Thursday, January 20, 2011

Selling NZ by the Pound

“Write drunk. Edit sober.” - Hemingway

Pardon, dear readers, for the sporadic blogging over the last few weeks. There are many reasons why this has been so, but the main one is that I haven't been drinking. Sure, there's been the occasional beer here and there, catching up with old mates, but none of the long, contemplative solo drinking that fuels the really original content (moderated of course with chain-smoking rollies and puffing on the old pipe).

I haven't been drinking because I have moved out of the Hobbit Hole in Wellington and into the Daktory in Auckland. The Daktory is New Zealand's first cannabis clubrooms. Like Te Whiti and Tohu's little experiment in Parihaka before it was crushed by the armed constabulary back in the nineteenth century, the Daktory forbids alcohol. So here I am, perched at a mate's place's balcony overlooking Great North Road with all the basic blogging ingredients; a view, a bottle of red wine, a full stash box, and a pack of duty free tobacco. Let's go.

As long time readers will know, I have been hassling for some small time to reform NZ's stupid, archaic, disproportionate, hypocritical drug laws. I have reached the conclusion that hell will freeze over before our poll-driven, majoritarian politicians lift a finger to change these bad laws persecuting a vulnerable minority.

It is hard to pinpoint the exact straw that broke the camels' back; Operations Lime, Bitters, Cobra, the never-ending arrests of pot users and home growers. Or perhaps it was NZ Customs seizing all vaporisers imported into NZ not long after I gave evidence to the Health select committee demonstrating one:

Vaporisers are one of the most effective harm minimisation tools for consuming cannabis. Because THC and other cannabinoids evaporate at a lower temperature to plant material, a vaporiser allows users to grab the medicine without the tar and burnt plant material entering their lungs. Absorbtion within the lungs is quicker than mouth sprays such as Sativex, and therefore dosage can be moderated much more accurately.

Vaporisers are to cannabis users what the Needle Exchange Program is to heroin users. Even rabid former drug czar Chairman Jim Anderton supported legislation in favour of the Needle Exchange. And Customs won't let these vaporisers in at all. Customs' reasons for doing so are wrong-headed and contradictory, but it is too expensive appealing to the courts when faced with the bureaucratic legal monolith of NZ Customs that makes dealing with ACC look like a box of chocolates.

It's all part of the rolling maul to allegedly eliminate drug use by removing utensils. There's a bill floating through parliament right now that will eliminate them even more by banning the sale of pipes, bongs, and parts thereof. Let them smoke joints and buckies, eh. That's some screwy version of harm minimisation right there.

Speak of the devil. Here's a TV3 puff piece on pipes at the dairy, complete with an interview with the empty shell known as Jim Anderton. Pipes help remove tar and other toxins from smoke on the way to the lungs. Pipes aren't as effective as vapes, but they're a crapload safer for users than an unfiltered joint.

That journo wouldn't know harm minimisation if it jabbed them with a dirty needle or a Hepatitis B joint. Fortunately for TV3, they manage to balance this rubbish out with this raw footage interview with the Police's Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Cahill, who seems both reasonable and clued up. I'd buy that cop a beer to bend his ear.

While vanilla politicians such as John Key, Judith Collins and Simon Power continue to arrest my people, invade their homes, steal their assets, and generally ruin thousands of lives every year whilst blowing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on cops, choppers, courts, the clink and whatever other social costs of useless prohibition, I have had enough. It is time for some civil disobedience as well.

"John Key" holding a pound of cannabis

So here I am living at the Daktory in New Lynn, New Zealand's first cannabis club. The Daktory provides a friendly supervised environment for its members whilst funding cannabis law reform. Hey, it's not as if Lion Nathan or Vodafone will sponsor the cause. In the two years the Daktory has been operating, there has been no fights. It has maintained a self-regulating etiquette based on the internationally accepted AHOJ-G criteria (pdf):
The sale of cannabis is illegal, yet coffee shops are tolerated in their sale of cannabis, if they adhere to certain criteria: no advertising, no sale of hard drugs, not selling to persons under the age of 18, not causing public nuisance and not selling more than 5 grams per transaction.
I have never found a place in my life as supportive as the Daktory. It's the Whanau Ora of NZ cannabis culture. I am with my people. Time will tell if the cops bring the hammer down on us here at the Daktory, like they are already trying to do with Switched On Gardener and Operation Lime. Dakta Green is facing trial later this year for charges trumped up during a fortnight of police harassment back in 2009. I'm assisting in his defence.

Alas, I must go. I am not only blogging, but also babysitting. Daughter of Madame J is 10 years old. I have just told her that when I was her age, the police used to arrest gay people, raid gay bars and lock its patrons up in prison. Her jaw just dropped. It's amazing how intolerant this country once was, and still is. We hope for a change towards a more tolerant society, but in the meantime I'm living like it's legal. Wish me luck.