A contrary opinion on decriminalisation of cannabis

Medical marijuana is shown in a jar at The Joint Cooperative in Seattle

Medical marijuana is shown in a jar at The Joint Cooperative in Seattle

Last week I blogged about a top UK cop and his call for an end to the war on drugs.

There are of course many opinions and his is just one. Not one to only present one side of the argument on anything here is another, also from the UK.

I don’t happen to agree with him, his views take the extreme and ignore the successes of decriminalisation…nonetheless it is worth hearing the other side of the debate on de criminalisation of cannabis.

In the small Mexican town of Los Reyes last week, a bag containing the severed heads of three men was left beside a roundabout. They had been killed by gangsters as a warning to local people who had established self-defence squads to protect themselves from the brutal violence associated with the country’s war on drugs. Over the past three years, an estimated 60,000 people have been killed in Mexico. If ever there was a country that had cause to believe it was losing the fight, then here it is. So why haven’t the Mexicans alighted upon the solution proposed at the weekend by Mike Barton, the chief constable of Durham, and decriminalised drugs? 

Mr Barton said that prohibition had failed to tackle drug use and had merely put billions of pounds into the hands of criminals. He compared what was happening now to the aftermath of the 1919 Volstead Act in America, which banned alcoholic beverages and is widely credited with being one of the most ill-judged pieces of legislation of the 20th century. It meant that the production, distribution and importation of alcohol were no longer the province of legitimate businesses, but were taken over by criminal gangs, which fought each other for market control. Gangsters such as Al Capone grew rich on the proceeds of illicit trafficking, backed up by violence, extortion and bribery.

The aim of prohibition was to stop people drinking; but since they didn’t want to, the law was widely flouted. The police and the courts did their best to bring prosecutions, but juries refused to convict and in the end the ban was rarely enforced. Within 15 years, the prohibition experiment was over and the Act was repealed. Yet while this meant it was possible once more to go to a bar for a beer, one thing it did not do was to end organised crime. The mobsters who had made fortunes out of alcohol soon diversified into other areas, like gambling and drugs. It is what they do: they are criminals. So while Mr Barton is right to say that drugs have lined the pockets of crime lords, he is almost certainly wrong to imply that legalising drugs would put them out of business.

No, but it keeps them in areas that are clearly illegal and away from the general populace who wanted to enjoy a drink in moderation, same goes for cannabis.

For a start, if drugs were legal, who would control the supply? Unlike many who favour some form of decriminalisation, Mr Barton is talking not just about cannabis (which can be grown at home), but heroin and cocaine, which would need to be imported from overseas. Since the cocaine supply routes are already in the hands of the criminal cartels in South America, and the Taliban effectively controls opium production in Afghanistan (which, to be fair, it has stopped in the past), legalising the drugs would legitimise their activities.

Has this fool not ever heard of tobacco and alcohol? Licencing, control, taxation…

Mr Barton has reached his conclusion that prohibition does not work after more than 30 years as a police officer. “What I am saying is that drugs should be controlled. They should not, of course, be freely available.” He added: “If an addict were able to access drugs via the NHS or something similar, then they would not have to go out and buy illegal drugs.”

But what he cannot know is the extent to which legalisation will fuel demand for drugs, which is at least partially suppressed by the fact that they are unlawful. If that were to happen, the criminal gangs would still be active, either developing new drugs outside the controlled groups or pushing cheaper and probably adulterated substances. After all, tobacco is legal yet cigarettes are still smuggled on a massive scale.

And yet there aren’t more smokers as a result of tobacco control, nor are their huge amounts of drinkers as a result of liberalisation of drinking laws. This writer clearly has a problem with logic. There would, i imagine, be a slight increase in cannabis use should it become decriminalised as people try something that is now not illegal…but it would settle down, like alcohol and like tobacco to a small percentage of the population of regular users who moderate their intake, and there would be the usual smaller percentage who would abuse it…like gambling, like drinking and like smoking.

The problem with this debate is that no one really knows what the consequences would be. There are those who will argue that a far tougher approach is needed and that Mr Barton’s comments are indicative of the shambolic approach to enforcement that has allowed crime to flourish. And there are others who will state, equally emphatically, that legalising drugs is a panacea. Most of us, I imagine, are somewhere in the middle, recognising that the “war” has not been won but worried that to call it off would trigger an upsurge in drug-taking at a time when there are signs of declining use. In any case, politicians remember how the roof fell in when a small downgrading of cannabis from a Class B to Class C drug was proposed a few years ago.

We don’t know, so we shouldn’t try? What a stupid premise upon which to base a flawed argument.

  • redeye

    What this elitist prick fails to recognise is it’s none of his fucken business if a grown adult wants to smoke a joint. Who is he to decide what another can indulge in?

