The Real Media War is the Mainstream Media vs. You

noamchomsky

Noam Chomsky said something very intelligent once, quoted in the above image. It’s an extremely perceptive insight because it lays bare at a stroke one of the most powerful tools of deception that the Hate Machine has to levy against you.

The corporate media is very skilled at creating the impression that the war between truth-tellers is a war between TV1 and TV3, or between Stuff and Newshub.

In reality, it is a war between those who seek to force you into that claustrophobic little paradigm of thought that Chomsky referenced, and the rest of us.

An insight into how this works can be gleaned from observation of the incestuous nature of the mainstream media. On Stuff, for example, many of the articles are simply puff pieces that reference other mainstream sources of media, in particular television, the pleb’s choice of medium.

This probably isn’t surprising once you consider that the majority of the New Zealand media is owned by a small number of foreign billionaires. If you own both a television station and a newspaper, then why not direct your newspaper to write about the shows on your television station?

This collaboration is in principle little different to how the major bookstores work in concert to act as gatekeepers for any book or publisher whose message does not serve corporate interests (which is why you don’t find David Icke and VJM Publishing books in Whitcoulls or Paper Plus).

They will say it’s a matter of economy of scale but this dodges the point, because there will always be more money in pandering to the lowest common denominator, which has been true for a long time.

In Ben Vidgen’s 1999 bestseller State Secrets he notes, of the media: “The corporate media is not about delivering information (at least not to the public): it’s about making dollars… Crap sells newspapers, and the number of newspapers sold equals the quantity of advertising space sold.”

This newspaper warned at the time that the flag referendum was a deliberate waste of time and energy intended to distract us from making progress on real social issues. Predictably, this warning was not heeded by the masses, who indeed wasted many months of time and energy deciding which flag would ultimately be rejected in favour of the status quo.

The accuracy of Chomsky’s headline quote is very evident if one studies the message of the New Zealand media during that period. They presented a meaningless choice between a range of already doomed options, and then simply refused to discuss anything else.

And then, a few months later, they simply did it all again: excluding all political debate of any national significance so that John Key’s hubristic charade could be front and centre.

The end price of $26,000,000 was a win-win-win for the National party: they successfully hamstrung any meaningful debate about the state of society for months, and they made us pay for it, while at the same time cutting access and funding to social services.

The real media war is between those who want to inform you (out of solidarity) and who want to confuse, frighten, mislead and befuddle you (usually out of a profit motive). So if you have a piece of information that is of more value than the average mainstream media puff piece about Max Key or Kate Middleton, then share it.

The Real Gateway Phenomenon Is The Government Telling Lies About Drugs

One of the reasons for keeping cannabis illegal is known as the Gateway Drug Effect (or Gateway Drug Story, for the cynical). The logic goes like this: people who try cannabis will like it and, in doing so, come to reason that drugs are awesome, and will then inevitably try heroin and die.

Apparently this happens with such tragic predictability that the phenomenon has taken the name the Gateway Effect – namely, that cannabis serves as a gateway to the wider world of drugs.

This reasoning, wrong as it may be, is almost logical. There is a Gateway Drug Effect, only – the gateway drug is alcohol. There is also a gateway effect related to cannabis, but it’s not what the Government claims it is.

The real gateway effect usually kicks in the morning after one has tried cannabis for the first time. Invariably one has already tried alcohol and discovered what a hangover is. Waking up after having smoking weed for the first time the night before is often accompanied by a sense of relief, as one might have been expecting an alcohol-style hangover only to find the cannabis one is very different.

So that next morning, and that next day, it sinks in that you have been lied to the whole time about cannabis. That evening, you start wondering what else the Government has lied to you about.

And then you’re on a journey down the rabbit hole.

That rabbit hole can take the neophyte psychonaut to some paranoid places. This is natural when one realises that the police officers who came to your high school to tell you that cannabis causes violence and mental illness were lying. They came to you as if they were pillars of the community, and they lied to your face about a medicine that you might have found beneficial.

