New Zealand Is Losing Badly From Our Refusal to Legalise Cannabis

As the technology and knowledge to best grow cannabis develops further in legal territories, New Zealand falls further and further behind

With news that the North American cannabis industry grew by 30% in 2016 to reach a total of USD6,700,000,000 worth of sales, savvy investors in North America are scrambling to get a piece of the action. Stats show that the cannabis industry is projected to grow at a compound rate of over 25% until 2021, a faster pace of growth than even the Internet managed during the dotcom era.

New Zealand could easily become one of the world leaders in the cannabis industry. Almost nowhere in the world has the same combination of excellent growing conditions and a passionate and knowledgeable workforce. But, sadly, almost nowhere else in the world has a political class as cowardly and short-sighted as ours.

The New Zealand Government and our business elites constantly stress the importance of innovation for our future economic well-being. We are told everyday that we need to be smart and be one step ahead of our competition. Well, our competition is blazing ahead – 21% of the American population now lives in states where recreational cannabis is fully legal. This equates to over 60 million people.

The 4.7 million people trapped on our archipelago at the bottom of the South Pacific are losing out, and because of the incompetence of our political leadership we are falling further and further behind. Every quarter that passes means that our competition in North America advances their business practices further ahead of ours, meaning that it will be harder and harder for New Zealanders to compete in this market once we are finally allowed to do so.

For example, much of the new investment money flowing into the North American cannabis industry is establishing a capital base that, if we keep sitting on our hands, we won’t be able to compete with.

New technologies such as sensors that precisely measure the environmental conditions inside grow rooms, and computer software that makes adjustments to these conditions for the optimal possible plant growth, are being developed and rolled out in territories where it is legal to do so. New LED lighting technology is making it possible for growers to tailor the precise wavelength frequency of the light in their growing operation to the specific needs of the strain being grown.

These are examples of the kind of innovation that is generating money for people in more enlightened jurisdictions. New Zealanders could be competing with the North Americans for a share of this market, but we’re not allowed to.

We are also falling behind our competition when it comes to knowledge.

This is a double mistake because much of the knowledge of how to best produce a cannabis crop is in the hands of Maoris, who are the most desperate for new economic opportunities. As demonstrated by Hikurangi Enterprises, who have conducted a successful trial for growing hemp, many of the most knowledgeable Kiwis when it comes to cannabis are Maoris, who generally never believed the Government’s bullshit about cannabis anyway.

Ironically, a former Waikato farmer, John Lord, has used the agriculture knowledge that New Zealand excels in to become one of the heavyweights of this burgeoning industry in Colorado. He states openly that if New Zealand legalised cannabis like Colorado did five years ago, it would be worth thousands of jobs to the New Zealand economy (his estimate is 15,000). This is over and above the $400,000,000 we would save every year from costs relating to prohibition.

New Zealand is missing out on a plethora of economic opportunities in the cannabis market for no other reason than that our ruling class is backwards, cowardly and ignorant. It’s a terrible waste.

The 16-Point Program of the New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party

In order for New Zealanders to be free and happy, Puritan culture has to be eradicated from the shores of Aotearoa

The basic principle of the New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party is that religious superstition in the form of Puritanism is, and always has been, the single biggest threat to the happiness and well-being of individual Kiwis. Puritanism is a hangover from centuries past that New Zealand, on account of our geographical isolation and cultural anemia, has been unable to overcome. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party intends to reverse ALL religious and superstition-based restrictions on free conduct.

This sixteen-point plan establishes how, if elected to Parliament, the New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would act to restore freedom and dignity to Kiwis who face the humiliation of having 17th-century religious dogma forced upon them.

1. The Parliamentary Prayer to be abolished.

There is no reason why the representatives of a supposedly free people at the bottom of the South Pacific should have to pray to a Middle-Eastern God before they go to work. Worship of the God of Abraham belongs in the Middle East, not Polynesia. It has nothing to do with us here and we should not be supporting a foreign religious tradition. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would abolish the Parliamentary Prayer and replace it with a karakia based on the spiritual traditions that developed here in Aotearoa.

2. Male infant genital mutilation to be made illegal.

There is absolutely no justification for innocent children to be mutilated shortly after birth because of some barbaric superstition. Male infant genital mutilation is a practice that has no place in New Zealand, and New Zealand children should be protected and kept safe from it. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would make the act of male infant genital mutilation punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment, both for the “doctor” who carried out the mutilation and for the parents who procured it.

