace with other clans to form a nation. Most of us just washed up here, many of us without the consent of the people who already lived here.

It’s obvious that New Zealand itself has no need to spend $20 billion on armaments, any more than Iceland does. But to think like this is to commit the error of seeing New Zealand as an actual nation, whose will is that of individual New Zealanders and made manifest through its leaders, like European nations. That isn’t how it is.

The accurate way to conceptualise New Zealand is as an Anglo-American military outpost in the South Pacific, something like a forward operating base for moneyed interests that mostly operate out of the City of London, who have enslaved the New Zealand population by way of a debt-based central banking system.

Most Kiwis don’t understand the geostrategic importance of the archipelago they live on. It’s very easy to look at a static map and think that New Zealand is a long way from anywhere, and therefore that it can’t have much strategic value. This way of thinking reflects a myopia that’s typical of New Zealanders. The truth is much more involved.

Firstly, whoever controls New Zealand controls Australia, in effect, because controlling New Zealand enables one to project force into the East and South of Australia, which is where all the people live. The Japanese Empire realised that landing an expeditionary force in Northern Australia and then marching to Sydney was not practical, and so their Imperial Navy’s invasion plans assumed a prior invasion of New Zealand. It just makes sense.

Secondly, whoever controls Australia controls Asia. This is because Northern Australia serves as a staging ground for the projection of power into South Asia, in particular naval power into the South Asian Sea, which is necessary in order to keep the main sealanes open (and therefore the global economy humming). Given that the Anglo-American Empire already has effective bases in Japan and the Philippines, being able to project power into the Southern South China Sea is the last piece of the puzzle.

Seen like that, it’s obvious why the New Zealand Government would vote for guns sooner than food for its own children. Because New Zealand isn’t a real country, there’s no incentive for the Government to act in the interest of increasing the well-being of its people – the Government doesn’t represent those people. New Zealand is first and foremost a military outpost run by imperial interests, and as such the mental health of its citizens is far from the top priority, as evinced by our OECD-leading homelessness and youth suicide rates.

If growing up poor, scared or traumatised means that a person will be more useful in a military capacity, then that is what the Government will encourage. Inequality correlates positively with psychopathy, with America being the obvious example. The rulers of New Zealand have also calculated that an underclass of poor and desperate people will make it much easier to recruit the necessary numbers for a professional volunteer armed force, and have structured society accordingly.

Hermann Goering once said “Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat.” Understanding this sentiment is the key to understanding the spending decisions of the New Zealand Government.

The New Zealand ruling class is simply not interested in keeping the population in good physical or mental health, which is why nothing is ever done about our suicide rate or housing crisis. All that matters is keeping the population in a state of war readiness in case it should later be necessary to use them to achieve some geopolitical objective.

The cannabis laws follow the same principle. Every idiot knows that it’s worse for the people to have alcohol legal than to have cannabis legal, given the plague of violence, sex crimes and drunk driving deaths that follow in the wake of alcohol use. So why have that legal, while criminalising a recreational alternative that doesn’t make people aggressive, impulsive and violent? The answer is, sadly, because our ruling class wants broken, damaged, fearful and violent people.

Unfortunately for us, the reason why New Zealand is not run along the lines of Switzerland or Japan or even South Korea is because our supposed leaders are beholden to foreign interests. We are not an independent nation, and we will never be, for our independence would pose too great of a threat to the military position of the Anglo-American Empire. Kiwis are, as Dwight Eisenhower put it when he warned us of the Military-Industrial Complex over 55 years ago, hanging from a cross of iron.

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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).

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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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).

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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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).

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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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).

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).

To Deny That Cannabis Is Medicinal Is To Deny The Humanity of Medicinal Cannabis Users

Opioids kill 1 in every 10,000 Americans every year, but they’re fully legal

One of the most awful aspects of being a medicinal cannabis user is getting lied to by doctors and mental healthcare workers who deny the emotional and spiritual benefits of cannabis use. The problem isn’t that they won’t help you get hold of cannabis medicine (because there are plenty of people who will) – it’s that they refuse to have an honest conversation with you about the benefits and side-effects of using it.

It’s impossible, in most places, for a sick person who uses medicinal cannabis to expect that their doctor will listen honestly to what they have to say. If the patient mentions the benefits of their cannabis use, the doctor will insist that the patient must be mistaken when they believe that cannabis helped them. Even if the doctor goes as far as conceding that cannabis has some medicinal value, they will almost always attribute all manner of ghastly side-effects to using it.

