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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Drug Policy Idiotology " Child Endangerme​nt By Proxy"

Open Letter to the Prime Minister, The Leader of the Opposition, The NZ Drug Czar and My Member of Parliament.

Dear Sir's/Madams

A TradeMe Community correspondent wrote:
I haven't done Kronic. Although I had to look after a friend for the night as he lost his vision, ability to walk and communicate.
River PhoenixRiver Phoenix (Image via

I invite the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Associate Minister of Health to consider the above expressed concern in relation to our emerging drug threats' the alcohol (and other drug) law and public health.

Compare kronic, his experience and alcohol.

blind drunk!
drunken stagger!,
drink talking!

Um, drug of choice, scale of the problem..... appropriate intervention!

Let me set the table as it were: It is increasingly clear that no government is serious about fixing alcohol unless it is prepared to fix the neighbouring intoxicants FIRST.

I would commend to the TM Community correspondent (and did so) first of all "Thank you for being there for your friend." 

It is the preferred protocol. It saves lives (particularly surrounding alcohol) and was the harm reduction measure promoted by the Ministry of Health and Community Health called "hold on to your Mates!".
However when we make something illegal... the implications for anyone 'associated' with illicit drug use is POLICE INQUIRIES, DRUG TESTING, EXPULSION, DOLE QUEUE...etc... it does exactly the opposite.
Now we have something that is evidentially  'safer' than alcohol, in wide use (500,000 est) about to be treated by the system as as toxic as 'P' (until we know what it is.) no one wants to stand around and get into that mess... and your mate is left to it!
Dangerous context is a factor that has nothing to do with the pharmacology of the drug... in drug parlance we call this the "set and setting" and shortgame kneejerk policy wonks and all those who sidle up to the 'just ban it' idiotology are trading the health and safety of our youths for a few more 'get tough' votes, treatment budgets and more research money.
Wrong Wrong Wrong.....
Cases exactly as I describe occur every day in the USA. People die for no good reason, a large number are young people.  A TV special on the death of actor 'River Phoenix' captured this superbly. No one called an ambulance. He died for nothing, well not exactly nothing... worst case scenario in failing to protect and preserve the public health comes to mind.
If it was a road accident, you can be prosecuted for 'failing to render assistance'... when it comes to 'drugs' we sanction worst case public health and call it 'getting tough'. Tell that to the parents of someone who dies for no good reason than "I was afraid to make the call!".
If this makes sense, don't just sit there... have the temerity to reflect on where this is taking us.

We are standing by doing nothing rubber necking a 'slow wreck' and watching parliament put the health and wellbeing of half a million mostly youth at risk! 
Expiditious drug policy without oversight/community input sanctioned form the top suggests Dunne/Key/Goff et al" should be charged with child endangerment! 
Would liability be proven if due process was shown to be flawed? For example: Where is the required 'Policy Impact Statement' ?  Still at BERL?

I repeat:   No government is serious about fixing alcohol unless it is prepared to "Regulate AND Control"  neighbouring intoxicants FIRST.

Bans are no regulation and no control.
To suggest anything else is dangerous 'spin'.
Dangerous to whom? I argue....


Blair Anderson

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

South America Turns MildGreen

English: Latin America (orthographic projection)Image via Wikipedia

Whenever I read drug policy and there is a discussion of what to do beyond prohibition, the same conclusions seem to be reached; market forces work better and more efficiently than legal/criminal/justice approaches.


Its looking more and more like De-classification into a regulatory 'restricted substances' model like New Zealand's *provisions for the USE of drugs ammendments to the principal act, the UN approved 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act. / Blair


