Drug Sanity revisited, by Dave Currie
A very good afternoon to you. This programme is ‘Drug Sanity revisited’ and is presented for the Drug Policy and Education Council, DPEC. I’m Dave Currie. (also see previous post; 'Drug Sanity Revisited' by Dave Currie /Blair)
One can only wonder why New Zealand governments have followed United States Drug policy for so long without question. There has never been a period of calm when the government has taken time to assess the outcomes of U.S. prohibitionist policy and decide whether it needs toning down.
The book ‘Opium and the people’ gives the case of a stable opium eating addict labelled Mr A. He yielded to the popular prejudice against opium eating and tried repeatedly, without success, to break it off. He was able to do a good days work, mental as well as physical, and was entirely free from a variety of minor troubles having a nervous origin, which used to annoy him before he began his opium habit. Opium was commonly used for self medication and doctors would often prescribe it.
- 1. Prescribing heroin to addicts is preferable to prescribing methadone.
- 2. A controlled legal market in drugs is preferable to prohibition.
The Swiss seem to have cottoned on to Dr Marks’s ideas and provide addicts with heroin in a special injection room with clean, sterile needles available. Over a trial period, there was a 60% drop in drug related crime.
Even the Russians after reassessing cannabis have lowered its rating, so that now they have removed criminal penalties and the possibility of jail for simple possession. You can have the equivalent of 10 marijuana cigarettes before any penalty is applied. Of course in Russia the big drug problem is Vodka, i.e. alcohol as it is in New Zealand. Here our prohibitionist politicians use special pleading for alcohol to allow possession and use of alcohol in any amounts. They prefer to persecute the minority cannabis users, who by and large are unlikely to number more than 8% of the population.
I think it is outrageous that such a useful drug as cannabis is prohibited at all, and medical use should certainly be allowed. The American Doctors Association has called for reclassification of cannabis. In Finland the Health Ministry approves cannabis prescriptions. Also the Canadian, German and Italian governments have expressed interest in buying Dutch medical marijuana. In the USA New Mexico has legalised medical use of marijuana, while Oregon has increased the number of plants allowed for medical patients.
The World Health Organisation’s Expert Committee has recommended reclassification of an active component of cannabis, THC, up to a less severe category.
Cannabis has numerous medical applications. It can help people after a stroke by its anti-spasmodic effects and it can help some patients with multiple sclerosis. It may help prevent Alzheimers. Many recreational users feel a lot better about life when using cannabis and they don’t feel so distressed the next day as they would after alcohol use. Andrew Weil an expert on cannabis has said it is one of the least toxic drugs known to modern medicine.
However local drug secret police recently made the outrageous claim that their cannabis seizures and arrests of growers save New Zealand over 300 million dollars a year in health costs. Police know nothing about drugs and should not make wild statements to justify their dubious and futile industrial espionage against the production of a very valuable commodity. Their efforts put the price of marijuana up and this simply attracts more people into the growing industry.
Acceleration of real crime is one result of police efforts and it’s a wonder no one in authority has twigged that our horrific rate of crime and imprisonment is in large part due to government drug policy.
The new National led government has great plans to build more jails. But I suggest to them that this is unwise in view of the collapse of the financial markets. What money is available should be used to build hospitals and pay medical staff. The situation would be greatly improved by legalising marijuana.
At this point I will close. You can get a copy of my book ‘Marijuana- facts and case for legalisation’ by telephoning me at Wellington 5891902. That is 5891902. There will be a repeat of this programme on Saturday the 27th of December. Good afternoon and have a nice weekend. I’ll fade out with a track from ‘Wish you were here’ by Pink Floyd.