    • justin

      Or smoke p aye.

      • redeye

        If your point is that my argument should also apply to methamphetamine then yours should also apply to coffee and KFC.

        David Nutt showed that horse riding is far more dangerous than ecstasy. You don’t want to ban that as well?

      • Polish Pride

        Two questions for you –
        Have you ever actually tried cannabis?
        Do you ever drink alcohol?

      • James

        If somebody wants to then yes, they should be able to. But if you had “better” drugs that were more easily available then I doubt people would be all that interested in P; and if they were then at least it you could be sure that it wasn’t cooked in the boot of a car by somebody who knows nothing about chemistry.

        • justin

          That’s why laws are there in the first place to save people from themselves.

          • James

            Laws should be there to protect other people from being adversely affected by somebody else’s actions. But government can eff off if it tries to protect me from my decisions.

  • Bunswalla

    He thinks legislation will fuel demand for cannabis, since it would no longer be illegal. By the same ‘toke’n (see what I did there?) there would be fewer people that want to try it simply because it’s forbidden and illegal.

    Why does continental Europe not suffer from the binge drinking mentality and huge social order problems that New Zealand, Australia and Britain do? Mainly because it’s introduced early in the piece as a normal part of family life, to be enjoyed in moderation. Ask every 17 and 3/4 year old in New Zealand what they’re going to do on their 18th birthday and 99% will tell you “go to the pub and get hammered”.

    Take away the mystery and illicitness of cannabis and there will be fewer determined to try it.

    • justin

      BS – kids will be right into it. It will be another 18th birthday rite for many who would otherwise keep away from this drug.
      It will undermine all the parents who will say to their children “don’t smoke”.
      You simply will transfer that mystery and illicitness to even nastier stuff like p.

      • Polish Pride

        I personally think that the age for Cannabis should be set to 25 as a minimum. But that isn’t likely to happen.
        So if kids will be right into it as you say (I personally wasn’t and didn’t try it until well into my 30’s) then it is pretty simple you only need to educate them in how to use it properly and safely. You need to get them to understand how it works physiologically. It is after all one of the safest things on the planet. Not only that your brain (and everyone elses) has a receptor specifically designed to take THC.
        People should not be criminalised for partaking in their drug of choice and when other drugs are legal yet far more detrimental and costly to society, there is simply no valid argument to have a safer drug and a natural one at that, remain illegal.

        • justin

          I query your science about human brain specifically designed to take THC… hmm.
          The straw man argument about “the evil of alcohol is worse” is not a firm ground to say legalise a strong psychotic drug on NZ.
          30 Years old (or 25) is just a joke PP, come on we all know that this is completely the wrong message (naive).

          • Polish Pride

            , 25 as an age limit is just my personal opinion, as I said if made legal such an age limit is never going to happen. But its far from naïve. It comes from a great deal of experience and having been on both sides of the fence. i.e. I used to be dead against it. I’d never tried it at that point, but I was dead against it all the same. That position was naïve.
            The argument of alcohol is from the viewpoint that for those that use cannabis to have a drug (and lets not kid ourselves alcohol is a drug) that causes a massive amount of damage to society legal whilst cannabis which is far safer remains illegal is just hypocritical and wrong. It is simply criminalising people for their drug of choice.
            As for part of your brain being made to take THC google information on CB1 receptor or cannabinoid receptors and THC.

          • justin

            So what changed your mind PP? You liked the high. Fair enough I get it. But it still doesn’t mitigate the detrimental effects of marijuana (just down below you are ‘educating’ cracker1963 that he “may even feel flat or a little depressed afterwards”)… no worries have another smoke.
            Reality is that NZ as a country needs to have it’s people (especially it’s youth) to have high aspirations, strong work ethic, and strong routines. This drug will rob the majority of its users of all three of these – hence they call it dope.
            But don’t worry because some user will jump in and say “I smoke it and I’m doing fine”.

          • Polish Pride

            Justin try and look at this with an open mind. Your position is already clouding your judgement.
            You said….
            “But it still doesn’t mitigate the detrimental effects of marijuana (just down below you are ‘educating’ cracker1963 that he “may even feel flat or a little depressed afterwards”)… no worries have another smoke.”
            I DIDN”T say ‘no worries have another smoke’….
            What I said was (and you can go below and read it again if you like) don’t have anymore for at least a week.
            In fact what you have done is highlight EXACTLY the situation that gets most people into trouble. They at some point smoke too much. They feel depressed. Because they don’t understand how it works physiologically, they don’t understand that the marijuana has depleted their serotonin stores and that is why they feel depressed.
            Because they don’t realise this they go ‘well I felt happy on marijuana’ so they make the mistake of smoking more. The high wears off (and they had to smoke more to get the same effect) and they feel even more depressed…..and so starts a downward spiral……
            When instead (like I said to cracker below) what they need to do if they ever feel depressed after cannabis is stop smoking it and don’t have anymore for at least a week to allow their serotonin stores time to recover. (Getting enough sleep is essential for this).