3. Forcing fundamentalist religion on children to be considered child abuse.

There is clear evidence that threatening small children with the threat of eternal punishment in hell for disobedience has a massively deleterious effect on their mental health as adults. New Zealand has recently made the physical abuse of children illegal over the objections of Puritans – the New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would also make the psychological abuse of children illegal when this occurs in a religious context. It will become illegal to bring children to certain churches if the rhetoric of those churches is deemed to be abusive in nature.

4. The price of cigarettes to drop to less than $10/pack, legal age to buy tobacco dropped back to 16.

Tobacco has for centuries been one of the best psychiatric medicines for the alleviation of stress, anxiety and depression. The idea of a “Smokefree New Zealand” is more Puritanical bullshit that takes the freedom to self-medicate away from ordinary Kiwis. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would slash tobacco taxes so that it was once again easy for ordinary New Zealanders to use tobacco to alleviate psychological discomfort, and would drop the legal age to buy tobacco back down to 16.

5. Legal age to buy alcohol dropped to 16 for beer and wine in pubs, kept at 18 for hard liquor.

In several countries in Europe it is possible to buy beer and wine in a pub at the age of 16. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party believes that all the strictures and laws surrounding alcohol in New Zealand is responsible for making the substance appear to be a forbidden fruit, and that this perception is chiefly responsible for the binge drinking culture we have here. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would make it legal for 16-year olds to buy beer and wine if it was to be consumed in a supervised setting such as a licensed establishment.

6. Alcohol taxes to be slashed.

The Puritanical belief that making alcohol hard to afford leads to more responsible use has completely backfired. Even the most superficial analysis of the European experience demonstrates that making alcohol expensive leads to binge drinking because people are unable to attenuate themselves to regular responsible use of the drug. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would slash excise duty on alcohol so that it became cheap enough for ordinary Kiwis to have a few drinks with their weekday dinners, instead of saving up to get wasted on the weekends.

7. Cannabis to be made legal and sold like tobacco, but with a legal age of 18.

There is absolutely no justification for putting good Kiwi people in prison because they sell or grow a substance widely recognised in non-Puritanical jurisdictions to have great medicinal value. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would immediately legalise cannabis along the lines of the immensely successful Colorado model, but would allow for it to be sold alongside tobacco at dairies and petrol stations. A legal age of 18 would be established for purchasing the substance for the reason that cannabis, like alcohol, is a harder drug than tobacco.

8. Immigration from fundamentalist religious countries to be slashed.

If New Zealand is to keep itself free from the strictures of Puritanical religion, it is essential that the population of New Zealand be kept safe from Puritans moving here and forcing their demented morals on us. When immigrants come to New Zealand they bring with them cultural values that have the potential to lower the standard of living for the locals. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would slash immigration from all countries that are deeply religious, in particular all Middle-Eastern countries.

9. Churches to no longer be considered charities.

The promulgation of Abrahamic religion is not charitable. Brainwashing people into hating gays, hating women, hating drug users and hating atheists is not a charitable enterprise and sharply lowers the standard of living of New Zealanders, as well as creating mistrust and disunity among the people. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would strip tax-free status from all religious enterprises, thereby forcing them to compete on equal terms with secular ones.

10. Abortion to be made fully legal.

The Puritanical belief that women must be forced to carry to term a child that is not wanted and will have a terrible start to its life has caused immense suffering everywhere abortion is illegal. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would remove the barriers to abortion that currently keep women under the Puritan thumb.

11. Euthanasia to be made fully legal.

The Puritanical belief that terminally ill people must be kept alive and suffering as long as possible is simply obscene. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would take steps to ensure that people who have undeniably come to the end of their natural lives are able to die with dignity and without unnecessary misery and suffering.

12. Blasphemy laws to be abolished.

There is no place in a secular democracy for freedom of speech to be restricted just because it hurts the feelings of superstitious control freaks. The concept of blasphemy is a medieval idea that has no place in New Zealand. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would enshrine in law the right of every Kiwi to make any religious or spiritual statement they like, no matter how offensive this may be considered by Puritan fundamentalists.

13. Access to fireworks to be reliberalised.

The great joy that kids and adults of all ages once got from home fireworks displays on Guy Fawkes Night should never have been taken away from the New Zealand people. Fireworks were only banned because of Puritanical moral panic; the New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would bring back the same rights that free Kiwis used to have to buy and use fireworks leading up to Guy Fawkes Night.