Did they know they were lying? Probably some of them did and some of them didn’t. The ones that didn’t know were lied to by someone else – but who are these people?

It soon comes to appear that the lying comes from the very top – from the political class itself.

This lying and forcing other people to lie has the effect of devastating the social fabric.

If I go to see a doctor about pills I’ve ordered off the Internet, I don’t know if I can trust them or not. I already know that doctors will quite happily repeat lies told to them by authority figures, whether those figures are in government or the pharmaceutical industry.

A doctor will look you right in the eyes and tell you that cannabis causes depression if their paycheck is provided by a pharmaceutical company who sells an antidepressant that makes more money than cannabis could.

Does it have to be this way?

Teenagers are going through a rite of passage nowadays that is very common. It involves smoking your first joint and realising that you’ve been lied to, and then following the same reasoning described in this article. This rite of passage (Eleusinian Mysteries aside) is a modern thing – people in the recent past were generally more than happy to march into a meat grinder if an authority figure said it was to their benefit.

The astute reader might have observed the paradoxical benefit here – this exact cynicism about the government is what makes it harder for English-speaking people to follow dictators.

Still, there’s surely a better way to shock people awake then by putting an unlucky minority of them in prison and leaving their friends and family to rue the butcher’s bill.

The Government’s strategy of lying about cannabis to the detriment of the people it governs, and then refusing to stop telling lies even when it’s obvious to almost everyone that they are lying, has devastated confidence in authority figures for an entire generation of Westerners.

If You Want to Think of the Children, Then Legalise Cannabis

When I was working a cannabis law reform booth at a hippie festival in Nelson about eight years ago, I had an unpleasant encounter with a local hysteric. She approached us like she would have approached two fellows who were advocating to legalise child molestation and launched into a rant about the “twelves” who would inevitably get hold of cannabis if it was legal.

Before either of us could respond, she was dragged off by her embarrassed husband. If we had had the chance, we would have responded with an argument out of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook: that a repeal of cannabis prohibition would actually make it harder for teenagers to get hold of cannabis.

Now there is evidence that this counterargument was correct. The stupid thing is that, if one puts the hysteria aside for ten seconds, it’s quite obvious that legal cannabis is safer for teenagers than New Zealand’s current black market model.

It was found that in Colorado, where cannabis was legalised in 2012, legal cannabis stores generally don’t sell weed to minors. In a study similar to the Liquor Board stings in New Zealand, 19 out of 20 Colorado cannabis retailers refused to sell cannabis to a person who looked under 21 and who could not produce ID.

As can be imagined, a 19 out of 20 rejection rate is much better than what it would have been had the 20 stooges gone to tinnie houses instead.

Even though American teenagers are consuming less alcohol and tobacco than previously, rates of cannabis use among teenagers remains constant. Why?

It’s probably because, as centuries of relentless cultural brainwashing has ever less of an effect thanks to the Internet spreading truth about forbidden subjects, people naturally come to realise that they enjoy smoking cannabis more than getting drunk and smoking cancer sticks.

A short history lesson: the Greatest and Silent Generations survived the Great Depression and World War Two and incurred severe psychological trauma in doing so. This trauma was passed down to the Baby Boomers, many of who were fed into the meat grinder of Vietnam. Generation X, who followed, mostly escaped direct trauma but there are many who suffered secondary trauma as a consequence of being raised by mentally damaged Boomers. Now there are the Millennials, who are mostly okay.

It is not a coincidence that, as the generations get younger, they seem to naturally prefer smoking cannabis over using alcohol and tobacco.

This is probably because the less traumatised a person is, the less they desire the brutal sledgehammer effect on consciousness that alcohol has, and the less they desire the serenity-at-all-costs mentality that accompanies a tobacco habit. Alcohol is a brutal drug for a brutal age, and legal tobacco might prove to be an anachronism from a time when considerations like human life weighed far lighter than profit.

