Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Friday, September 09, 2011

Elephants, Dunne, Ryall and King.

" its social harm of $12,000 a kilogram, most of which consists of the opportunity cost of production." - as seen on the NoRightTurn blog critiqueing the arrest of 300 New Zealand tinnie shop owners and their patrons.

Not so, but partially correct. It is duplicious that Police found the social harm to be equal to the retail value of cannabis herb at the tinnie shop - also a $12,000kg reflecting the criminal risk of sanction, risks associated with production  (120days) and risks associated with distribution. Add to that the lack of security or access to dispute resolution, the margin is 'all the risks' associated with prohibition, ie: the rules, itself.  Its origin is a weed that runs on solar energy. Couldnt be greener or cheaper.
But what makes up the BERL social harm index  burden(s), according to  the economists, includes  incurred cost of policing, the very upholding of the rules. Not that the Police are to particular about that 'social investment' having never ever measured the efficacy of its delivery. How would the Police know which dollar was the dollar that is working if they cannot measure anything but the deficit funded 'drug interdiction budget', a bottomless pit by all accounts.  "Such management would not pass muster at a UK police college." - Detective Chief Superintendent Eddie Ellison following a meeting with Greg O'Conner
I attended a National Party Conference in the now defunct Christchurch Convention Centre, and in an informal meeting between the writer, Dr Paul Hutchison and Tony Ryall (who was then Justice spokesperson) and on discussion on this very subject Hutchison said of such policy analysis, the required impact statements and cost benefit of service delivery "it is absolutely essential" addressing the comment to the now Minister of Health with the Warrant under which all drug enforcement is enacted. So why is Dunne the font of all things 'drug' if he is only the penny. Media should be asking the pound note - in particular as Ryall is a shoe-in on the list.
By ignoring the societal benefits, there can be no comparison with the neighbouring intoxicants (esp alcohol)  - how can the inter agency and ministerial committees be so blind?. Even the State Services Commission failed to identify the elephant in the room (not that my letter, a petition of one on this very point didn't send them into a legal tailspin ). No government is serious about fixing alcohol without resolving the tensions surrounding cannabis.
So Hon. Mr Ryall, how safe is safe?  How will that test be applied? And by whom?
Following two largely exonerative (and unanimous) health select committees on cannabis Minister of Health Annette King created the Expert Advisory Committee "to take the politics out of drug policy". Peter Dunne's announcement, this day put the politics back into policy, ignores best practice  and, it may well turn out... gift the ALCP with a platform in the law and order and alcohol debates.
The Police arresting 300 people - most of them players and consumers of an otherwise benign industry (see California) at the same time, when there was no other linkage other than 'the ever popular' cannabis tells us more about collusion with media, orchestrated good timing and blatant 'tough on crime' electioneering.
That Police should lie about the impact of the policy absent any accounting 'what they do'  only brings policing into disrepute. Curiously in other areas of public policy the Police are forbidden from commenting on policy. The last time they were before a select committee and they sold that pup that wont hunt - cannabis causes crime,  they were subsequently directed to go and do there homework and returned a few weeks later, the Police Commissioner before committee now  'having no objection to decriminalisation'.
Reform clearly is the stuff of social capital. We only have to stop institutional and political doublespeak [lying by any other name]... and this is all over.  Easy, ask them to tell 'nothing but the truth'. Transparency please.
The required law change is ALREADY on the books, royal seal of approval given the day John Key became Right and Honourable. Ironically under the Misuse of Drugs Act we made provision in a world first, to make the USE of soft recreational drugs 'regulated'. Yes, and R18. (see search for 'restricted substances regulations' )
 And that is what Dunne so pleased about, pandering to drug policy prejudices assures his re-election. He only has to say "that is unacceptable" and he gets a sound bite.
Yet, the  ALCP consistently polls more than United Future.  Odd eh?
Ask Dunne if his new drug policy is going to meet the "Regulate and Control"  Law Commissioner, Sir Geoffrey Palmer's New Zealand Bill of Rights 'legislative test' and we will see how centre middle and honest this man really is.
Drug review... Bring it on!
Blair Anderson 
Social Ecologist 'at large'

ph nz  (643) 389 4065   nz cell 027 265 7219

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