14. Pornography to be liberalised.

The Puritanical obsession with sex has led to a number of anti-pornography laws that not only have no place in New Zealand but which are impossible to enforce in the Internet age. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would make it legal to depict in film or images any sexual act that takes place between consenting adults.

15. All other drugs to be made legal with attention given to real-life consequences.

Puritanism hasn’t merely taken away our rights to enjoy cannabis, alcohol and tobacco as we see fit, but also every other drug is now illegal as well. As for cannabis, there is simply no justification for putting good Kiwi people in prison because of their use of a drug. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would make every drug legal, with the exception of cases when the sale of a particular drug had a direct and clear negative effect on the health of individuals. This effect must be demonstrated through evidence – moral panic would not by itself be sufficient.

16. Eleusinian Mysteries to be reinstated and to occur at the start of every winter.

The Eleusinian Mysteries, in which participants would partake in a yearly ceremony that liberated them from the illusions of the material world and the brainwashing of culture, must be reinstated. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party would make institute a ceremony akin to the Eleusinian Mysteries in every city and town in the nation. It was such a ceremony that led to the Golden Age of Ancient Greece and there is no reason why the reinstatement of such a ceremony would not have similar benefits for New Zealand.

The Aotearoan Mysteries would take place about six weeks after the first winter frosts, which would give the priests enough time to collect the psilocybin mushrooms that are necessary to produce the kykeon. This would be drunk by the participants before they sit and watch a theatrical play that initiated them into the mysteries of life and death. Any adult who speaks English would be allowed to participate.

Full implementation of this 16-point plan would liberate New Zealand and the Kiwi people from the chains of silver and gold that Puritanical culture has enslaved us with. The New Zealand Anti-Puritan Party will thereby sharply increase the standard of living of everyday Kiwis and return to them their birthright of freedom and liberty.

Is It Now Time To Charge Peter Dunne With Manslaughter?

Withholding medicine from a sick person who needs it, leading to that person’s death, is manslaughter – should Peter Dunne face charges for withholding medicinal cannabis from sick Kiwis who needed it?

Peter Dunne announced today that he will be stepping down at next month’s election and will not contest his current Parliamentary seat of Ohariu. It’s apparent that the National ship is sinking and, like a rat, he’s getting off while the getting’s good. However, that doesn’t mean he should get away with the suffering he caused to innocent Kiwis while in office.

The New Zealand Crimes Act sets out the definition for culpable homicide, one form of which is the crime of manslaughter. One example of culpable homicide is “causing that person by threats or fear of violence, or by deception, to do an act which causes his or her death”.

The threat of using the criminal justice system to put a person in a cage for using medicinal cannabis definitely qualifies here. Peter Dunne has acted to uphold cannabis prohibition ever since his agreement to support the Fifth Labour Government in exchange for no progress on cannabis law reform.

This has had the effect of causing people to avoid using cannabis medicine for fear of arrest and imprisonment.

Lying about the medicinal qualities of cannabis also qualifies here. Telling the people of New Zealand that cannabis is not a medicine, when its medicinal use is saving lives in dozens of overseas jurisdictions, is a form of deception that has caused a number of deaths.

If New Zealand was a fair society, if justice existed here for every person and not just for the wealthy, Dunne would be charged with causing those deaths.

Studies have shown that in American states with legal medicinal cannabis, deaths from opioid overdoses have decreased by 25%. This is because many suffering people would rather use cannabis than the highly addictive opioid-based painkillers that frequently lead to death by overdose.

Because Dunne blocked medicinal cannabis law reform for so many years, the use of prescription opioids in New Zealand has soared. A mainstream media article from a couple of months ago, titled Serious pain coming as NZ’s prescription opioid use soars, details some statistics that point towards the looming health disaster that Peter Dunne has dumped in our laps.

There’s no doubt that if a New Zealander went into someone else’s house and took away their insulin, and then that person died, then the person who took that medicine away could be charged with manslaughter. So why can’t Peter Dunne be tried for the people who died because he kept medicinal cannabis out of their hands?

If the case of sick Kiwis dying from having an effective medicine withheld from them is not enough to press charges, the ongoing spate of deaths from people using recreational alternatives to natural cannabis might be. Peter Dunne’s action in delaying the legalisation of recreational cannabis, at the same time as opening the floodgates for a variety of mystery drugs cooked up in Chinese labs and labelled “legal highs”, has been linked with nine deaths last month alone.