The desire to alter consciousness, however, also occurs frequently in people who have not been severely traumatised – and these people appear to prefer cannabis.

Cannabis tends to have the effect of making the user more, not less, sensitive. This means that people tend to avoid using it unless they are around people they like in a setting they find comfortable or in a mindstate where some cognitive enhancement, not destruction, is desired.

There is no good reason to limit the freedom of young people to alter consciousness to using alcohol and tobacco.

It may have made sense in an era when the life expectancy of humans was so low that few had the fortune to live long enough to die of alcohol or tobacco-related illnesses, but in the current age denying young people the use of recreational cannabis has the cruel effect of pushing them towards an early death from cancer or heart disease.

How Much in Taxes Would New Zealand Make From Legal Cannabis Sales?

With the repeal of cannabis prohibition rising higher and higher in the national consciousness, it seems like a good time to assess the economic impact of a change. The figure of $180,000,000 per year has been touted as the potential savings from a repeal, but how much tax revenue would it bring in?

The paper linked above suggests that the figure ought to be around $150,000,000 per year, but an argument can easily be made that it ought to be more.

In the first ten months of 2016, Colorado sold over USD1,100,000,000 of cannabis. This figure was so high that the total tax receipts for 2016 on cannabis sales in Colorado look set to be more than those for 2014 and 2015 combined.

USD1,100,000,000 over ten months works out to USD1,320,000,000 over twelve months or NZD1,830,000,000 at the current exchange rate. Colorado has a population of 5,400,000 compared to New Zealand’s 4,700,000, which means that New Zealand is 87% as populous as Colorado. Assuming that the total cannabis sales per person is equivalent in New Zealand and Colorado, we can assume from this that the market in New Zealand would be 87% of the Colorado one, or $1,592,100,000 per year.

Rounding this to $1.6 billion, we come to the figure of about $340 per person per annum. Hardened stoners might scoff at this figure, as it represents about one ounce per year, and New Zealand very likely has more hardened stoners than Colorado, but let’s assume this represents a conservative lower figure.

Simply taking 15% GST on this volume gives us $240,000,000 per year. So it’s fair to say that the $150,000,000 touted above is a very, very conservative figure.

This figure of $240 million is assuming that cannabis is not subject to some kind of vice tax in the way that alcohol and tobacco are. In Washington, the State Government took a 40% cut of the total sales.

The Washington market is not as well developed or planned as the Colorado one, and is thus much smaller. But if the New Zealand market developed like Colorado, a 40% tax would (even allowing for a 10% reduction in total sales on account of the tax) reap $500,000,000 per annum.

The likelihood is that someone on the Government side will end up making the argument that legal cannabis will reduce legal alcohol sales and thus alcohol tax income, and therefore a vice tax will have to be placed on legal cannabis to make up for the shortfall.

The majority of the country will find this logic entirely reasonable, which is in fact regrettable but this is outside the scope of this article. It will probably get pushed through.

In any case, the chances of a cannabis tax up to or even exceeding Washington’s 40% are very real, as New Zealand has a lot more inbred, out-of-touch, sanctimonious wowsers than Washington.

Realistically, then, we could count on tax money from a mature legal recreational cannabis market bringing in half a billion to Government coffers every year. This figure would be considerably higher if we did so now and got the jump on Australia, as there are legions of Aussies who would happily fly a few hours to New Zealand for a weed holiday.

Psychedelics or Meditation: Which is More Transformative?

Some people wonder which is the more transformative out of psychedelic sacraments or meditation. The apparent forced choice comes from the proscription against intoxication that can be found in many spiritual traditions. This article suggests that a skilled synergistic approach is better still.

Psychedelics can be transformative in an extremely dramatic way. It’s possible for someone who takes a powerful psychedelic to permanently change into an entirely different person in the space of an hour.

One drawback with the psychedelic experience is that, because the new impressions come so overwhelmingly fast and intensely they are mostly forgotten the next day (a similar but less dramatic phenomenon can be observed with naive cannabis users).