Worst of all, it’s impossible to change the mind of your doctor by presenting evidence from jurisdictions that have legalised medicinal cannabis. It doesn’t matter that medicinal cannabis was made legal in California in 1996 after the doctors there looked at the evidence – those doctors are simply presumed to be wrong, and recklessly so. End of story.

This refusal to speak honestly with patients is, from the patient’s perspective, a dehumanising experience. It’s a way of saying that your experience can be discounted, because you are worth less than a normal human being. With almost every other medicine it’s possible to tell a doctor that it alleviates your suffering and have it considered enough to get a prescription.

This is even true of opioids, which kill 1 in every 10,000 Americans every year, and which have been so recklessly overprescribed that the opioid crisis now has its own Wikipedia page.

Not so with cannabis. Somehow cannabis has the mysterious property of causing suffering that only doctors, politicians and pharmaceutical company lobbyists are able to see. A patient might feel that their suffering is reduced from using medicinal cannabis, but unfortunately for them, they are not considered full human beings on account of the claim that cannabis causes psychosis. Therefore, their belief that cannabis alleviates suffering can be dismissed on account of it being a belief held by a psychotic person.

It’s a vicious Catch-22: you might feel that the cannabis takes your suffering away, but this can be trumped by the declaring that using cannabis robs you of your ability to reason, and then anything you say can be dismissed as the ravings of a lunatic.

If a person is suffering psychologically, and they take a substance that they believe to be medicinal, and their experience of using this substance is that it ameliorates psychological suffering, then how can anyone else possibly presume to judge otherwise?

It might be that the side-effects of using some particular medicines are so great that, on balance, it’s better to look for an alternative than to prescribe them, but significant side-effects from cannabis use are non-existent.

The feeling from the patient’s perspective is that doctors are saying that ameliorating your suffering, in particular, is not worth pursuing because you are not valuable. Elderly Baby Boomers are getting stuffed full of opioids at the first murmur of complaint, but if anyone else wants to use some cannabis they have to risk several years in prison.

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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).

Does Cannabis Prohibition Cause Schizophrenia?

R. D. Laing

In The Politics of Experience, the great Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing presents his own understanding on the ultimate causes of schizophrenia. He concludes that schizophrenia is not mainly caused by either genetic or environmental factors but rather “the experience and behaviour that gets labelled schizophrenic is a special strategy that a person invents in order to live in an unlivable situation.”

This is a position that many schizophrenics could themselves agree with. Common to the schizophrenic experience is a sense of having been “skewered” by the world, in that one is doomed if one chooses a certain option but also doomed if one does not choose it. This kind of Catch-22 situation is regularly accompanied by a level of anxiety that is impossible to live with, followed by the mind starting to disintegrate as a way of relieving unendurable levels of stress.

It’s not a position that receives much sympathy from the psychiatric establishment, who are almost all hard-core worshippers of the cult of materialism. Most Western psychiatrists cannot conceive of mental health in any other terms than brain chemistry, and they cannot conceive of treatment in any other fashion than dishing out pills. That someone has been driven insane by society is an unpalatable possibility.

Cannabis use is believed by many to be the cause of schizophrenia, because the association between cannabis use and getting such a mental health diagnosis has long been noted. In the mainstream Western model, it is assumed that the causal relationship of these two variables goes in the direction of cannabis use causing people to develop psychosis and schizophrenia.

This has led to many psychiatrists telling their patients that not only are the patients themselves to blame for their own mental illness (which leads to terrible feelings of guilt and self-recrimination) but that only by avoiding cannabis can they hope to make a recovery.

The problem with this approach is, obviously, that cannabis is medicinal, and the vast majority of cannabis users know this, and so being told such things by a mental health “professional” is confusing, frustrating and enraging.

Getting lectured about what one needs to do to stay mentally healthy by a person who has never had schizophrenia, who has never had any experience with psychosis and who has almost certainly never used cannabis, much less a major psychedelic, is a difficult thing for any person to put up with, let alone an experienced psychonaut. When that person doing the lecturing is actually ignoring one’s own lived experiences with the medicinal qualities of the substance, it’s mind-boggling.

Because of cannabis prohibition, mental health care workers are extremely reluctant to tell the truth about the medicinal qualities of the substance (if they’re even aware of them). After all, if they recommend medicinal cannabis to a patient in a place where it’s illegal, they’re effectively recommending that the patient commit a crime, which comes with various ethical issues.

