On the face of it, it seems self-evident that a New Zealand libertarian party would be a staunch supporter of cannabis law reform. There’s nothing less libertarian than the government putting people in cages for using a medicine they don’t approve of, and there’s nowhere in the world with a greater appetite for a repeal of cannabis prohibition.
The New Zealand ACT Party claims to be a libertarian party. They have wrapped themselves in the libertarian yellow and their website boldly states “We believe the current role of government is far too large and should be limited on a principled basis.”
Sounds good, as probably 75% of New Zealand agrees that the New Zealand Government’s decades-long war on medicinal cannabis users has been a governmental overreach and should be limited.
The ACT Party Crime and Justice page even goes as far as to state, at the top: “We’re striving for a progressive, vibrant New Zealand that encourages individual choice, responsibility and excellence.”
From all this rhetoric you’d think a repeal of cannabis prohibition would be front and centre, but it’s not even mentioned. Instead the entire Crime and Justice section is just a lengthy diatribe about how burglary is the greatest evil facing our nation and ought to be punished severely.
The inability of the ACT Party to make good on their rhetoric about compassion and freedom by supporting a repeal of New Zealand’s cannabis laws – despite their unprecedented degree of leverage on the current Government – marks that party, and David Seymour, as a pack of weaklings.
What takes the ACT Party’s behaviour from disappointing to pathetic is the fact that it has already been well established that a repeal of our cannabis laws would save the taxpayer $400,000,000 per year.
So changing our cannabis laws, and making good on all the lofty rhetoric about compassion and freedom and fulfilling New Zealand’s destiny as a forward-thinking nation, would be a simple matter of negotiating with the current National Government $400,000,000 worth of tax cuts that would be paid for with the savings from cannabis prohibition.
It isn’t clear why Seymour has yet to kick the ball into this wide open goal.
Probably because he is a coward, but it’s unlikely that a man could possibly be so craven. Imagine being so gutless, so lily-livered, so chickenshit, that a 76-year old former leader of your party was saying what needed to be said six years ago, and you still can’t find the stomach to walk the same trail blazed by this geriatric.
A more charitable explanation though, going by his wittering about the need to do work on evaluating what’s happening overseas, is that Seymour is just in the same twenty-year time warp as most of the rest of the country.
It was pointed out in a previous Dan McGlashan column that supporting the ACT Party has a very strong negative correlation with being born in New Zealand (-0.74). Has the ACT Party sold its soul to corporate globalist interests so that Seymour could be a National party puppet?
Considering that there are significant correlations between voting ACT and both having a professional occupation, or with working in financial and insurance services, it’s unlikely that ACT voters or supporters have much in common with cannabis users at all, much less using cannabis themselves.
If those are the circles Seymour moves in, perhaps this is why Seymour has failed to observe the immense appetite for a change to our ridiculous laws.
So maybe he needs to climb down out of the ivory tower and get a clue.
Coming out in support of cannabis law reform would lend credence to the idea that ACT might really be a libertarian party, instead of what most Kiwis suspect them to be – paid whores of big corporate interests.
The question is whether Seymour has the courage to stand up to a Catholic prohibitionist National Party leader, or whether he’d rather scurry away and prepare himself for the aftermath of the likely National loss later this year.
The most sure thing of all is that if ACT does not make an appeal to libertarian New Zealanders by updating their cannabis policy, they have little hope of winning more than one seat in this year’s election.
Nelson does exceptionally well as a tourist town over the summer. We get thousands for the Abel Tasman alone and the Black Caps played here twice this season. It means big money for Sun City – but it won’t continue if we continue to get a reputation for mindless violence.
Retail group Uniquely Nelson is especially concerned by what they see as a spike in antisocial activity, in particular “drunkenness, violence, abuse, theft, rubbish and broken glass.” But as anyone who has lived in Nelson for any length of time knows, violence, abuse, theft rubbish and even broken glass are natural consequences of the first problem named – drunkenness.
Neither can we glibly blame everything on ‘North Islanders’ as if Nelsonians are not subject to the same loss of inhibition as everyone else on the planet who drinks booze. Drunk people in Nelson do the same things in Nelson that drunk people in any low-wage area get up to.
The problem with the drinking culture of Nelson is this – most of the intelligent people who have lived here for long enough have secured cannabis hookups and use that instead. Cannabis has driven out alcohol among the sort of consumer that is most sensitive to being turned away by dickheads, and this has left the drinking to the lowest common denominator.
Anyone new to Nelson looking for a good time will quickly encounter this lowest common denominator, and the results are usually as described in the examples given in the opening paragraph.
