If Pete Rainey Had a Clue, He’d Put Cannabis Law Reform Before Hone Ma Heke

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Pete Rainey needs to stop crying about Hone Ma Heke and support a policy that will actually benefit the people of Nelson. What Nelson needs isn’t to raise a lynch mob and go after a protester – it needs to legalise cannabis.

In few places on Earth does cannabis have more popular support than among the people of Nelson. This is a hugely pro-cannabis area, with the sentiment only getting stronger the further West from Nelson one goes. Almost everyone here smokes it – young, old or in between. You can see Bob Marley posters in several stores and a handful of others openly sell cannabis paraphernalia.

So a mayoral candidate that promoted such a thing would have the support of the locals.

Also, we need the money here in Nelson. It has been estimated by the Treasury that cannabis law reform would make the country $330,000,000 per year, roughly half of that savings from not enforcing cannabis prohibition and the other half from taxes. If the Nelson area has 1.5% of New Zealand’s population, it stands to reason that we would reap 1.5% of the savings of cannabis law reform.

This amounts to almost $5,000,000 per year.

With the proceeds from cannabis law reform alone, Nelson would save, in ten years, enough money to build a gondola that rivalled the biggest gondola in the world!

That’s the sort of vision Nelson needs – not petty hatred aimed at a guy already at the bottom of the ladder.

How Media Bias in New Zealand Contributes to a Prohibitionist Attitude

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The bias against cannabis in the New Zealand media expresses itself in a number of ways. Some excerpts from a recent Southland Times article called “Invercargill Teen Jailed for One Punch Kill” show how biased this sort of reporting is.

Thanks to a phenomenon called the serial position effect, psychologists know that, when presented with a list of items, a person reading them is more likely to remember the one that was first in the list. Keep this simple fact in mind when analysing this piece.

The article told the pathetic story of Tyrone Palmer, who killed a man named Matthew Coley with a single punch to the side of the head in Invercargill earlier this year.

Near the beginning of the article is the sentence “On Friday, April 8, Palmer had… used the class A drug LSD, cannabis, and alcohol.”

Understanding the serial position effect, we know that anyone reading that passage is likely to take away from it the message that “the class A drug” LSD and cannabis were at least as responsible for the sucker punch as the alcohol was.

Anyone with a clue, of course, will know that the LSD and cannabis had nothing to do with the violence for the simple reason that psychedelics do not make people violent. Moreover, there are hundreds of cases of unprovoked violence every year in New Zealand that involve alcohol and no cannabis, and there is never a case of unprovoked violence in New Zealand that involves cannabis and not alcohol.

“The judge was particularly concerned about the effect drug and alcohol use can have on young people. ‘I am intensely troubled by the reference in the narrative to the use of [LSD], cannabis and alcohol.'”

Apart from again manipulating the reaction of the reader by leading them to associate LSD and cannabis with the violence, this sentence also uses the common prohibitionist rhetorical device of distinguishing ‘drugs’ from ‘alcohol’.

The reason why this is done is because much of the impetus behind cannabis prohibition comes from the liquor industry, as the first thing any industry does in a capitalist system is to try and destroy their competitors, and the alcohol industry knows that a large proportion of people would rather smoke cannabis than drink alcohol.

The article waits until the very last sentence to mention that Coley’s mother “planned to keep warning New Zealanders of the dangers around youth drinking.” So the quote of the one person in the whole story who places the blame on the alcohol is shunted down to the very bottom of the story.

Incredibly, the final sentence for punching another human being to death was 22 months – the same as the sentence initially handed out to Kelly van Gaalen last year for cannabis cultivation.

The ultimate effect of the kind of dishonest rhetoric shown by the author of the Southland Times article is that growing a medicinal plant comes to carry the same penalty as killing another person.