            Why did I do it? I suffered from severe depression. I had been told all my life drugs are bad. I stayed away from them all.

            But imagine being in a position where you had not felt the felling of happiness for about 2 years.

            I started with synthetics back when they were safe before the govt made them unsafe by making the safe ones illegal. I was so low at the time the only reason I didn’t kill myself was because I couldn’t do that to friends and family but I didn’t give a shit about much at that point so I decided to buy some, don’t know why just did.

            I tried it not knowing what to expect. I had a wonderful experience where I felt happy for the first time in a long long time.

            After that I researched everything I could about it. I found out how it worked, why it worked, what to be aware of warning signs etc.

            I read books on it, articles on medical marijuana. Then I used it and it helped me recover. I moved onto the real stuff and off synthetics after one bad experience. I don’t recommend people use synthetics, the real stuff is far safer.
            In some ways Marijuana saved my life and allowed me to be a productive member of society again.

          • justin

            OK you had issues, but you’re advocating the legalization (the pro dope lobby group is called NORM for normalizing it).
            You are opening up a psychotic drug for legalization. I can see your advocacy comes from your recovery from depression linked to marijuana use… but this drug is recognized to be bad for those with mental health issues.
            I agree on the synthetics being another Pandora’s box.

          • Polish Pride

            “You are opening up a psychotic drug for legalization.”

            Lets be clear on this. Marijuana is not a psychotic drug. You may have a very small percentage that have a psychotic episode after abusing it. But such a person probably has other issues that would make cannabis not good for them.

            “I can see your advocacy comes from your recovery from depression linked to marijuana use… but this drug is recognized to be bad for those with mental health issues.”
            At the start yes but it also comes from the growing number of wonderful and positive experiences I have had from using Cannabis.
            There are some mental health issues it can be very useful for such as depression and anxiety. But no doubt there are others where it is not a good idea in much the same way Alcohol is not good for someone with cirrhosis of the liver or someone who gets angry and violent when they drink. But again this is where education and informing people properly and accurately comes in.

          • Polish Pride

            “Reality is that NZ as a country needs to have it’s people (especially it’s youth) to have high aspirations, strong work ethic, and strong routines. This drug will rob the majority of its users of all three of these”

            Only if they abuse it and don’t approach the use of it with respect. Like all drugs If you abuse Marijuana it will unfortunately abuse you right back.
            On the other hand treat it and use it with respect and it will give you a number of benefits.

          • redeye

            That’s the trouble with these I-know-better-than-you-what’s-best-for-you types like Justin, it’s ok for them to use straw men arguments as he has down the page with P, but know one else.

            Our society has used prohibition to tackle both drugs and alcohol with little or no success. We’ve used different tools like education, taxes and labelling to reduce tobacco consumption with far greater results.

            If you have 2 children statistically at least one of them will have tried cannabis by the time they reach adulthood.

            Let me ask you Justin, if you caught one of your children smoking dope would you take them straight down to the police and ask for them to be charged? Lumbering them with a conviction for life? Or do you think this law should just apply to the great unwashed.

          • justin

            The police won’t do a thing about it. This is part of the problem there is no real enforcement of the current laws.

          • redeye

            Nice sidestep but not an answer.

          • justin

            Clear answer, I would not. But I wouldn’t cry over them being caught. The law is very clear dope is an illegal drug.

          • justin

            Query – would you give drugs to another person? Would you supply my children? Redeye – you’ve not written much here today advocating but certainly many posters are promoting hard out.

          • redeye

            I’m more of an anti-prohibitionist than anything. I think it’s expensive and by in large ineffective.

            I dont partake in any form of mind bending other than a very occasional glass of wine any more. I have had more than my share earlier in life and when I did I more than happily shared it with friends. So if you children were of age in the 70’s and were my friends there was a good chance I may have passed a joint to them

          • Polish Pride

            The law is clear. Unfortunately on this the law is an arse.

        • James

          If you are old enough to vote then there should be nothing restricted to you as you are deemed responsible enough for the most important part of society.

          • justin

            Here is the problem, advocates like James, would have 18 age limit (effectively take two years off that age). The research is very clear about the detrimental effect especially during formative brain development (that’s up to 25 – PP got this right).

          • James

            And the same goes for the dreaded booze too. And pollution. And caffeine. And everything else that affects the brain.