This can lead to a sense that one is forever grasping for a truth that remains, ghost-like, just out of reach. One is haunted by the idea that perhaps everything one knows is wrong, perhaps the world is entirely upside-down, and that, no matter how much sense it seemed to make at any one time, it could potentially be tipped upside-down again at any moment.

Such an experience can be unsettling, to say the least.

Meditation is the opposite in many ways. One cannot count on an immediate, life-shattering breakthough within an hour of sitting down to meditate for the first time, but one can usually count on some kind of permanent insight once one gets it right.

Some people take a long time to feel anything pleasant from meditation at all. Certain people have been lurching from one attachment to another for so long with so little questioning that their habits are far too deeply ingrained to simply quit.

Related to this, often it isn’t the actual meditation itself that brings a change but a secondary insight that comes from meditating upon the meditation. After one has had the experience of sitting down meditating and coming away feeling really good, it is only a small cognitive step to the insight that one doesn’t actually need external stimulation in order to feel at peace.

This insight is the beginning of liberation from identification with the contents of consciousness.

This column will resist the temptation to declare that meditation is somehow more ‘natural’ or ‘wholesome’ than taking a psychedelic. For one thing, much of the pleasure that comes from meditation is because the act facilitates the release of the neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptomine, which results in the familiar feelings of peace and serenity that accompany it (the main reason is that the topic has been discussed at length here).

In retrospect, a good way to explore the world within might be this. Take a psychedelic in the correct set and setting and let your thoughts flow freely as they do. Allow your mind to be expanded. Allow yourself to become awestruck by the infinitude of psychic impressions, allow yourself to become terrified, allow yourself to feel like God.

Then, meditate upon it all. Meditate upon the question of why ordinary life is not usually as awesome as it appears to be on psychedelics, and on the question of what is ultimately terrifying about the contents of consciousness, and on the question of what, if anything, is the difference between you and God anyway.

Allowing yourself to be shocked by psychedelic insights and then to take the fear out of them by making sense of why they occur is part of the shamanism of the 21st century. It is how modern shamans travel to the spirit world and wrestle demons for the benefit of their loved ones back in the material world.

The Naturalistic Fallacy and Consciousness-Altering Drugs

A great and famous observation in philosophy is known as Hume’s guillotine, and it can be found “In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with” (Hume’s words). This observation is that people aren’t very good at describing reality as it is, but rather seem to prefer to describe it as it ought to be.

This general confusion of how things are and how they ought to be has led to all manner of incorrect thinking. One assumption, when applied to drugs in general (not just drug law in particular) seems to be that the human mind works most rationally and correctly when not under the influence of any external drugs – which is, as this reasoning glibly assumes, its ‘natural’ state.

An implication of this assumption is that any person under the influence of a psychoactive drug is ‘high’ or ‘intoxicated’ and thus cannot be trusted to do anything at all competently, perhaps not even verbally describe reality or their own will.

As any psychonaut can tell you, this is complete shit.

For one thing, we are almost always under the effects of one psychoactive drug or another. At any one point in time, close to half of us are either somewhat drunk or somewhat hungover, most of us have a least a buzz going from a solid dose of caffeine at some point in the morning or a haze going from a sleeping pill at some point in the evening, about a quarter of us smoke tobacco, and over a third of us are under the effects of psychoactive medicine prescribed by a doctor.

We’re never clean – so how do we know it’s better?

Secondly, there are already powerful psychoactives that are natural, and our brains are full of them. Our brains are naturally a store of psychoactive chemicals called neurotransmitters, of which there are over 100 known.

Some of them are well known, such as adrenaline. Yes, the rush you get from fighting or from nearly being killed is literally just a drug rush: adrenaline binds to adrenergic receptors, which causes the blood flow to heart and lungs to increase and the muscles to surge with energy in preparation for possible mortal combat.

Few would argue that this burst of manic energy, which often brings with it cerebral haemorrhages and heart attacks, could possibly be more healthy than smoking some Northern Lights and relaxing for the evening. But some will.