The sad thing is, there is plenty of opportunity for people to come here and have a good time. Being the oldest of Kiwis, we Nelsonians naturally represent what is the best of us, in particular a sunny nature, a social attitude and a genuine joy of life.
But we’d rather smoke weed at home than come into town to get our heads kicked in.
So the solution is obvious.
We ought to demolish the dive bars of Bridge Street and replace them with a handful of cannabis cafes, so that Nelsonians and our many visitors can relax in public without fear of being attacked by some drunken animal.
As it is, if I’m driving East on Bridge Street late on a weekend night and I see some young backpackers heading the other way for a night on the town, I feel sorry for them, knowing that they will not get to see the best of my city or of its people.
Cannabis cafes on Bridge Street would provide the revitalisation that Sun City needs. It would bring the young people back out of their homes and life back into the streets of the CBD. It would also create a festive atmosphere in the city centre to replace the fighting, vomiting and vandalism.
Not least, the local retailers of Nelson stand to make a packet from the idea. The wider Nelson region is already, along with Coromandel, the most popular destination in New Zealand for underground cannabis tourism owing to our widespread local embrace of the plant medicine. International visitors know that they can come to this region for some of the world’s best natural cannabis.
If Nelson could get it together to take advantage of the impending repeal of cannabis prohibition we could position ourselves first in the queue for the hordes of young tourists that would flock here to escape from the drunken shitheadery that plagues most other Kiwi towns and cities.
If we did it right, many of those tourists would be other Kiwis. These people should leave Nelson with a sense of being impressed by our forward-thinking, gregarious and positive attitude, not with relief at getting out before they were glassed by some pisshead.
This essay is based on a premise that will aggravate some and endear us to others: that Kiwis born in New Zealand are significantly more representative of what constitutes Kiwi culture than Kiwis born outside of New Zealand, and so much so that this factor alone can tell us things about ourselves.
To put it more precisely, the premise is that the higher the correlation between voting for a particular party in the 2014 General Election and being born in New Zealand, and the lower the correlation between that and being born overseas, the better that political party represents New Zealand and Kiwis.
With that defined, here are the political parties of New Zealand, ranked in order of how unlikely it is that a Kiwi born in New Zealand would vote for them. This unlikelihood is expressed as a correlation.
-0.74, ACT: It isn’t really surprising that the Get Rich Quick party has the lowest correlation with being born in New Zealand. The entire point of the ACT Party is essentially to rape the country and then sell it off, not to the highest bidder, but whoever comes up with some cash first.
The ACT Party has a relationship to New Zealand roughly analogous to the relationship a medieval Arab slave trader had to his Nubian slaves. Perhaps the best example of how the ACT Party fails to be Kiwi is that, even in a political environment where the centre-right National Party has completely crushed all opposition, they can’t manage more than one single seat.
-0.36, National: This correlation is fairly similar to that between net personal income and being foreign-born, which suggests that most of the immigrants that we let in on the grounds of being rich vote National.
As for those of us born here, we tend to not like National much because they’re not really the party of the Fair Go. They’re more like the party that charges First World prices while paying Third World wages. They don’t have quite the lowest correlation though because there’s something Kiwi about capitalist exploitation, as we are, after all, children of the Empire.
-0.22, Conservative: There is something mildly Kiwi about a party that just won’t give up in the face of insurmountable odds. Especially when that party is led by a weirdly creepy fundamentalist Christian fellow who sets off all kinds of sexual predator alarm bells in the heads of those watching him talk.
There is a well-established conspiracy theory that the British dumped their sexual deviants in New Zealand in the same way they dumped their criminals in Aussie. If there is any basis at all to this sort of thing then the Conservative Party are perhaps a natural long-term manifestation of this policy.
-0.01, Green: The Greens are a mixed bag. In some ways they represent the very best of us, and in others the very worst. In so far they represent the best of us, the professional, scientific and technical class – those with the best understanding of the systems we rely on to support ourselves and the challenges facing their sustainability – tend to vote Green.
In so far they represent the worst, there is no party more puffed-up and self-righteous, and supporters of no other party are as likely to hate you for disagreeing with them. In that manner the Greens represent the kind of of arrogant elitism that has used New Zealand as a social psychology laboratory for over a century.
It’s easy to imagine that the Greens might want to bring in ten million refugees in one hit and make it a criminal offence to raise public opposition to the idea. Which is exceptionally unkiwi.
0.01, Labour: Labour are basically the same as the Greens, and for similar reasons. This is why the strength of the correlation between voting Labour and being born in New Zealand is essentially nil.
The Maoris, who have the highest positive correlation with being born in New Zealand, are likely to vote Labour, as are the Pacific Islanders, who have a negative correlation with being born here. European Kiwis, who tend to vote National, counterbalance the immigrant Europeans who tend to vote Green.