The problem is that the patient is frequently aware that the mental health care workers are lying by omission, which puts them in an impossible situation – exactly the kind of situation described by Laing as schizophrenogenic. If you have problems knowing what’s real and what isn’t, talking to someone who you know is lying to you while that person is also claiming to be helping you is just too much for the human mind to cope with.

If doctors and psychiatrists are there to help us, why don’t they tell us the truth about the medicine that does so much to relieve abominable suffering? The fact that they refuse to do so only feeds into the perception often held by paranoid schizophrenics – that they really are out to get you. It also makes people wonder if they’ve fallen into a time warp of some kind.

Prohibition of cannabis medicine is so absurd, so ludicrous, that it actually causes mental illness in the people whose lives are affected by it.

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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).

The Distinction Between Real Medicine and Corporate Medicine

Medicine is a highly profitable industry

Most people visit their doctor under the impression that medicine is a singular, monolithic discipline and that all doctors learn and practice the same things at medical school. This is a similar level of trust to what was once given to priests, who doctors have now replaced. As with priests, this is a level of trust that is no longer justified, because an ever-increasing number of doctors have rejected real medicine in favour of a corporate imitation of it.

The purpose of real medicine is described in the Hippocratic Oath. In this oath the physician vows that “I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm.”

Corporate medicine is different. The purpose of corporate medicine is to make money, usually as a direct consequence of the fact that sick people are also very anxious and anxious people can be easily parted with their money, as long as you can convincingly reassure them.

The logic of profit maximisation leads to a number of negative outcomes for the patient.

For example, consider the following moral dilemma. A doctor is treating a patient who is suffering from a disease that can be easily cured by two medicines. Medicine A has a 95% efficacy and generates $100 in profit. Medicine B has a 90% efficacy but generates $200 in profit. Which is prescribed?

In real medicine, Medicine A would be prescribed all the time, but this is not always the case in our societies, and sometimes it is never the case. If Medicine B generates more profits, then there is always an incentive for the doctor writing the prescription to let the balance of their judgement fall in favour of Medicine B.

Sound implausible? A 2016 study by ProPublica showed that pharmaceutical companies only have to buy American doctors a few meals to have a significantly higher chance of getting their brand of pharmaceutical prescribed, and those doctors being paid $5,000 or more are the most likely of all to do so.

In real medicine, a substance is medicinal if it alleviates the suffering of the patient. In corporate medicine, a substance is medicinal if it creates a profit for the shareholders of the manufacturer of that medicine.

So in the case of cannabis, because no profit can be made from the substance there are no pharmaceutical company representatives who are telling doctors about how useful cannabis products are, and so these doctors (who show little interest in keeping up with new research after they have graduated) don’t know anything about them, and engage in no mechanism that might inform them.

Doctors who practice corporate medicine are never pleased to hear that their patients have given up drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco for the sake of using cannabis. Alcohol and tobacco not only produce massive profits for corporations and therefore the potential for kickbacks to doctors (unlike cannabis) but they also make people sick, which means that they can be sold other medicines. Cannabis, by contrast, cannot be profited from.

The easiest way to tell if your doctor is acting to alleviate your suffering or simply to make money off it is to ask them about the medicinal value of cannabis. Because cannabis can easily be grown at home, there is no real way for doctors to make money off it. Therefore, a doctor practicing corporate medicine will play down the positive effects of cannabis, even going as far as to deny that there are any, and they will play up the negative sides.

Of course, cannabis might not be any good for your condition but from listening to the doctor’s answer to your question you will be able to determine if they have kept up with new information in the medicinal field.

The Real Slippery Slope Is Doing Things to People Against Their Will

Some people are making the argument that the legalisation of same-sex marriage was another step on the slippery slope to legalising pedophilia, and that it was a mistake to let gay people get married – perhaps even a mistake that needs to be corrected. This argument is becoming more and more common as pedophiles are starting to argue their position with renewed vigour. However, as this essay will show, not only is this line of reasoning fallacious, it also diverts attention from the true problem.

The argument against same-sex marriage seems to go like this. There is a scale of sexual degeneracy, like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where the depravities at one level make the depravities at the next level seem not so bad, and this leads to those worse depravities being indulged in, and so on until civilisation has collapsed.

And so, the loss of absolute paternal authority over the family and over unmarried females led to prostitution and whoring, which led to divorce, which led to homosexuality, which is now leading to pedophilia and which will inevitably lead to bestiality and necrophilia.

This is how many religious and/or stupid people have been conditioned to think, but the reality is different.