The fact is that these people are only dying because their first choice of recreational drug – natural cannabis – has been denied to them, incentivising them to use alternatives. Therefore, it can be argued that Peter Dunne, insofar as he blocked cannabis law reform for so long, is responsible for these deaths.

His disastrous Psychoactive Substances Act, one of the most overreaching and totalitarian laws ever passed in New Zealand, has had the effect of making a huge range of safe cannabis alternatives illegal, delivering this massive industry directly into the hands of the black market and the criminal gangs that exploit it. Because of the total absence of quality controls in the black market, recreational drug consumers have absolutely no idea what they’re getting when they buy a cannabis alternative.

As the Minister chiefly responsible for this shambles, Peter Dunne ought to face manslaughter charges for the innocent Kiwis who have died through having cannabis denied to them.

Dear Jacinda: Use Trudeau As Your Model, Campaign On Cannabis Law Reform

Dear Jacinda – there isn’t the time to go into much detail, so I’ll be brief. If you want to win next month you will have to copy Justin Trudeau and how he won in Canada. If you want to copy Justin Trudeau you’ll have to demonstrate that you’re listening where the other politicians have not been – and that means that you ought to campaign on comprehensive cannabis law reform in New Zealand.

Trudeau campaigned on several major policy planks, but one of them was that cannabis prohibition was a demonstrated failure and the law prohibiting it needed repealing as soon as possible. This was not a shock to the Canadian electorate in 2016 because there had already been four years to observe the effects of legalisation in Colorado and in other places. It will not be a shock here either.

By now even the South African High Court has ruled that cannabis use is a human right, as they did earlier this year. It’s fair to say that if a Third World country like South Africa has an intellectual tradition deep enough to understand the need for cannabis law reform, then New Zealand ought to be able to claim the same.

So with this issue you could demonstrate a clear point of difference with not only Andrew Little, but also with Bill English and Winston Peters. You can also prevent the Greens and the Opportunities Party from outflanking you.

One of the reasons Little was not successful as Labour Leader was his refusal to listen to the people. Cannabis users, all 400,000 of us, tried to tell him that we were tired of being told that our issue wasn’t important and that we’d have to keep waiting. We’ve been waiting since 1996.

All we got was talk about how cannabis users would have to keep going to prison because cannabis causes brain damage, despite us providing ample evidence that prohibition caused far more harm than cannabis itself ever could.

What is sitting before you is the easiest open goal ever offered to a Labour Party leader. Kick it in!

Introducing cannabis law reform to an electorate where up to a third of them are directly criminalised by prohibition, and over two-thirds of them support a change to the current law, will be much easier than introducing civil unions was to an electorate where barely one in a hundred people were affected.

The cannabis issue is unique in that it cuts across a wide range of demographics. The correlation between being Maori and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2014 was a whopping 0.89 – strong enough that it can fairly be said the vast majority of Maoris have an interest in cannabis law reform.

Considering that there is also a strong correlation between being Maori and not voting, it’s clear that there’s a large block of cannabis-friendly Maoris who have been, up until now, reluctant to vote at all. Although the primary reason for this is general disenfranchisement and not cannabis specifically, the refusal of our political class to listen to Kiwis on cannabis law reform is a major contributor to that disenfranchisement.

This column has previously argued that cannabis prohibition is itself a racist law because of its disproportionate effect on Maoris. It has long been noted that the major losers from cannabis prohibition are the same demographics that vote Labour, so why not give your constituency a break by legalising the recreational drug that most of them prefer to alcohol?

The correlation between voting Labour in 2014 and median age was -0.70, and with voting Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2014 and median age it was -0.55, so it’s apparent that there are broad overlaps between Labour voters, cannabis users, and the disenfranchised young and Maori who don’t see enough representation in the system for it to be worth voting.

Change Labour’s stance on the cannabis issue, and you can bring enough non-voters to the polls to change the outcome of this election.

Labour Has Ignored Cannabis Law Reform At Its Own Cost

“Little isn’t listening.” That’s been the despairing conclusion drawn by the majority of the nation’s cannabis users over the past couple of years, as the total refusal of the Labour Party to take the issue seriously has caused many to switch off from politics entirely. Sentiments like these go some way to explaining why Labour is polling at their lowest level in over 20 years.

A change of Government at this stage of the electoral cycle is usually a procession for the opposition. After nine years of conservatism, which has left us with the world’s highest teen suicide rate, a completely dysfunctional mental health system and never-seen-before levels of homelessness, simply appearing competent ought to be good enough for Labour to win this year.

