Thursday, March 06, 2008

McLeod-ed Judgment

Former pot smoker Rosemary McLeod has had another attack of moral superiority on drugs. Hone Harawira already had a go at this syndrome in his speech during the second reading of the Ban BZP Bill:
"Where do we get off on banning the drugs that kids like, while condoning the drugs that our generations go for? Is that what we call 'showing leadership' is it? Sounds like gutless and petty jealousy to me. Sounds like we don't want young people to have fun, 'cause we're too old for it."
Heh. Go Hone!

After reading Rosemary's sage advice, allow me a little time to parley a response.

Rosey sez, "Faced with the choice of cannabis or champagne, I'd always grab champagne."

I say, "Well, duh. Chicks drink shampoo, guys smoke marijuana."

Rosey sez, "I spent too many years among stoned people, bored stiff, listening to dreary music, to believe it adds any quality to life."

I say, "You hung around boring people. I find hanging round Auckland BBQ parties with people yapping about property and share portfolio valuations dreary. Each to their own."

Rosey sez, "I don't support legalising cannabis. I think it would create more problems than it would solve."

I say, "Bullshit. Cannabis use among Dutch 15 and 16 year olds: ever used 8.5 percent, used in the last month about 3 percent. Cannabis use among Kiwi kids 15 -17 years old: ever used 35 percent, used in the last month 15 percent. Spot the country with coffee shops. Cannabis prohibition is a bigger problem than cannabis. More on that point later."

Rosey sez, "The Greens have always disagreed, despite their quest for purity in other ingested substances, and despite the imminent departure, next election, of advocate Nandor Tanczos, this hasn't changed. I guess that policy attracts young voters, but the Greens have been quiet about cannabis lately."

I say, "Damned straight the Greens have been quiet about it lately. The powers that be are hustling for the Soccer Mum vote, and cannabis reform is seen to be a turn-off. Rod Donald went off after the 2005 election, despairing that the stoner vote went to ALCP last election, costing his party a seat or two. This election, it might well cost the Greens a lot more and, like last time, it will be the Greens' fault."

Rosey again: "Prisons are packed with habitual dope users, and they're not just there because dope is illegal. They're there because of how drugs affect their behaviour – and in short because cannabis isn't the peace-and-love product advocates make it out to be."

I sez, "Prisons are full of drugs because there's fuck all else to do in there to pass the time. And if cannabis isn't the peace and love product it's made out to be, Rosey should go out on town some night and check out the feral chicks on the prowl after a bottle or two of the champers."

And now, the piece de resistance. Rosey sez: "TV news last weekend screened historic footage of a cannabis advocate pushing this position. His words came back to haunt him.

"To my knowledge people who smoke cannabis tend to be less violent than those who drink alcohol," said Dave Moore, former president of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party."

How he must wish he could take those words back."

I have met Dave Moore on several occasions. I took over the running of NORML Wellington from him after he gave up in frustration with Labour wimping out to Peter Dunne's veto on cannabis reform. Rosemary McLeod, you just made it personal.

Dave Moore is still correct. Alcohol has wrought more carnage per capita than cannabis ever will. Murders, car crashes, fights, child beatings and domestics are still heavily influenced by booze not buds. Daniel Moore's greed and stupid Gen Y gangsta ambition, combined with the licence to print money that is the cannabis black market, was the cause of Dave Moore's friend's murder.

"No, cannabis didn't commit this violence, any more than drugs have committed other appalling crimes – but without drugs, would they have been committed at all?"

This morning, I walked past a tribe of tuis getting stoned on Eucalyptus berries. Rosemary, we don't live in a world without drugs. We never have, we never will. Wanna know the street value of Ritalin? Debt was Daniel's problem. Money was the motive.

"Researchers have established a link between dope and psychosis in vulnerable people. This crime was lunacy and Daniel had been around dope with his father and Stanlake for years, the court heard. Could anyone be sure that didn't affect him?"

Researchers have also established a link between peanuts and anaphylactic shock in vulnerable people. You gonna start banning Whittaker's Peanut Slab too? Some people should stay away from cannabis, just as some people should stay away from tequila, absinthe or whiskey. You be the judge, Rosemary.

"This is yet another tragic story that should never have happened.

"It's tragic that Daniel killed another human being and tragic that he was so far gone – as was his victim, heavily into pornography and advertising for group sex – that the idea made sense to him."

Aye, it's tragic and stupid. But what has group sex got to do with anything? You go girl, proving Hone right.

UPDATE: Can't find a link, so here's Hone Harawira's speech in full:

Hone Harawira: Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill
Thursday, 6 March 2008, 10:19 am
Speech: The Maori Party

The Misuse of Drugs (Classification of BZP) Amendment Bill

Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

Wednesday 5 March 2008

A Wall Of Noise

Mr Speaker, it seems to me that all the pump and preaching, moralising and ranting, pontificating and sermonising, around this Misuse of Drugs (Classification of BZP) Amendment Bill is nothing but a wall of noise to hide the lack of information, and the dearth of quality research about the use and effects of BZP.

In fact, when I was able to finally peel back the noise, what I saw reminded me of a court case I was involved in back in 1981, where the prosecution had spent more than two years trying to stitch me up with what amounted to nothing more than insinuation and innuendo; minimum facts and maximum allusion.