      • Bunswalla

        Complete BS – the old ‘cannabis’ as a gateway drug argument will be just as wrong if cannabis is legalised as it is when it’s illicit. All the parents that say to their children “don’t smoke” will still say it, and it will still work or not work depending on the family dynamic and what kind of kids they are.

        Smoking tobacco is legal but most parents (me included) tell our children not to smoke, and they don’t. It helps that they’re both into sport but they both seem genuinely amazed that people would smoke anything, whether it’s legal or not.

        • justin

          You’re logic is flawed Bunswalla… by extension if you legalise all drugs then kids will see them not as illicit and mysterious.
          We as a country need to keep a strong stance on strong mind altering drugs.
          You are lucky that your children aren’t tempted by marijuana, because heaps are and many parents have been unfortunate witnesses to the pain and disaster that comes with addiction.

          • Polish Pride

            And if those knew how it worked and were able to educate their kids then they wouldn’t run into trouble.

          • justin

            Just so naïve PP. There is massive education on the perils of taking drugs (dope included).
            Too many social druggies wanting to avoid getting trouble and unable to see that there are literally generations picking up the mess of addiction.

          • Polish Pride

            No Justin that is the problem.
            What is naïve is just giving people the perils. The reason is a lot of them try it and so do their friends. The experience they have doesn’t align at all with the information they have been given.
            This alone in their minds often completely discredits the information on the perils of the drug which is clearly not a good thing because the perils exist.
            Instead you need to give them the full picture:
            What the perils are.
            What to expect if they do decide to go ahead and use it.
            How to use it safely or as safely as possible if they decide to.
            How often is safe.
            What happens if they have too much
            What happens if they have it too often.
            And what warning signs they should be aware of and look out for.
            Your calling me naïve yet prohibition isn’t working and so far your not really giving the impression you even have more than a basic understanding of the drug. Put your ego to one side for a second. The information I am giving you will give you the ability to help far more kids than what you are current relying on but then it depends on whether you really want to help them or just want to push what is almost a propogandic stance on cannabis. Your choice but you’ll help far more people/kids with whatever it is that you do if you have a better understanding of it.

          • justin

            Don’t try and paint yourself as a good guy helping informed kids on the pros of marijuana. “help far more kids”. Come on PP this is nuts “how often is safe”. You are openly promoting use by minors. This is the problem I see, a thin end of a wedge.
            As I’ve written the key problem is that the drug will rob people of their passion, enthusiasm, attitude, desire and drive. I’ve seen how insidious this drug is, I’m not talking propaganda but I think NZ is helping far more of younger generation by legislation.
            The problem is a non policing of current legislature. That so many people openly flout drug law is bad enough.

          • Polish Pride

            No. What I am doing is accepting reality that I could tell these kids that its a bad idea and just give them the downsides like you do, but that in doing so there are a number of them that are going to try it anyway. I am about making sure they have the FULL picture. That they understand what the effects are likely to be and why. It is by getting them to understand this that I can get them to understand the warning signs (such as feeling depressed from smoking too much) and ensure that they know what they should or more accurately shouldn’t do at that point. That way I can ensure they will be safe.

            To give you a scenario using your methods which is all that is out their at the moment and current percentages. If you take 1000 kids and you give them all the scare tactics as you do. The results will be that 250 of them will still try it regardless and of those 250, 25 of them will run into serious problems with it.

            Alternatively you can educate them properly on the issue and you might be lucky to have 1 or two that run into trouble possibly none at all because they will know the warning signs and have the knowledge to adjust their behavior accordingly and thus can use it safely.

            Like it or not your method throws 25 of them under a bus and then tries to clean up the mess when the damage is done.
            I’d rather accept the fact that people are going to try it and make sure they have the knowledge to avoid the bus altogether.

          • James

            The reason that cannabis is a gateway drug is that its supply is in the hands of criminals who make better margins on harder drugs.
            And there is lots of harm from drinking to excess too – but many people enjoy a drink without taking it to excess. Should they be punished and have their tipple removed from them because somebody else can’t handle theirs?

          • justin

            Or that cannabis is sold by pro marijuana as “all good for you”, PP even goes as far as “good for your lungs” below.
            Then when people get a taste of getting high they need more/stronger then alternative highs.
            Drug dealers understand you start them on dope they’ll come back for more/harder later.

          • Polish Pride

            “Or that cannabis is sold by pro marijuana as “all good for you”, PP even goes as far as “good for your lungs” below.”

            Correction even Polish Pride Cited and provided a link to a scientific report on a Harvard study that shows it is good for your lungs in certain circumstances.