All in all, the Labour Party is a big mess of confusion about which little can be accurately said.
0.54, Internet MANA: Perhaps fittingly, the next three parties on the list are all led by Maoris. Hone Harawira, whose family name is deeply entwined with the entire New Zealand power structure, was the public face of this abomination.
However, a party funded by a big fat criminal from Germany has an upper limit on how Kiwi it can ever be, and despite Hone’s best efforts Internet MANA tops out at 0.54.
0.62, Maori Party: Blundering mindlessly forward into your own destruction despite both obvious signs that the path forward is suicide and many chances to turn back is quintessentially Kiwi (this is essentially the spirit of Anzac).
So when the Maori Party stakes the entirely of its political capital on a hamfisted attempt to “help” Maori people by taxing them into the local Mental Health Unit on account of them using tobacco, it’s perfectly representative of them to double down and to keep increasing the taxes despite repeated warnings from academic researchers that it is counterproductive.
0.69, New Zealand First: Maybe no-one should be surprised that New Zealand First has come in second place in this study. After all, they are called New Zealand First, as opposed to Global Banking Interests First (as National should be called) or The United Nations First (as Labour and the Greens could combine as).
Being led by a Maori who doesn’t know if he’s left wing or right wing and who is a little bit shy about even identifying as Maori in the first place is like a Kiwi caricature.
And that leaves us with the most Kiwi party of them all, which is…
0.77, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party: The Legalise Cannabis Party represents the best of New Zealand – full of young people, free thinkers and Maoris, these are the kind of people who will not believe any kind of rubbish simply because it is handed down from an authority figure.
Apart from the All Blacks, Vegemite, and being shy about getting naked, cannabis use is the strongest identifier of actual Kiwi culture out of the lot of them. There’s nothing else that brings Kiwis of all classes, races, cultures and occupations together like smoking weed.
If any of this reasoning has failed to convince the reader, just ask yourself: who would Billy T James have voted for?
This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, due to be published by VJM Publishing this winter.
“If you were to come and ask me for a tinnie of marijuana and I give you a tinnie of lawn clippings, you’ve still committed an offence, even though you haven’t got drugs in your possession.” Sound reasonable? Perfectly reasonable according to Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend of the Hamilton Police.
In the odd case of Betty Tamihana, who tried to purchase some cannabis on Facebook to treat an anxiety disorder, she found that if you try to buy some medicine and get ripped off, the New Zealand Police will not help you if that medicine was cannabis. In fact, they will attack you.
Such an attitude is especially galling for the tens of thousands of Kiwis who use medicinal cannabis. Imagine being told that not only is your medicine illegal but if you so much as get ripped off by someone falsely claiming to sell you it then you are a criminal.
It would be more honest just to make it a criminal offence to suffer from a medical condition that could be treated by cannabis. Perhaps specially equipped Police units could raid the houses of cancer sufferers and if it was found that cannabis would be an effective medicine for the terminal pain then the sufferer could be charged with the crime of ‘Having a Reason To Want To Try To Purchase Cannabis.’
If your light is on at night because you can’t sleep, perhaps that could be taken as sufficient evidence that you might end up wanting to buy some cannabis to cure the insomnia, and so the Police should have the right to pre-emptively break into your house and put you in a cage (for your own safety of course).
Joking aside, that shows how ridiculous cannabis prohibition is. Should we accept that, in New Zealand, after all the time and effort we’ve put into building a decent justice system, a Police officer might sell the sufferer of a mental illness some grass clippings in the guise of an anxiety medicine just to arrest them under a law that was supposedly enacted to protect the public?
None of this is to blame the Police. The Police are men of iron, and the key to understanding them is to understand dogs, who are also of iron.
The thing about dogs is that they have absolutely no concept of right or wrong – they just obey dominant males in their group. Anyone who feeds them, or pays them in the case of Police officers, is their total and complete master, and they will rip to pieces anyone who fails to pay this master due respect.
The real bad guys of this story are, as usual, the Paedophiles of Wellington, who are the ones responsible for maintaining the law against cannabis freedom that is mindlessly enforced by the Blue Dogs.
The refusal of the New Zealand political class to accede to the public will to repeal cannabis prohibition has driven a wedge between the Police and the public, as it has induced the Police to spend forty years attacking the citizenry in the War on Drugs, instead of acting as peace officers, which is their warrant.
This has meant that there are now several large demographic groups – the under 40s, Maori, the mentally infirm – who distrust the Police to the point of seeing them as no less oppressive than an enemy army.
