Holmes & Co.: [on] the Marijuana Question
Image by mfcrowl via Flickr"I've long believed the public is way ahead of the politicians on drug policy, especially when it comes to marijuana." The gutless wonders on Beacon Hill (Boston, Mass./Blair) couldn't even bring themselves to vote on the petition to remove all criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana. Holmes & Co.: [on] the Marijuana Question. - Rick Holmes, see [http://blogs.townonline.com/holmesandco/]
The funding contributions of G. Soros (even if at arms length via his funding of the wider goals of the Open Society Institute) his little to do with any argument rationalising drug prohibitions. If Soros had indirectly provided resources to UNESCO, would that make him a saint? He, nor the argument at hand is defined by the nominal contribution he made. His contribution, again indirectly, aided the "thru the maze" International Healthy Drug Policy Symposium held in
Image via WikipediaWellington, New Zealand recently. It drew participation of those politicians who professed the wisdom of accepting new evidence, weighting harm reduction and whom to a tee, argued for holding the prohibitory line. Notably the attendees, primarily drawn from the treatment sector, participation 'fee', even if indirectly subsidised by Soros, gave politicians (Hon Peter Dunnes speech notes) and Police a platform to defend prohibition. (albeit absent one credible cannabis consumer in the room. Some test? - in fact, for one advocate of d-classification, contrary to and apparently very offensive to Police National Drug Intelligence Bureau's well, intelligence, was threatened by one Police representative [Stuart Mills, the head of the NDIB], with getting a 'couple of his brothers down' presumably as silent dissent was not allowed outside the Symposium either. )
In the Spotlight Peter Dunne's Address to International Drug Policy Symposium
This symposium is indeed timely as it occurs shortly before a particularly significant high-level meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which will meet next month to discuss progress made in meeting the targets set out in the 1998 declaration of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session. New Zealand is one of over 180 members of the United Nations that are parties to the three United Nations Conventions, under which worldwide drug control is based.
As a signatory to the Conventions, New Zealand is an active member of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs and I will be representing this country at the high-level segment next month in Vienna, where the course for international drug control for the next ten years will be charted. I expect that Member States will agree to a new Declaration acknowledging both the achievements over the last ten years in containing the drug problem worldwide, but also how far we still have to go to achieve our goals for eliminating or significantly reducing the manufacture, marketing and supply of illegal drugs.
We know, too, of the widespread use of cannabis in our society, across many age and socio-economic groups, and the calls from a number of quarters for the law to take a softer approach to its use, because it is allegedly not as dangerous as other drugs.
Let me make it very clear this morning: relaxing the current laws on cannabis is not on this Government’s agenda. Too many mental health problems, respiratory diseases and health and social problems that we already have to deal with are associated with cannabis, and we do not accept the argument that softening the laws will somehow resolve these issues. It simply will not.
The opportunity was lost to argue much cannabis use, indeed most cannabis use is non-problematic. Nor discussed was the 'legislative rules and regulations model' - Class D, passed "by Order in Council" [Nov06.2008 Royal assent] an international conventions compliant classification respectful of adult choice for recreational use of psychoactive 'soft' drugs that makes full provision for place of sale, packaging, manufacture, cultivation, advertising, and health promotion with consumer protection administered by the Ministry of Health.
Read it slowly: New Zealand is the first country in the world to avoid the moral hazard, treat drug sales more like alcohol, and legally regulate potentially 'any drug' - by executive order guided by expert advice. The model or 'restricted substances regulations' creates an opportunity to self regulate and deliver significant economic benefits.
Consider this extract from The budgetary implications of drugs prohibition: Italy, 2000-05. Marco Rossi, Universita' La Sapienza.
"From a budgetary point of view, our results clearly showed that the main implication of prohibition consist in the loss of the monetary taxes on drugs sales: about 4/5 of the total fiscal cost of prohibition. In particular, cannabis prohibition was very costly: almost 2/3 of the total cost of drugs prohibition in Italy from 2000-05 are attributable to its prohibition only.
This study addresses only the criminal justice costs of enforcing drugs prohibition; it does not addresses any possible change in prevention, education, or treatment activities. Prohibition also has other budgetary implications, as it tends to generate crime, and it lowers drugs
Class D goes to UN?consumers' health. Anyway, in this study we omitted to estimate the budgetary implications of of these prohibition-induced effects, as we omitted to estimate the income taxes that could be levied on legalized drug dealers' profits."
Image via Wikipedia
New Zealand has stretched the possibilities up for discussion at the upcoming UNODC/UNGASS review process, but it has largely gone unnoticed even in New Zealand. Not a jot. No one cared. It is what former Prime Minister Rt Hon. Helen Clark described as "partial prohibition", with Police, Justice, Corrections et al. bound by Ottawa Charter conventions.
Putting 'Class D' in the mix resolves the tensions surrounding 'vexing issues' like the media's and politics propensity for information asymmetry while removing the moral hazard (state as drug dealer) problem surrounding the quality of drugs in a retail sales perspective.
No one gives a whit that there are thousands of variants of the drug 'alcohol' taxed such that best is dearest = dearest is best.
Yet we still classified illicit drugs as ABC, where A is not supposed mean 'really excellent' and by dint of prohibition, ensure they then sell at the highest 'social cost'?
Class D resolves the policy tensions economically and maximises the social dividend. It deserves a wider audience.
Associate Minister of Health, Peter Dunne at Healthy Drug Law said "New Zealand has a separate classification and regulations for substances considered to have psychoactive
Image via Wikipediaproperties, but representing a low risk of harm. These can be legally supplied and used, but with restrictions around age, marketing and availability. We believe this to be a potentially more effective approach to low risk substances rather than having them remain uncontrolled and unregulated. "
suggestion: Google ("Class D" Cannabis)
(PS: my dog is called Holmes. Sherlock was the first injecting drug user in British Literature. The culturally imbued health promotion message is 'if your going to do serious drugs, make sure your best friend is a Doctor'. )
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
Spokesperson on Climate Change, Environment and Associate 'Shadow' Law And Order.
Social Ecologist 'at large'
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219