            “Then when people get a taste of getting high they need more/stronger then alternative highs.”
            The majority won’t, Most will probably be quite happy with Cannabis. Sure there will be some that might want to try other substances but they are the same ones that will seek it out now. At least in a decriminalized or legalized and regulated environment you have a much greater chance of educating people properly about the pros and cons and how to do it safely if they are going to. You also have the ability to ensure what they get is safe as opposed to being mixed with who knows what to make it go further.

    • SDCLFC1 .

      It’s a myth that continental Europe does not suffer societal dysfunction at the hands of alcohol abuse.
      I used to work for an alcohol company that was French owned. Now their global campaign encouraging appropriate use of alcohol was certainly about good PR and making the right noises to governments around the world, but it also came about because in France, contrary to popular belief, they have very big problems with alcohol abuse, particularly with the young and particularly in the cities.
      One of the issues put forward was the mixture of alcohol, a depressant that impairs your judgment, with a stimulant that boosts your energy and enthusiasm.
      Vodka and Red Bull anyone?
      I benefited from an education session with Mike Sabin on this. His take was that it is not the alcohol that causes the harm, as recorded by the A&E stats, but the drug stimulants mixed with the alcohol.

    • http://www.cadlow.co.nz spanishbride

      My parents didn’t say don’t drink or don’t smoke. I was offered a taste of my Dad’s Beer or wine and he gave me a smoke to try. ( He made sure that it was a nasty experience heheh ) Anyway I had no urge at all to drink to get drunk or to take up smoking because it was not forbidden. Our kids are the same. In fact our son won’t even have a sip when we offer it to him. Reverse psychology is a wonderful thing. Wo says to them, you will do it, you will try it. You will take drugs and get drunk. They both reply strongly no we won’t and they are determined to prove him wrong. Luckily for them they are like WO and I in that they are not influenced by their peer group. It’s a hard road when you are a teen but pays off later in life when you have no difficulty at all saying NO to people :)

  • Patrick

    Not sure you should be using tobacco & alcohol to bolster your argument. Governments the world over are climbing over themselves to price tobacco (& in some cases booze) off the market leading to the farcical situations like the UK & France where you can hop in your car, cross the Channel to Calais, load the car to the roof with fags (& booze), convince customs that it is for personal use & return home. All this to circumvent the UK taxation laws. How would it be different if the Government regulated dope?Therefore trying to make comparisons with what would happen if & when dope is legalised are difficult. Saying the liberalisation of drinking laws hasn’t led to more drinkers may be correct but the liberalisation of the acceptance of being under the influence of drink certainly has led to more problems. The fact that getting paralytic 7 nights a week is seen as a badge of honour amongst many says it all, the issues with alcohol are well documented, ask the Police & Emergency Services what they think about the liberalisation of alcohol laws. In fact take a drive into the suburbs of South Auckland & ask the locals what they think about the booze barns in their neighbourhoods.
    Sure maybe the laws around drugs need looking at but aren’t there a number of countries currently doing this, why the advocating for NZ to be guinea pigs, a social experiment that has huge consequences. Just look at the health effect tobacco has had since the days when it was promoted as being cool by Hollywood amongst others. Ask anyone dying of lung cancer what they think about liberalising tobacco.
    Even the Dutch are questioning the liberalisation of the drug laws in Amsterdam where they are currently pushing to reverse the previous liberalisation.

    • Polish Pride

      Because NZ is already one of the biggest consumers of Cannabis per capita in the world and most of those people are just regular kiwis. This comes down to the argument that people shouldn’t be criminalised simply for their drug of choice.
      This would not be as you put it a social experiment, its already happening.
      99% of those that do use it (cannabis) do so completely safely and in the privacy of their own homes
      Even decriminalising all other drugs is again not really a social experiment because again people already use them. The problem exists and has for a long time. The way we currently deal with it has been stunningly unsuccessful though and it is time we tried something new. Treating it as a medical problem is in my view the best option for those that run into trouble. Legalisation and placing controls around supply as we do with alcohol makes the whole thing far safer.
      If someone really wants to try ecstasy are they better to get a pure version of it at a safe dose or get some that has come from a gang and has been cut with who knows what. Is it better to get it down a dark alleyway where the supplier and the person just want the transaction over with asap. Or is it better to get it from somewhere with trained staff who can educate the person wanting it on how to use it safely and what to do if they run into trouble.

      • Patrick

        Placing controls around supply i.e. regulation will lead to increased costs, I am sure you agree that any government regulation will push the costs up dramatically. It is what government does by its’ nature. Therefore the backyard chemists batching up dodgy brews will flourish not diminish. Kiwis currently obviously have no worries about putting their health in the hands of the gangs that manufacture P, ecstasy etc so why would that change if the supply was regulated? They will still seek out the bargains & ultimately take chances with their health.
        I for one have a real uncomfortable feeling about government regulating & therefore being part of the supply chain that feeds drugs to it’s citizens. Dope, maybe just maybe (I still need a lot of convincing) but anything else definitely not.
        As for the social experiment side of things, there is a huge difference between those that currently illegally source & use drugs & throwing the doors wide open. I would prefer to sit back & watch how things pan out over the next few years in places such as Washington & Colorado in the USA.