The sliding scale is not of depravity, but of consent. Once a person has done something to another person without that second person’s consent – and got away with it – they are incentivised to do it again. Many sexual predators get an egoistic thrill from doing things to someone without their consent, and it’s this that constitutes the real psychological slippery slope.

If there is a slippery slope that leads to pedophilia, it begins with impoliteness, which paves to way to rudeness, which escalates to verbal abuse, then physical abuse and then which leads to expressions of utter contempt such as rape, kidnapping and murder.

Legalisation of homosexuality cannot fall on a point along this slope, because homosexuality is consensual (at least, it is not inherently non-consensual, unlike having sex with someone too young to give informed consent).

Essentially, the slippery slope we should be worried about is disregard of the suffering of others. Not the feelings of others – the error of confusing feelings with suffering is what has led to the social fascist culture that we have today. We should be worried about people who disregard the suffering of other sentient beings, and see to it that the freedom of these people to cause suffering is restricted when necessary.

This is not to say that we need to make rudeness illegal. What we need to do is remove the elements of our culture that consider it acceptable to do things to people against their will, such as steal from them, or coerce or trick them out of wealth. This will have to happen on both the personal and collective level.

On the personal level, it might be worth encouraging the kind of philosophical and meditative traditions that have led to personal insight in the past, because this usually leads to peace of mind and a cessation of suffering. Hermeticism and Buddhism are examples of the traditions that lead to an appreciation of honest inquiry.

On the collective level, we need to stop conducting wars against each other. The first one we ought to stop is the War on Drugs. The politicians who have fought this war against their own people for almost a century have done so against the will of people, for the people have always been against it in any place where they have been honestly informed with the truth.

Unfortunately for us, the War on Drugs has normalised things that would have been best left taboo, such as imprisoning someone without that person having harmed another person. This was previously unthinkable in earlier times, when correct jurisprudence demanded that some harm must be demonstrated to have occurred before the court could ever have the right to punish someone.

It has also normalised the people do not have to consent to the laws that they are forced to live under. At school, we are taught that this is totalitarianism and evil, but our own governments do it to us without our consent, and they get away with it.

If pedophilia ever does become legal, it won’t be because homosexuality was legalised. It will be because our culture has made it normal to do things to people against their will, to force and coerce them into obedience.

Jacinda Ardern Lied To Us About Changing The Medicinal Cannabis Laws

The Clark Government lied to us about cannabis, the Key Government lied to us about cannabis and the English Government lied to us about cannabis. Today the Ardern Government went back on their word to legalise medicinal cannabis in the first 100 days of taking power

They promised that they would make medicinal cannabis legal in the first 100 days of a new Government. They lied. That’s the long and the short of the medicinal cannabis “reforms” announced by David Clark and Jacinda Ardern today. No doubt it will be spun as a great victory for compassion and justice, but it isn’t.

Home growers will be the most disappointed, because the “reforms” offer absolutely nothing to them. If you grow cannabis at home because you have found it alleviates your suffering – as tens of millions of Americans are legally allowed to do – you will still have to live in permanent fear of the Police knocking on your door and dragging you away to go in a cage.

Basically, under the proposed legislation, home growers are invited to go and fuck themselves. There is no word of any reduction in penalties for home growers, only for those who have less than 12 months left to live, and even they aren’t allowed to grow cannabis. If you have a terminal illness (this being defined as an illness likely to kill you in the next 12 months), then you now have a defence against prosecution.

You can still be arrested, thrown in a jail cell with rapists and murderers and treated like a subhuman piece of shit by the justice system, but should you decide to protest, you will now be permitted to have a defence.

The Bill also “establishes a regulation-making power to set quality standards for domestically manufactured and imported cannabis products.” In other words, the Labour Party intends to give full control of the New Zealand medicinal cannabis supply (if we ever get one) to the same pharmaceutical industry that has lobbied for decades to keep medicinal cannabis illegal. This is further underlined when the Bill declares “Most cannabis products produced internationally do not meet the quality and efficacy requirements of therapeutic product regulators such as Medsafe.”

It sounds like the best result is that medicinal cannabis will become available through a pharmacy, at some indeterminate point in the future, once a Byzantine process of bureaucracy has first been established and secondly navigated. In other words, medicinal cannabis is still not legal, and there is no sign of home grow ever becoming legal.

Most worryingly of all, the Bill states that “no pure cannabidiol product made to reliable quality standards is currently available.” This means that, according the quality standards enforced by this Bill, none of the medicinal products produced by the $20 billion cannabis industry in America are good enough, a clear sign that the “quality standards” demanded are not necessary or reasonable.