It’s likely that this has been Andrew Little’s strategy – appear as competent and steady as possible, and wait for the public to naturally swing to you as they start to desire an alternative.

The trouble is – and this is where Little is losing – is that his Labour Party doesn’t actually look like an alternative.

California legalised medicinal cannabis in 1996, meaning that New Zealand is already 21 years out of date on the issue, but the Labour Party website doesn’t even mention it.

The angry geriatric brigade might continue to dismiss the importance of the issue, but for the nation’s under-40s the cannabis law reform question is talismanic of the Establishment’s refusal to take their concerns seriously.

So when Andrew Little goes on television to say that cannabis causes brain damage, young Kiwis all around the nation drop their heads into their hands.

And then switch their vote to the Green Party. If one looks at the demographics of cannabis law reform voters in the 2014 General Election, it’s apparent that the bulk of them are young, poor, Maori and disenfranchised – precisely the sort of person the Greens had, until recently, neglected in their drive to the centre.

Last year’s policy change towards once again putting a high priority on the cannabis issue has attracted huge numbers of these otherwise disenfranchised demographics to the Green Party cause, and possibly even attracted some from Labour.

Young people are sick of having no recreational alternative to socialising with pissheads, and now that there’s clear evidence that cannabis can effectively serve as an alternative to alcohol there’s no reason to keep denying it to a New Zealand public that clearly understands the need for it.

And so, the Green Party has shot up to 15%, their highest ever poll result.

The hordes of morons living 20 years in the past will chalk this up to a coincidence, but the fact is this: cannabis law reform is a major issue for the under-40s, and by taking an intelligent and humane stance on it the Greens have rightfully gained some great electoral rewards.

For years, the issue has been sitting there as a soccerball before an open goal, with none of the cowards in Parliament willing to take up the issue.

The ridiculous Stephen Berry, mocked by our propaganda department for saying that ACT only cares about “the issues that matter to New Zealanders,” now finds himself a member of a party that is polling at 0.3% – lower than the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party at the last General Election.

This is the truth: no-one cares about gay rights any more. That issue is settled; it’s the politics of our grandparents. There are far greater grievances and injustices in New Zealand society, and it’s time to sort those out.

As long as the National Party refuses to consider granting respite to the nation’s 400,000 cannabis users, they will keep crying out for an alternative to the Fifth National Government.

And as long as the Labour Party refuses to listen to those crying out – and refuses to consider being that alternative – they will continue to fall in the polls.

The Labour Party ignores the need for cannabis law reform at its own cost, a cost that escalates the longer they do so.

Cannabis Prohibition is a Pakeha Law With No Place in Aotearoa

The Maoris’ lack of historical exposure to alcohol meant that, for British settlers, the drug had a similar effect to a targeted bioweapon

Maoris are severely disadvantaged by the laws around recreational drugs for biological reasons. The Pakeha that introduced these laws knew about these biological reasons, and so they created a set of drug laws specifically designed to keep Maoris down. This essay looks at how.

Human use of alcohol dates back into prehistory. It is believed that civilisations in the Fertile Crescent were brewing a simple form of mead as far back as 8,000 B.C., and we’ve never stopped brewing it. After all, the effects of alcohol make some of the unpleasant aspects of life much easier to deal with.

Not every culture adopted alcohol at the same time, however. Use of it spread from the Fertile Crescent to nearby cultures, and then further afield, until it was introduced to Maoris in the late 18th century.

Alcohol is everywhere now, but, as any cosmopolitan worthy of the name could tell you, the various people of the world behave in different ways to the drug.

The basic rule is this: the greater the length of time that an individual’s ancestors have been exposed to alcohol, the greater the opportunity there has been for genes that lead to poor outcomes from alcohol use (in particular, violence and/or physically reckless behaviour, and alcoholism) to have been eliminated from that individual’s gene pool.

Middle Easterners tend to behave the best on alcohol, for the reason that they have been exposed to it for maybe 10,000 years. This means that, for a hundred centuries, anyone carrying genes that led them to go crazy on alcohol would have died at a significantly higher rate than their fellows.

Southern Europeans and Northern Africans are the next best behaved, because they were next to be introduced to the drug, and Northern Europeans, especially the British from which the majority of Kiwis descend, have themselves had between 2,500 and 5,000 years of exposure.

The Maoris, by contrast, have had 200 years of exposure to alcohol. Although trading rum for various goods and services was basically how interracial relations began in New Zealand, two centuries is not very long in evolutionary terms.