Thirdly, there are many ways of altering consciousness that don’t even involve psychoactive drugs. There is music, meditation, physical exercise, and if one has never altered consciousness from making love one simply hasn’t done it right.

If it’s possible to significantly alter consciousness by ‘natural’ means then it can hardly be argued that sobriety is itself natural. Indeed, the idea that humanity’s natural state is to wallow in mind-rotting tedium is probably a masochistic artifact of Abrahamic influence or a consequence of the brainwashing that was done to condition people to industrial era labour.

A fourth and final point is that in some cases the human mind demonstrably works better when influenced from the outside. When a child is born, the act of nursing and being nursed releases oxytocin in both mother and baby.

Oxytocin is known as the “love drug.” Large doses of it in the brains of females while making love will induce them to favour a monogamous pair bond with their partner. This neurotransmitter appears to play a role in all kinds of emotional bonding and interpersonal solidarity, as it is released by pleasant physical contact like being caressed or stroked and brings with it a reduction in anxiety and fear.

The baby needs this release of oxytocin in order to be healthy, because, without it, they tend to develop to be suspicious and cold, probably because they have internalised a moral value that the world is a place where no-one really cares about each other.

Thus it can be seen that, in some cases, a drug that requires an external influence is a natural part of the human experience as a consequence of humans evolving as a mammalian, and thus social, species.

All of these arguments taken together suggest that the received wisdom of “Drugs bad no drugs good” is not only far from the truth but could be dangerously counterproductive.

There is actually a lot of merit to the counterargument. Looking at the drug intake of most of our greatest cultural icons demonstrates clearly that the unique and original thoughts common to many drug experiences is a powerful facilitator of creative achievement.

The Future of Trans-Tasman Domestic Cricket

It’s perhaps fitting that cricket, the most traditional of all major sports in New Zealand, is the only one yet to jump on the Trans-Tasman bandwagon. League, union, netball and soccer all operate in Australian leagues at the highest domestic level. It seeems inevitable that the same will happen for cricket, so, what will it look like?

The concept of a Trans-Tasman domestic cricket league was a fantasist’s pipedream during the era of 50-over domestic cricket. But the idea has had new life ever since the advent of serious, high-quality, T20 domestic cricket.

Domestic cricket has hitherto had one immense hurdle, and that was the difficulty in getting punters to sit in a stadium for the duration of a cricket match when it wasn’t the top level of skill available. They will do it if the sport has matches of a shorter duration, and they will do it for long duration, top level cricket, but not long duration domestic cricket.

T20 fills both of those gaps. A domestic T20 match offers punters a chance to see a high level of cricket without making a time commitment of an entire day (or longer). The Indian Premier League has muscled into a space on the cricket calendar and it seems like it’s here to stay.

This column has taken the time to get caught up in some of the Big Bash League hype last summer. Frankly, it’s a very high level of cricket. Australia has to fit much more talent into a handful of domestic teams than the New Zealand system, and a consequence of this is a level of cricket somewhere between international level and New Zealand domestic level.

The BBL currently has eight teams, which corresponds to one team per two and a half to three million people. Probably, however, there are plans to expand, as the BBL is still in its infancy. If it is expanded to a similar size to the Trans-Tasman tournaments in other sports there would be room for two or three Kiwi teams in a league of 16 to 18.

Two might be difficult as the natural division into North and South Islands would leave a Northern team representing over three times the population of the Southern team.

Perhaps the best would be to divide New Zealand into North, Central and South. This would be very simple as it would mean Northern Districts and Auckland were North, Central Districts and Wellington were Central, and Canterbury and Otago were South.

Perhaps in the very long term we might end with a Super Rugby style arrangement of three Kiwi teams, seven Aussie teams for each state and five or six South African ones.

Three Kiwi T20 teams might leave us with something that looked like this. The Northern team isn’t far off international standard in its own right, but the other two are currently a fair bit weaker and might need to draft in overseas players to fill some gaps.