Clearly, this is another Psychoactive Substances Act – a piece of legislation intended to keep something fully illegal while giving politicians a plausible reason to claim that they are trying to make it legal. Peter Dunne successfully blocked cannabis law reform, while evading media heat, for over a decade using this method.

In summary, Jacinda Ardern is nothing but another vacuous corporate whore, exactly like John Key. She is lipstick on a pig. Just a pretty face on the same disgusting corporate agenda that has engorged itself on the New Zealand people for the past 30 years. Labour lied about signing the TPPA, and now they’ve also lied about reforming the medicinal cannabis laws.

If Politicians Don’t Like Binge Drinking, They Need To Legalise The Cannabis Alternative

Smoking cannabis is safer than drinking a crate, but if we’re not allowed cannabis then we’ll drink the crate

Another Crate Day, another opportunity for self-righteous old wowsers to stand up and condemn partying and having a good time. Unfortunately, New Zealand is full of these useless old bastards, and they’re as stupid as they are pompous. If our political class had any clue, they would legalise cannabis immediately so that there was a recreational alternative to alcohol.

Jonathan Coleman, the former National Health Minister who presided over the gutting of the New Zealand mental health system and the subsequent highest teen suicide rate in the world, is currently one of the most prominent. Coleman slashed funding to rape crisis centres and community crisis teams for the sake of tax cuts for the wealthy, driving many poor families into a desperation that was frequently fatal, and this week he was in the news criticising Crate Day.

Coleman said that Kiwi patterns of heavy alcohol use are “part of a past New Zealand should be leaving behind”. Binge drinking is, indeed, a remnant of the sleazy and vulgar New Zealand that many of us want to leave behind, but the political class gets the Police to put us in cages if we use any alternative to alcohol.

The vast majority of us know that cannabis is a safer alternative to alcohol, and we have been trying to tell the ruling class this ever since it was made medicinally legal in California in 1996. So why didn’t the National Party legalise it when they were in power?

There is plenty of evidence that shows that rates of binge drinking decrease when cannabis is legalised. The reasons why are obvious to anyone who thinks about it honestly: people have recreational needs that must be met otherwise mental illness will result, and getting fucked up can be one of those needs (of course the old wowsers and control freaks will never admit this).

Given a choice of different ways to get fucked up, most people will choose the healthiest way, unless they have a death wish, and this is why rates of cannabis use continue to increase in the West. When alcohol is the only option, it will have to do.

Robin Room, an Australian professor, has himself claimed that legalising cannabis is the right thing to do because there are fewer social harms associated with it than with alcohol. Pointing out something that has been long known to knowledgeable people, Professor Room has stated that the association between alcohol and violence makes it more dangerous than using cannabis ever realistically could be.

There is already ample evidence that legalising cannabis is the right thing to do from the perspective of decreasing human suffering, and if our political class had any sense they would get onto it immediately.

Coleman said “Crate Day is something, in modern New Zealand, we can do without.” What New Zealand could really do without is ignorant, arrogant, stubborn old pricks like Jonathan Coleman, who refuse to do the decent thing and admit that cannabis prohibition is an offence against the New Zealand people.

In New Zealand, Growing Cannabis is Worse Than Raping Children With No Remorse

This month, Brian Borland (pictured) received a longer prison sentence for growing cannabis than Noel Edward Thomas Williams did for raping children and blackmailing their family

New Zealanders generally like to believe that they live in a fair society. We like to believe that those tasked with maintaining justice, like our District Court judges, act fairly and with compassion. But this is no longer possible if you look at how the New Zealand court system treated a man who grew an illicit medicine, compared to a literal child rapist, this month.

Brian Borland, of Daktory fame, was sentenced to four years and nine months prison for four cannabis charges earlier this month, while a few weeks later a Noel Edward Thomas Williams was sentenced to only four years in prison for literally raping a child and showing no remorse.

No Kiwi can fail to be disgusted by the absolute failure of our “justice” system to deliver anything like justice this November. Edwards was found guilty of raping a girl aged between 12 and 16 and indecently assaulting a child under 12, showed no remorse at any point and despite the judge saying “for a child this is the last thing that is wanted,” – in other words, this was the most evil thing that a man could ever do to an innocent child – he got less prison than a cannabis grower.

What’s wrong with our country when you can rape some children and blackmail them for decades, destroying them psychologically and showing no remorse even after being caught like an utter psychopath, and get less of a prison sentence than someone growing a medicinal plant?