Of course, the biggest irony of this story is that the only person to behave in a rational manner was the drug user who called the Police to report a fraud. The Police officer did not act rationally, because to have a total lack of sympathy for the sufferer of a mental condition is the kind of hatred that ends up getting reciprocated, even if indirectly.
Let’s be clear – Donald Trump will not become American President this week because he out-thought the Democratic campaign during the election (although he did). He will become President because the Democrats and Hillary Clinton threw away a winning position out of sheer arrogance and hubris. One of the prime reasons for the Democrats squandering a sure-fire win was their refusal to promote a humane cannabis policy.
Cannabis became medicinally legal in California 1996, and many supporters of cannabis freedom were frustrated by George W. Bush’s refusal to countenance so much as a discussion about the subject between 2000 and 2008. When the Bush Presidency ended in 2008 and the Democrat Barack Obama became the President, it seemed like occasion for hope.
Indeed, Obama campaigned as the hope and change candidate. Part of this campaign was to distance himself from the haughty arrogance of the Dubya years. This manifested as a website – ‘We The People’ – where the American people could have their say on the issues important to them.
The top two subjects on this new website both related to repealing cannabis prohibition.
Cannabis users finally thought they had someone who would listen. Obama, infamously part of the “Choom Gang,” was sure to legalise cannabis. He had all the right rhetoric, admitting that he “smoked pot as a kid” and that cannabis is not more dangerous than alcohol.
So it isn’t as if Obama could claim to have been unaware of the strength of the sentiment of Americans in favour of legalising cannabis when he became President. By 2008, pretty much the entirety of Generation X believed that cannabis ought to be legal.
However, it turned out that neither Obama nor the Democrats had the guts to do anything about this generation’s foremost moral issue. This blog piece from 2009 provides an eerie premonition of the argument of this essay.
Obama, like the Green Party of New Zealand and almost everyone else, sold cannabis users down the river as soon as he got into power.
In fact, in 2009 Obama was even recorded laughing at the plight of the cannabis users who had just put him into power, as if putting tens of thousands of people in cages for their choice of medicine was an absurdly trivial matter.
Come 2016, and even a country with the socioeconomic challenges of Uruguay has managed to legalise cannabis fully – and still nothing from Obama or the Democrats, apart from a sense that they expect credit and gratitude for not sending the federal police to attack cannabis users in states like Colorado that expressed a democratic will to have legal cannabis.
So when the 2016 Presidential Election came around – and Democratic voters were asked to support a candidate who was known to not support cannabis legalisation – of course they simply refused and did not vote.
Despite a growing population and many large demographic advantages, Hillary Clinton got 4,000,000 fewer votes in 2016 than Obama got in 2008, and a large number of those will have been cannabis users. After being lied to by Obama, and then being presented in 2016 with a crusty old Boomer with no appreciation of medicinal cannabis at all, why vote?
It could be argued that the Democrats’ obstinate refusal to accept what all of their constituencies know – that cannabis prohibition ought to be repealed – cost them the Presidential Election. It showed them to be a party completely out of touch with the people they claimed to represent.
The New Zealand Labour Party looks set to ignore the lesson – Andrew ‘The Ditherer’ Little believes that cannabis causes “brain damage,” which means that there is no reason for medicinal cannabis users to vote Labour either.
Medicinal cannabis users will have to wait for him to run his course as Prime Minister, and then to wait for the next National Prime Minister to sit on their arse for nine years like Key and Clark did, which means possibly waiting until the year 2036 to get what Californians have had since 1996.
With a much more sophisticated appreciation for the national sentiment than the Paedophiles of Wellington, this column stands by the following prediction: the New Zealand centre-left will not win the 2017 General Election without the humane cannabis law reform policy that young people, Maori people, and both physically and mentally ill people are now expecting by right of natural justice.
There is a faulty premise in the national consciousness – the premise that the pro-cannabis lobby has the responsibility to make the case for legalising cannabis before prohibition can be repealed. All kinds of politicians, from Andrew Little to Peter Dunne, have trotted out this lazy deception.
This line of rhetoric is false because it relies on a more fundamental premise, which is that the manner cannabis was made illegal was legitimate in the first place.
The usual apologia is that the politicians are our lawful representatives and so the laws they pass are done so with our consent, and so the politicians have the consent of the governed, and so all the laws they have passed are legitimate, including the ones pertaining to cannabis prohibition.
Basic logic that even a child can understand will tell you that, in the case of cannabis, the lack of a victim makes the law against it categorically different to other laws.
Punching people in the face is bad because it causes suffering.
Stealing someone’s food is bad because it will make them suffer from hunger.