Northern:

1. Martin Guptill
2. Kane Williamson (c)
3. Dean Brownlie
4. BJ Watling (wk)
5. Corey Anderson
6. Colin Munro
7. Mitchell Santner
8. Tim Southee
9. Mitch McClenaghan
10. Lockie Ferguson
11. Trent Boult

Central:

1. Ben Smith
2. Ross Taylor (c)
3. Tom Bruce
4. Will Young
5. Tom Blundell
6. Luke Ronchi (wk)
7. Doug Bracewell
8. Josh Clarkson
9. Adam Milne
10. Ben Wheeler
11. Hamish Bennett

Southern:

1. Peter Fulton
2. Tom Latham (c)
3. Jimmy Neesham
4. Henry Nicholls
5. Derek de Boorder (wk)
6. Andy Ellis
7. Matt Henry
8. Neil Wagner
9. Kyle Jamieson
10. Josh Finnie
11. Ed Nuttall

Our Relationship With Information Has Fundamentally Changed in a Quarter-Century

The greatest selective advantage that the human creature has over its competitors is an unrivalled capacity for intelligence. This manifests as an ability to make use of information. Few are aware of it, but the human relationship to information has undergone a revolution over the past 25 years – and it has implications for our conception of intelligence.

It used to be that there was a shortage of information. Now there is a surplus. In many ways, this has been a good thing. In some ways it’s had strange implications.

Some of the ways it is good are like the way creatures that have adapted to a shortage often find themselves thriving when there is a surplus, such as athletes who have trained at high altitude where there is a shortage of oxygen.

It has meant that researchers and academics now have it easier than ever. Instead of relying on a librarian or punch cards, researchers can put a regular expression into a search engine which has crawled all the papers in their field (or subset thereof).

In fact, most people have in their pockets instant access to more information than physically exists in the largest library in the world. This is fairly straightforward, and not as interesting as the ways in which it is strange.

The strangest implication of our new relationship to information is that it is no longer about finding rare nuggets of truth among fields of irrelevant or easily dismissed information. Now it’s about knowing how to distinguish those nuggets of truth from nuggets that might look or sound very similar but which might really be full of falsehood.

Becoming educated about a subject used to be like finding diamonds among rocks – now it’s more like sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Being correct is now no longer a question of having money to buy books or to hire a learned tutor and having a good enough memory to recall what one has been told. Now it is a question of gullibility.

Take climate change as an everyday example. Determining the truth of this isn’t as simple as just finding out what the foremost expert thinks.

Who are the foremost experts on climate change, and why? And why does one set of supposed experts disagree so fundamentally with another set of supposed experts? If the experts are unified on climate change, how is that different to when they were unified on homosexuality being a mental illness? How much of the consensus is groupthink?

And what is the extent of politics on the science of climate change?

Questions like this once didn’t need to be asked because there was no way of propagating enormous amounts of dis- or misinformation like there is with the Internet of today. Often things were as simple as finding the nearest university professor who had an interest in the subject, and that was as good as one could hope for.

Dealing with this change is difficult because it requires an entirely different set of mental skills. The new paradigm prioritises nuance and probability over revolution and absolutes. Shades of gray instead of brutal black and white.

One now has to be more streetsmart with research, and accept that politics has a much greater influence on science – especially the soft sciences – than most would dare admit. Today’s climate change debate appeared in the previous generation as the debate over racial intelligence, and in the generation before that as the debate on the medicinal value of various psychoactive drugs – two other subjects where finding the simple truth is impossible.

To some extent it doesn’t matter: the sort of person who didn’t read books nowadays simply doesn’t educate themselves with the Internet instead. You can’t make gold out of shit.

But to a large extent, intelligence is different to what it used to be. It is no longer a simple question of storing, retaining and reproducing information like a biological hard drive, but a question of identifying the most likely claim to correctness out of a number of plausible competitors, like a knight choosing a blade from an armoury before battle.

