Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Quotes from a drug war

Stuff points out one example of a gross injustice in today's drug war:
Justice Ministry figures show a significant amount of court time is taken up by minor drug cases, with nearly as many people imprisoned for possessing a small quantity of cannabis as for dealing...

In the past six years, possession of small amounts of cannabis or smoking utensils, such as a pipe, made up about half of all drug charges laid by police.
Justice Minister Judith Collins is quoted as saying that all drug matters, no matter how trivial, must be processed by the criminal justice system. By saying this, Collins merely follows a long line of ignorant but powerful voices who have rallied against the obvious love affair NZers have with drugs.

Part of my How Things Change study involved re-reading historian Redmer Yska's excellent story of Aotearoa Marijuana, New Zealand Green. I'm saving the stats for another fight, but here's a selection of choice quotes from NZ's drug war:
  • "It is impossible to insert any appreciable quantity of drug into chocolates."
 - Police Commissioner W.B. McIlveney in 1926, responding to a story from the Salvation Army's Brigadier Burton. Burton had heard a tale of a woman found in an Auckland public toilet, insensible after eating chocolates at a garden dance.
  • "Marijuana is the thin edge of the wedge into the vice underworld, a trade that festers deep in the social flesh but leaves little mark on the surface."
- Assistant Police Commissioner R.J. Walton in 1965, fresh from a five-week guided tour of American drug locations.
  • '[Walton] was brainwashed in America and came home determined to enforce excessive concern about cannabis on the rest of us."
 - Dr Erich Geiringer, arguing that the cannabis menace had appeared at a convenient time when police needed an issue to prop up their dwindling status.
  • "Don't be afraid of or awed by the police. They are public utilities like the drains or the telephone."
 - Cock magazine in 1971.
  • "The only drug permissible in the healthy home should be one small bottle of the aspirin for use in an emergency."
 - Lady Porritt, Governor-General's wife, to the Country Women's Institute, 1968.
  •  "Recently a young girl at a sex instruction lecture by a private psychiatrist asked the speaker whether sex with the aid of LSD was a superior experience to ordinary sexual relations without it! In the face of this sort of thinking, a firm and continued deglamourising campaign against drug abuse is necessary to save many young people from a way of life which adds nothing to the community and costs it a lot."
 - Oakley Hospital superintendent and Blake-Palmer Commission member Dr P.P.E. Savage.
  • "Existing legislation made it possible to keep cannabis from becoming generally available."
 - Professor Fred Fastier in 1968, Dunedin pharmacologist and Blake-Palmer Commission member.
They have taken away Maori Johnny,
The horsebreaker from Taumarunui.
A keen pot smoker.
He plucked for us the leaves
Of the tree of life.
  - James K. Baxter, The Ballad of the Junkies and the Fuzz.
  • "It is a dangerous article to print as it is, without laying to rest some of its misconceptions."
 - Dr Blake-Palmer, commenting on a draft article for Moment, a Parnell Christian magazine. The story in question featured Geoff, a high functioning drug user. It is unclear whether the article was published. Media, police and health officials were warned to keep out of the public eye on drug matters while the commission convened.
  • "There was so much nonsense with officials making statements that were clearly untrue. The effect was to discredit those who tried to produce real information. New Zealand is a model of how to mismanage health information over several decades."
 - Christchurch psychologist Dr John Dobson, a vocal critic of the Blake-Palmer Commission, 1969.
  • "A sufficient dose of THC in marijuana is capable of producing all the effects of the more concentrated hashish and even LSD which is conceded one of the most powerful drugs known to man."
 - Hutt MP Trevor Young, 1970.
  • "Much of the senseless crime attributed to teenagers - the smashing of windows, the destruction of park benches, the breaking up of public property, even to some of the gang wars - is caused by the smoking of marijuana."
 - Salvation Army booklet.

  • "These people, often sick, will not volunteer for medical treatment and it is necessary for the police to seek them out for their own good."
 - Police Commissioner W.H.A Sharp, twenty years before the Bill of Rights 1990 made this illegal.