        • Polish Pride

          The cost to produce it would not I imagine be significant (they do call it weed after all). Yes in a regulated and taxed environment the govt would clearly have an effect on price but I do not realistically see the price being more than what it is now today in a criminalised environment. Quality of product is also sought after, so good growers and their product would be what becomes sought after.

          As for dodgy chemists in the backyard….. this is an argument for good regulation around it. In other words If you want to supply ecstasy or LSD then you have to be licensed and provide good quality safe product that is then taxed at the point of sale by the government. Provided this is done then those wanting to try it will be more than happy going to outlets selling it knowing that it is good quality and safe. Not mixed with who knows what to make it go further like it is now.

          “Kiwis currently obviously have no worries about putting their health in the hands of the gangs that manufacture P, ecstasy etc so why would that change if the supply was regulated?”

          Right now there is no other option. People wanting to try this stuff want to do it safely. Provide them with that option and a regulated environment to operate under and gangs and dodgy backyard cooks won’t get a look in.

          “I for one have a real uncomfortable feeling about government regulating & therefore being part of the supply chain that feeds drugs to it’s citizens.”

          I think it should be looked at on a drug by drug basis starting . with legalising Cannabis . If that goes well look at Shrooms, then Ecstasy, then LSD. etc.

          P never but like all drugs, decriminalise it. It enables the problem to be dealt with and for those that need it to safely seek the help they need to get off drugs.

          As for being uncomfortable about the govt regulating and being part of the supply chain, this needs to be no different than the drug they do it for right now – Alcohol.

          “As for the social experiment side of things, there is a huge difference between those that currently illegally source & use drugs & throwing the doors wide open.”
          No there isn’t, your view is based on the misconception that if these drugs are made legal there will be a mad rush to try them by everyone. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those that use currently will continue to do so. Those that don’t won’t. Case in point cigarettes are legal yet I have never in my life tried one and never will.
          You only need to think about how you would react. If Heroin was decriminalised or even legalised tomorrow are your friends going to have to come around and restrain you because you will be overcome by a sudden urge to rush out and try it? Of course not. Neither would I.

          • justin

            You are showing a certain level of misunderstanding of drug use. The high you get decreases with more and more use… so hence the supplier (the ministry of health in your scenario) would infact have to up the strength and quantity to keep the addict (remember this word) from going to an alternative supplier (gang).
            The reality is that there are some strong drugs that offer super high highs and once kiwis get onboard that train things go pear shaped quickly.
            You need to ask some friends/family of heroin addicts if they thought it would be a good idea for the local GP to supply the drug.

          • Polish Pride

            I think at this point we’d need to determine are we talking about Cannabis or other drugs.
            I understand that the high decreases more with use but frequency plays a massive part in this at least as far as cannabis goes. Strain also comes into play.
            If we are talking about other drugs then It depends on the drug but this also needs to be discussed because in a legalised market different strengths would likely be available and discussions on the safety of this or what were safe amounts strengths etc. would also need to become part of any new regulatory environment.
            As for Heroin.. Have come into contact with one very bright and beautiful girl addicted to it. Such a waste, wouldn’t ever try it legal or not. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
            Having it decriminalised creates an environment where its becomes easier to give addicts the help, treatment and support they need.
            Hopefully overtime with such an environment in place and more education, the use of such drugs (and the availability of safer alternatives) will decline overtime.

          • Patrick

            Your post raises another issue PP – the original topic was about legalising (or decriminalising) cannabis, but already we are discussing the availability of other “harder” drugs such hallucinogens & P. One of the big fears of this movement to legalise dope is the “thin end of the wedge” argument. You can make the argument for dope being a recreational drug similar to alcohol but I see little synergy between that & the likes of P which from all accounts turns users into raving mad dog lunatics. The recently departed Antonie Dixon springs to mind.

          • Polish Pride

            “but I see little synergy between that & the likes of P”
            I agree. Personally I don’t think P should be legalized. Decriminalized yes. Decriminalising it makes it easier to identify and deal with the problem as people no longer have the fear of being made criminals if they are found to be using it. Instead they can be given the appropriate treatment to get them off it.
            Its a lot harder to get people to admit they use it and might have a problem when their is the fear of being charged with a crime at the same time. Instead they are more likely to hide the problem the result is that it will in all likelihood get worse, much much worse. That’s not good for the individual or for society.