This may mean that the kind of person we consider to be intelligent now may not be the same kind of person that we will consider intelligent in another quarter-century.

Understanding New Zealand: Cannabis Law Reform Voters

With the news that the Greens have more or less adopted the ALCP policy from the 2014 Election, there is a sudden interest in the sort of person who might be attracted to vote Green on the basis of this policy. In this specific instance, there’s one obvious and decent-sized demographic: actual ALCP voters from 2014, who were 10,961 in number.

So who are they? Well, they’re very clearly not the same sort of person who would vote National. The correlation betwen voting ALCP in 2014 and voting National in 2014 is -0.70. This is not at all surprising as the entire point of the war on drugs was to destroy the enemies of the conservative establishment.

Neither are they likely to vote ACT (-0.45) or Conservative (-0.54). These three correlations are fairly hefty, which tells us that the average cannabis law reform voter has a considerable level of apathy for conservatism and for right-wing politics in general.

Naturally, these correlations are the opposite on the left. Voting for the ALCP in 2014 and voting Labour in 2014 had a correlation of 0.38. For Internet MANA it was 0.76 and for the Maori Party it was 0.85.

Two correlations stand out against this easy narrative of ALCP voters primarily being leftists. They are the correlation between voting ALCP in 2014 and voting Green in 2014 (0.02) and with voting New Zealand First in 2014 (0.57).

The lack of a significant correlation with the Green Party vote might surprise many. It seems to be a natural assumption that, because the ALCP policy in 2014 was always more likely to be picked up in the future by the Greens than any other party, that a strong correlation ought to exist. The reality, however, is that the Greens and the ALCP have hitherto appealed to very different demographics.

The Greens have, since at least a decade ago, deprioritised their cannabis policy in favour of all kinds of trendy issues that appeal mostly to middle-class urban elites. This explains why the correlation between voting Green and Net Personal Income is 0.31, so much more positive than the correlation between voting ALCP and Net Personal Income, which is -0.40.

Not only do ALCP voters come from the other side of the socioeconomic spectrum to Green voters, but they are also much browner. The correlation between voting Green in 2014 and being Maori is (an insignificant) -0.09; for voting ALCP in 2014 and being Maori it is a whopping 0.89, one of the strongest correlations in this entire dataset.

This also explains much of the high correlation betwen voting ALCP and voting New Zealand First. The correlation between voting New Zealand First and being Maori is 0.66. Everyone who has ever met more than a few Maoris will have caught on to the popularity of cannabis within Maori culture, and it’s not surprising given the differential in how hard the law hits them that Maori are much more likely to cast a vote for cannabis law reform.

Few will be suprised that voting ALCP has a very strong negative correlation with turnout rate in 2014: -0.68. This is, however, only slightly worse than Labour’s correlation with voting of -0.67. So it’s less to do with lazy stoners and more to do with the general disenfranchisement of those who the system does not represent.

Cannabis voters have a moderate tendency to not be religious: correlations with voting ALCP in 2014 and being Christian, Buddhist or Hindu were -0.41, -0.52 and -0.40 respectively. Mirroring this was a correlation of 0.34 with having no religion. The odd statistic here was the sizable correlation between voting ALCP and having Spiritualism for a religion: this was 0.36.

If cannabis voters are poor, Maori and non-religious, it’s probably not surprising that they’re also young. Voting ALCP in 2014 had a hefty correlation of -0.55 with Median Age, which suggests that most of the people voting on the basis of this policy are young.

Perhaps the most interesting idea from all of these statistics is that the Greens might be winning votes with their new cannabis policy at the expense of New Zealand First voters. It’s apparent that many young Maori vote ALCP out of levity in their first election and then, as they age and become less radical, come to see the merit in voting New Zealand First. The Greens would be chiefly targeting these voters with their new cannabis policy.

If the Greens are making a serious push for cannabis voters again they may find that the demographics have changed since the last time they tried it, in 1999.

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This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.