The prosecution case was so bloody flimsy that I described their efforts in my summing up to the jury, with the well-worn cliché -

"if you can't dazzle them with brilliance,

then bamboozle them with bullshit."

And that's what this Bill is all about - bamboozling people with bullshit, to cover up the lack of proper research.

Well Mr Speaker, I won my case back in 1983, and so should all the poor bloody kids whose health and wellbeing is being shamelessly trotted out as the basis for banning party pills.


What this Bill does do though, is confirm the view that even when all the best advice says one thing, if government is set on another course of action, then government wins out every time.

Like the Foreshore and Seabed Bill for example: 2,171 submissions, 186 presentations, 10 consultation hui, and some 45,000 people marching on parliament - an unprecedented rejection of this government's theft, and the extinguishment of Maori rights, and what does the Government go? They just plough ahead anyway.

And this Bill is similar - 80% opposed it, and government goes ahead with it anyway - go figure.

And if that's not bad enough, even the supposed Jewel in the Crown of Youth Development, the much vaunted and widely promoted Youth Parliament 2007 - even their opinions have been completely ignored.

The Youth Parliament received submissions on the status of BZP, fromthe Ministry of Health, the New Zealand Social Tonics Association, the New Zealand Drug Foundation, Care NZ and the University of Otago, and their report, tabledin this House on 11 July 2007, said:

"The Health Committee has come to the conclusion that bzp should become legal with strong regulations surrounding party pills. We have decided on this, because due to little research having been done, there is insufficient evidence proving the long-term effects of this drug.

The Health Committee recommends to the Government that party pills should be legally available with heavy restrictions on advertising, on the age that people can purchase and use these party pills, and on who can sell the party pills and where".

And yet - despite the majority of submissions opposing the Bill, and despite the strong recommendations of the Youth Parliament, this Bill is still before the House for approval.

So what do we do about it?

Well, back in the 80's and the 90's Nancy Reagan proposed aJUST SAY NO campaign against drug use, which later shifted over to just say no to premarital sex and a list of other vices that America was trying to steer their young people away from.

But that campaign was a failure because it tried to oversimplify the scope and the nature of the problem, and didn't deal with the realities of drug abuse.

What we need to do is start looking at more comprehensive and meaningful approaches than merely focusing on users.

Mr Speaker, let me be quite clear ....

The Maori Party is opposed to harmful drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, and we are equally committed to stopping substance abuse.

But we also want the best information available to make our decisions, and what we have found out is that over the last five years, our society has consumed some twenty million party pills - with no recorded deaths.

That's not to downplay any of the harmful effects of BZP - the nausea, headaches, hot/cold flushes, the poor appetite, the tremors and the shakes -mind you, those are the same symptoms that Parekura Horomia tells me him and his mates in the Labour Party Maori Caucus have been suffering since the last Marae-Digipoll came out.

Still, it is a matter of concern that party pills have become such an entrenched part of youth culture, particularly given the young age of the Maori population, and their high risk of substance abuse.


But prohibiting the manufacture, sale, supply and use of party pills won't actually solve the problem at all, 'cause party pills, like alcohol, dak, and assorted other drugs, are drugs that people WANT to keep taking, and when drugs are made illegal, what actually happens is people keep taking them, but the street price jumps through the roof, and drug use becomes unregulated, unrestricted, uncontrolled, and unmanageable, as the black market takes over.

And what about cigarettes .... well, unlike all those other drugs, 80% of smokers actually want to stop, so banning the manufacture, supply and sale of tobacco products will simply not have the same effect.


But the most effective way to deal with party pills is not prohibition, but a properly enforced, strongly regulated, harm-minimisation approach, and the evidence shows that when drugs are effectively regulated, drug use and drug harm drops.

Tighter regulations, health warning labels, controlled access, and quality and quantity controls, are proven to be way more successful than prohibition.

Youthline told the Select Committee that banning wouldn't change anything, and other submitters also confirmed what we already know - that prohibition has no effect on the demand for drugs at all.


And in conclusion Mr Speaker, let me again say how hypocritical it is that this House can put all this energy into getting tough on BZP, while alcohol and tobacco abuse continues to maim and kill Kiwis in the thousands.

Remember what I said before? That we'd found out that over the last five years, more than 20 million party pills have been popped - with no recorded deaths.

Can we say that about alcohol and tobacco though?

Hell no!!!

Alcohol and tobacco use and abuse has been researched to death, and we know, this House knows, the people know, hell the whole bloody world knows, that alcohol and tobacco are directly responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of New Zealanders every year, and yep, I'm going to say it again, alcohol and tobacco are directly responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of New Zealanders every year, and what do we do?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

Where do we get off on banning the drugs that kids like, while condoning the drugs that our generations go for?

Is that what we call 'showing leadership' is it? Sounds like gutless and petty jealousy to me. Sounds like we don't want young people to have fun, 'cause we're too old for it.

No issue with trying to come up with a decent answer on party pills, but let's not kid ourselves that we're banning party pills for the good of our youth, but we'll turn a blind eye to the alcohol and cigarettes that are killing them.

Mr Speaker, they tell me I can't use the word hypocrite to describe members in this House so I won't.

But let me tell you that it would take a great dose of duplicitous, deceitful, and dishonest double-dealing for this Bill to go any further in this House.

The Maori Party says - let's kill this bill and get on with reality.