          • Patrick

            So let’s be clear on the distinction – you are advocating for cannabis to be legalised & “harder” drugs to be decriminalised? I have to admit I had to look up the definition of both. Based on my understanding legalised means “go for your life with cannabis” (as people do currently with alcohol) but if found with P, ecstasy, heroin etc you would be subject to financial penalties and/or addiction treatment.
            Over & above that if you are growing dope you are ok but if you are batching up P for your own use or to supply you would be subjected to criminal law as per today. Am I correct?

          • Polish Pride

            Yes pretty much. I’d like to see a few other things legalized also (LSD, Ecstasy, and mushrooms) but Cannabis would be a good start.

            Many might be surprised to see LSD on there but watch this.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g53pSV25Q8

            If it were I’d like to open a café where people could ask for a particular experience and they could have it provided in a safe comfortable environment with some good music and their friends.

            But yes P, Heroin and whatever else you think should be added to the list decriminalize so people can safely seek the help they need.

      • Cracker1963

        I would love to smoke the stuff- legal or illegal- but I’m a bad asthmatic, and contrary to Peter Tosh’s song about Cannabis, it only aggravates the condition. I tried it at 25yr, big mistake- had to almost overdose on my puffers so I could breathe. Same reason I don’t smoke tobacco (although I do like the smell of expensive cigars- as long as the smoker doesn’t exhale directly at me). Tried cookies- just made me fall asleep so a waste of time.

        • Polish Pride

          Not wanting to push it at all just educate – but yes edibles would be the way to go for you and falling asleep is actually something many people experience the first few times they try Cannabis. I like to think of it as the plants inbuilt failsafe for making sure you are serious about it.
          This is another reason to legalise because people like yourself could get an edible with a measured dose or different strength.
          Be aware though edibles and the high that comes from them last a lot longer than smoking. It can last 6 hours or more so you need to take that into account with what you have planned later on. Then there is the fact that you will release a lot of serotonin and may even feel flat or a little depressed afterwards.This is normal and It is important to be aware of this and not have anymore for at least a week.

        • Pissedoffyouth

          Hey man, a vaporiser could be in interest you can get one which works well for around $200

          • Polish Pride

            Yes I was going to suggest that but wasn’t sure if it would help in crackers situation. If you were going to try vaping (Cracker) , I’d still have the inhalers handy just to be on the safe side.

          • Pissedoffyouth

            I have a magic flight Launch Box, a lot of people bag on it but I find it really good because it is discrete so the missus doesn’t whinge and it is very economical on the stuff

        • http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ Whaleoil

          Get a vaporiser, look on youtube to find something that appeals…lots of different types… on of the most popular is the Pax

  • http://GodHelpMe.Im.Gonna.Gutyas.org.nz/ OrphanIsland

    All criminalisation does is ostracise more people.

    We really need to look at the effects of this on our society, we decided not to call people who drink criminals, have never called tobacco smokers criminals, but will happily tax the life out of them.

    Why ?
    Because some smart arsed bureaucrat thinks they can make more money off us ?

    Or because some smart arsed bureaucrat wants to ostracise people based on some emotionally retarded reactionary responses to their own delusional ostracisation ?

    Take your pick , I’d rather be taxed than imprisoned or ostracised for treating an illness I have no control over or cure for.

    “Power corrupts” is an adage that is alive and well in our world.

  • SDCLFC1 .

    An el pinko here.
    There’s one concern over decriminalising cannabis I have and that is how to manage the areas where people are more susceptible to substance abuse. Particularly Maori and particularly rural. I don’t care about the adults but I do care about the teenagers growing up under these adults care and impression.
    And followers of Cameron should care about the increase in sickness benefits from young people who have blunted their futures because of “blunting”
    Cannabis is ridiculously easy to manufacture into a consumable product in your bedroom alone while alcohol is very difficult.
    I see no logic in criminalising something that is so demanded by the public but an argument for decriminalisation must, in all good conscience, consider the vulnerable.
    I’m interested in people’s thoughts.

    • http://GodHelpMe.Im.Gonna.Gutyas.org.nz/ OrphanIsland

      Those kids and partners are already in this world, the “say nothing” aspects of criminalisation just makes it harder for them to get help / talk about it.

      Alcohol is easy to make, just go down to a home brew shop …

    • Agent BallSack

      I brewed beer at 14, I don’t think its that hard. The products required to make alcohol do not even have an age restriction on them, dope takes months to grow. And most 14 year olds are hardly likely to grow dope in their bedrooms or even on the family property. Why would you, when you can go to a tinny house and buy it from the gangs?

      • SDCLFC1 .