What that means, in practice, is that Maoris carrying genes that lead them to go crazy on alcohol, although they certainly die at a significantly higher rate than their fellows, have not done so for long enough for Maoris as a whole to have built up the genetic resistance to the drug that Kiwis of British ancestry have.

This explains why, if you put half a dozen standard drinks into 100 Maoris and 100 Pakeha, the Maoris would have significantly worse outcomes. It’s not a question of willpower or lack of mental discipline or fortitude, any more than the higher rate of skin cancer among Pakeha is a question of those things. Both are matters of explicable biology.

The fact is that alcohol has literally been used as a bioweapon against Maoris.

The logic about genetic resistance was understood by British colonialists well before anyone was aware of such things as genes. By the time the Empire had made it as far as New Zealand, it had had two hundred years of observing the effects of the drug on the natives of Africa, the Americas and Australia, and it had noted that in almost every case the social structure of those natives was obliterated by exposure to it.

They therefore knew full well what was going to happen when they introduced the Maoris to rum, and outcomes like Kororareka – “The Hellhole of the South Pacific” – were inevitable.

It was known that exposure to alcohol was going to cause the Maoris to fight each other and kill themselves, because there had been ample opportunity to see that happen elsewhere.

This genetic vulnerability to alcohol explains why Maori culture has taken so eagerly to cannabis. The majority of Maoris have tried cannabis at some point in their lives, and many of those prefer it to alcohol, for the straightforward biological reasons explained above.

For many Maoris, smoking cannabis is a way of getting the benefits of easy sociability and euphoria that one would get from alcohol, but without the drastically negative consequences that naturally befall anyone without an ancestral exposure to the drug. So cannabis prohibition has a massively disproportionate effect on Maoris.

Understood like this, it appears almost sadistic that a Parliament full of people of European descent would forbid, on pain of time spent locked in a prison cage, a recreational alternative to a drug that only they can safely use.

This could fairly said to be terrorism in the form of bioweapons.

Should Kiwis With Historical Cannabis Convictions Be Compensated?

Now that the New Zealand Parliament has officially apologised to Kiwis convicted of historic homosexuality offences, the day when they apologise to medicinal cannabis users draws ever closer. So in much the same way that there are calls for gay men convicted for homosexuality offences to be compensated, there will also be calls for people convicted of medicinal cannabis offences to be compensated.

This isn’t necessarily a brand new idea – Article D of the twenty-six point plan in the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook calls for compensation on the grounds that a criminal record for a medicinal cannabis offence severely impacts the sufferer’s social and financial standing.

It’s easy for most to agree that a person’s rights to cultivate a herbal medicine are in the same category as their rights to have sex with another man. There is no good reason to sic the Police on people who do either, because neither action causes harm to anyone else.

And so it’s straightforward to accept that there is a genuine case for compensation for harm done to the victims of the Police and Justice systems. After all, putting someone in a cage for an action that harms no-one is itself a crime.

There are life-long consequences to getting a criminal conviction, such as extreme difficulty in finding a job, getting a loan or being accepted to an academic course. The financial losses to these three consequences alone might add up to half a million dollars or more over the course of a lifetime.

So most of us can accept that it’s fair that the Government pays money to put right the damage that it caused to its own people by effectively conducting a war on them without their consent.

If a person wants to make the argument that compensation should be denied because the offences were technically crimes at the time they were committed, they ought to ask themselves if they would be happy with a criminal conviction for reading this VJM Publishing article in a dystopic future where websites without state approval were considered pirate media.

Because it’s very easy to dismiss the psychological damage caused by arbitrary misapplications of judicial power when it doesn’t happen to oneself.

What ought to happen is, first, that it be written into the New Zealand Bill of Rights that actions that do not have victims cannot be crimes. This will not only entrench the legality of both homosexual activity and medicinal cannabis use, but it will also make it impossible for any future offence in this category (i.e. victimless ones) to be pushed into law.

What needs to happen, second, is that a commission is put together to calculate – using the same evidence-based methodology that is being pushed by some with regards to cannabis law reform – an accurate dollar figure corresponding to the amount of suffering caused by being persecuted by this law.

Possibly the fairest way would be to declare a set sum of compensation per conviction and per day in jail if there was a custodial sentence.

For example, we might say that the amount of personal damage inflicted on a person by giving them a criminal conviction was equal to $25,000, with a further $250 for each day spent in prison.

And third we need to decide if we’re actually going to pay this compensation or if we’re going to just say “Fuck ’em”.