Killing people is bad because it causes suffering to the remaining friends and family (not to mention the person while they’re being killed).
Murdering, shooting, stabbing, raping, kidnapping, defrauding, robbing, stealing, assaulting and battering – all of these are crimes because they have victims.
Outside of the delusional fantasy role-playing world that judges, lawyers and politicians have invented, crimes are distinguished from non-crimes on the basis that crimes cause suffering, not on the basis that a bunch of paedophiles in Wellington have decreed them thus.
This might sound really obvious to any Buddhist readers out there, but to many Kiwis, conditioned from childhood to obey authority without ever questioning its legitimacy, it appears revelatory.
It also puts the moral responsibility back on us to consider if the laws being passed by our supposed representatives actually have the effect of reducing suffering in New Zealand or not. The responsibility is not on our political representatives to make moral decisions on our behalf, because politicians are men of silver and philosophy is the preserve of everyone.
One argument is that cannabis, even if not directly harmful, may be indirectly harmful because of long-term health considerations of the user that the general taxpayer has to pay to treat. This argument contends that we ought to wait for science to prove that cannabis is relatively harmless.
The truth is this – we don’t need to prove that science says cannabis should be legal because science was never used to make it illegal. We also don’t need to prove that cannabis is harmless because harmless is not the standard things have to reach in order to be legal.
It’s legal to consume any of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fat or tobacco to whatever extent one likes and to have the taxpayer cover any medical costs that may arise.
It’s legal to fill the tank of your car up with petrol, a vital and ever-diminishing resource, and to drive around and around in circles for no reason.
It’s legal to join a rugby team and to hit another person in a tackle with the intent of injuring them and to break a bone oneself and to go on ACC.
It’s legal to go into a forest with a rifle and shoot dead a whole bunch of large mammals.
All of these activities arguably cause more harm than smoking cannabis does, even under the broadest interpretation of health issues.
The standard to make cannabis illegal – which has never been met and which never will be met – is that there is more suffering under a regime of cannabis freedom than under a regime of cannabis prohibition.
Until this standard is met, no further reason for using cannabis need be given than ‘I like smoking weed.’
Some Kiwis might have woken up from a New Year’s-induced stupor long enough to ask: “What happened to the Wellington Sevens?” Well, sit down, folks – I’ve got a bitter and tragic tale to tell.
The short of it, though, is this – New Zealand is full of wowsers, and those wowsers saw Kiwis having a good time and decided that this had to be stomped down as soon as possible, lest anyone get carried away.
The linked article notes that the occasion was essentially “a two day party with a bit of sevens rugby on the side” and it died because “the organisers have slowly strangled the event with tighter and tighter regulations as the years went by.”
Amazingly, putting several tens of thousands of drunks in a confined space in the middle of summer didn’t end without problems.
But, as this essay will argue, so what?
14 years of what had grown to become the single greatest annual festival in the Kiwi cultural calendar, was destroyed by the Fun Police in a couple of years: “the wowsers have killed off the atmosphere that made the Wellington Sevens so popular.”
This year, an event that used to sell out a 30,000+ seat stadium in minutes has struggled to sell so much as 1,300 tickets. The general attitude towards the event from once-loyal partygoers is that “they can’t have fun at the event in case they upset someone.”
The question is: why do we let them do this to us?
So what if a few drunks caused trouble and created a sub-optimally family-friendly atmosphere. So what? Do we live in a McDonald’s playground?
It’s time to stop the rout! Everyone who enjoys drinking alcohol has to face up to this fact – cannabis is already illegal and tobacco is being made illegal. What’s going to stop the control freaks from cracking down on alcohol once they’ve banned tobacco?
And will Kiwis do anything it when it happens, or just take it up the arse as we have done thus far?
Is it acceptable that it is gradually becoming illegal to have fun? Are we doomed to end up like the Soviet Union, streets full of dour, grey-faced citizens conditioned to be afraid to crack a joke or a smile, lest they fall foul of some bureaucratic juggernaut that comes after them like a pitbull?
New Zealand has to face the very real possibility that, as our population continues to age, we will eventually ban every possible avenue of enjoyment and turn the whole country into a giant old folks’ home.
Pissheads and potheads, its time to acknowledge that we have a mutual enemy that is only growing in power as the population ages and our politicians become ever more out of touch with reality.
This enemy has existed all throughout history, and it waxes and wanes in strength according to the fashions of the age. It’s an enemy that resents all fun, resents all happiness, and which resents life itself.
The New Zealand Wowser is the single greatest threat to our quality of life. If we do not begin to oppose them, we will wake up one morning to find that everything is illegal except for a curated, Health and Safety-approved set of behaviours on a short list.