        Did you brew enough beer to last you 3/4/6 months at a time? Households are far more likely to have several plants growing in their backyard as opposed to a still or a ferment in their garage.
        It’s more the parents who will start growing their own on the property and the increase in young people who will become exposed to it because of….

        • Polish Pride

          Sure some grow it but most will just buy it because they don’t want to risk being done for cultivation. They’d rather others take that risk in the current climate. The thing is it is a very safe drug. In our family use of it together has made our family relationships even stronger. We have something in common that we all enjoy.
          No one gets aggro unlike alcohol (well except the mother in law but then we just changed the strain she uses and problem solved) We relax, have a laugh, we listen to some music and have good conversation all in a very safe environment. (No kids involved) The key thing is we understand how it works and use it in moderation.
          Little uncomfortable posting this but this sort of information needs to be out there in this debate.

          • Agent BallSack

            Good post PP, you must invite me to your BBQs heh.

          • Patrick

            PP totally genuine question – what are the risks of lung cancer from smoking dope? Are there any? I know hashish is commonly mixed with tobacco so assume there is the usual risk of any other smoker.

          • Polish Pride

            I will see if I can find some studies I can post links on for this but they have done studies on it and couldn’t (despite trying very hard) find a link between smoking cannabis and lung cancer. The only adverse effect they found from memory was inflammation of the bronchioles but that this settled down and sorted itself out once a person stopped smoking.
            Edit:
            http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm

            http://patients4medicalmarijuana.wordpress.com/marijuana-info/marijuana-and-your-lungs-recent-studies/
            second link talks further about virtually no risk of cannabis smoking causing lung cancer.

    • Polish Pride

      The mistake you make is in thinking these kids can’t and don’t access it now. They do. Their are no controls around it currently. Legalising gives the opportunity to educate especially around Cannabis (Because no one should ever have to run into trouble with cannabis use). And if these kids do run into trouble, well in a legalised environment they can seek the help they need without the fear of getting themselves (or their families if they have taken some of dads stash) into further trouble. Right now if they have money they can get it through gangs. Do you really think they care if a kid wanting to buy some is only 14 or 15 years old? Of course not.
      Legalising it makes what is already one of the safest drugs even safer.

      • blokeintakapuna

        comment of the day!

      • SDCLFC1 .

        The bottom part I’m in complete agreement with you on. As I say my only concern with decriminalising is with the very vulnerable.
        Yes I realise that these more vulnerable elements are already overexposed to it but would decriminalising it make their relationship with cannabis better or worse? I’m not convinced that it would be better
        I don’t think it’s right that my own liberal/libertarian white middle class viewpoint as framed by Cameron (I’m a little sick in my mouth at typing that) is the most represented here, because me and my children are going to be at far less risk from decriminalisation than others.
        We would need to win the argument in the provinces that cannabis use at a young age is debilitating and I doubt how possible that is.
        Thanks for your other reply.
        I smoked too much weed between 15-24. It don’t smoke it now because I can’t be bothered; wouldn’t mind, just can’t be arsed. I don’t judge those who do and certainly don’t think that they should be criminalised for it.
        However my youthful use went beyond experimentation and there is no doubt in my mind that the effects of excessive cannabis use on a developing mind, even an 18-21 year old mind, is debilatating.

        • Agent BallSack

          Like you, I smoked a lot in my younger years. These days I can take it or leave it. I may indulge once every couple of weeks. I have younger children too so I see why you have misgivings surrounding decriminalisation. I would rather smoke dope than the chemical alternatives being passed off in the corner dairy any day.

    • http://www.cadlow.co.nz spanishbride

      I work with the vulnerable and they all have access to cannabis despite their age, despite it being illegal and and despite knowledge of the negative side effects and damage. One student said to me that he/she knows what it does and he/she is not happy about that however it allows him/her to escape the nasty reality of his/her life which involves poverty and a parent dying of Cancer as well as divorced parents. He/she uses alcohol for the same reason and he/she is also a cigarette smoker.

  • blokeintakapuna

    There are arguments for and against, both sides with compelling points to make – however, regardless of what side of the fence one is on, or even if you’re on the fence, the reality is that it is already here and is widespread.
    Prohibition hasn’t worked, still isn’t working and only causes more issues than it solves.
    Ignoring all the issues with it, for and against, by keeping it classified as a “drug” still does nothing towards minimising its availability or reducing usage.
    But the fallacy that if it becomes “legal” more will then use it simply doesn’t stack up.
    Prostitution is now legal, but I don’t know anyone that has swung in favour of doing it now simply because it’s legal…

    • Patrick

      Some of the ropey looking “things” around Hunters Corner in Auckland would require a massive drugs binge prior to utilising their services…….

      • blokeintakapuna

        I wouldn’t know about that – I’m just a bloke on the Shore…

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