12 current Latin American leaders call for exploration of legal drug regulation

Transform, February 9 2012
A remarkable and almost unreported event took place at the beginning of December last year at the somewhat obscure, 13th summit of the Tuxtla Mechanism for Dialogue. (See here For more on the Mechanism).
It was reported in El Universal on 6 Dec 'Frenar consumo de droga o regularlo, exigen paises a EU' and in the Washington Post on 19 Dec 'Latin American leaders assail US drug 'market'', but has had no international pick up beyond.
A dozen Latin American countries issued a joint statement on organised crime and drug trafficking (here is the original Spanish text on the Mexican Government website). Point 7 is translated here:
“What would be desirable, would be a significant reduction in the demand for illegal drugs. Nevertheless, if that is not possible, as recent experience demonstrates, the authorities of the consuming countries ought then to explore the possible alternatives to eliminate the exorbitant profits of the criminals, including regulatory or market oriented options to this end. Thus, the transit of substances that continue provoking high levels of crime and violence in Latin American and Caribbean nations will be avoided.”
What is remarkable is that the call to reduce demand (that no one would take issue with in principle) comes with the caveat that there is little evidence that this is possible, thereby leaving the call to explore alternatives - including 'regulatory or market oriented options'. This is in effect, an unambiguous call to legalise and regulate drugs. This is a fairly standard construction of the issue (similar to that adopted by Calderon recently) to avoid using the loaded term of 'legalisation' (something Colombian President Santos has been less hesitant about).
The statement is a clear acknowledgement of the often unspoken understanding that the war on drugs is fuelling much of the violence and chaos in Latin America. This then is a very clear call on consumer countries to take the lead in ending the war and replacing it with a legal system of regulation and control.
The summit was attended by the Presidents of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom; Honduras, Porfirio Lobo; Mexico, Felipe Calderon; Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; Panama, Ricardo Martinelli; the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez; and the First Vice President of Costa Rica, Alfio Piva Messer. Also present were the Foreign Ministers of Belize, Wilfred Elrington; Colombia, Maria Angela Holguin; and El Salvador, Hugo Martinez. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera was also present as a special guest.
Following President Santos’s lead, twelve countries have now effectively called for an end to the war on drugs. The significance of this is great, but the silence following it has been deafening. Perhaps because there was no pro-active media promotion of the statement, it has not been reported anywhere nearly as widely as last years ground breaking Global Commission report. That report - supported by a global media campaign - was however, made up almost entirely of former presidents. The Tuxtla group are all incumbents.
This is a game changer. It is difficult to see how for example, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs can go through its standard motions with this Declaration on the table - it a direct challenge to the restrictions placed on signatory states experimenting with alternatives to prohibition. The same is likely to be the case for any other transnational events based on entrenched prohibitionist orthodoxy. The issue ought now to be high on the agenda of any and all summits involving Latin American countries – G20, Summit of the Americas and so on.
Whilst this is a step change in the level of challenge to the prohibitionist orthodoxy, there are problems with it too. It is a construction of the issue fully intended to take the heat off producer and transit countries and place the blame for their problems squarely at the door of the US and other major consumer countries. This is entirely understandable given the historical and geopolitical context of contemporary prohibition. However, it raises two important issues:
Firstly, Are the Latin Americans seriously going to wait until the US leads them to a brave new world of peace? And secondly, the fact is that ALL countries (including the Latin Americans) are signatories to the Conventions upon which the drug war is founded. Whilst the geopolitical pressure for non-super powers to sign up and adhere to the Conventions is huge, it is nonetheless a fact that they are complicit in maintaining the legal infrastructure of the war on drugs and pursue the war with a ferocity unseen in other parts of the world. Their position would be more credible if they were to make moves nationally, regionally, and at the UN, to de-securitise drugs and develop and implement policies that adhere to human rights and public health norms.
That said, this is still a watershed moment in calling time on the war on drugs and those countries that are taking the lead deserve great credit for going on the record publicly (albeit quietly). We would encourage readers of this blog to contact their elected representatives to inform them of this development and to take the time to praise those leaders who were there, for making this statement.
Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Drugs, Driving and Manufactur​ed Consent?

When overall harm to society and the drug user...Image via WikipediaI watched the DrugFoundation celebrity guest Kennedy Lawford  on this mornings TVNZ breakfast show. That Lawford was representing the UN and its mandatory drugs are evil message without question doesnt surprise me. He even went to onto say this wasn't about prohibition when all things considered  (including our national drug policy) it is about prohibition.

Some points of note:

!2 steps is not successful, it is amongst the least successful, less so than even self determined harm reduction by abstention and reduction..
(we recently recieved best practice advice that drug treatment in prison should be delivered by health professionals!)

We have state funded Scientology in our NZ schools and it goes unquestioned.
We have Bus stop posters about driving. that  are gravely flawed.
Television adds that do not say the driver is an actor and hasn't actually driven these actresses around stoned.
On social media we see grossly conflated data suggesting we should answer a possible problem with a question "What do you think?"

There is no balance questioning this.
The increased enforcement in other jurisdictions has not made any difference to the measured harms.

We are being conditioned into thinking we should comply with an impositional test, the "guilty by machine." that visiting top UK cop Det ChiefSuper Eddie Ellison described as having the same 'proof of impairment'  logic as  licking someone exhaust pipe to see if they had been speeding yesterday.

I quote an academic source from our own Victoria University.  

The Effect of Distressing Imagery on Attention to and Persuasiveness of an Anti-alcohol Message on Drugs, Society and Human Rights. (638 comments)

« While drug driving is a serious and important issue that needs debate  - I agree, I think the NZ Drug Driving Awareness Campaign does little to present the 'facts' but instead sadly fuels anti-drug sentiments which will result in more hostility, ignorance and stigma towards illicit drugs and illicit drug users. On twitter they we saying things like over 70% of dead drivers were impaired by drugs (other than alcohol) - disappointing soundbites - issues too complex to deal with that way.

Blair Anderson
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