Category Archives: Cannabis

Guardian Angel. Happy Birthday Mercedes Corby.

happy birthday Mercedes

You exemplify everything which is good about Family, and a Libertarian commitment to justice.
Fighting for your beloved sister caught in the Jaws of an Evil system, you risked everything for her sake.
Happy Birthday Mercedes…. from Eternal Vigilance.
We salute you!

Tim Wikiriwhi.
Christian Libertarian.

s and mmm

From the Facebook page People for Schapelle Corby

Tuesday (7th October) is Mercedes Corby’s birthday. Please join us in wishing her a truly wonderful and stress-free day.

When Schapelle was wrongly arrested in 2004, a nightmare began for Mercedes too. She stayed in Bali to be with her sister, and brought up her young family there. She helped to sustain Schapelle through the most harrowing and horrendous experiences.

She took up the cause with everything she had. Knowing her sister was completely innocent, she did everything in her power to free her from the chains of corruption.

She confronted politicians, she faced down the AFP, and she fought through the courts in Australia, where even her sister’s book royalties had been stolen by the government. She followed every lead, and sought help everywhere possible.

She explored every avenue in Indonesia, applying for clemency for Schapelle, and eventually, getting the parole through. She campaigned endlessly, and she told the truth to anyone who would listen.

In doing so, she became a threat to many interests and many corrupt individuals. So she was abused, maligned, and vilified by the most repugnant media on the planet. She became a target for sewer journalists, and malicious cowardly predators. She was even brutally beaten on the street.

One day, her own story will be told, and like Schapelle’s, it will shake the world.

Today, she remains by her sister’s side. And again, like Schapelle, her human rights continue to be openly breached, as she is illegally gagged. Her own government support this, and the media applaud it. But still she remains strong.

She is one in a million

Happy birthday Mercedes!

Mercedes-Corby-6399819

Cannibalising the cannabis vote (Part 2)

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party‘s electorate candidates did well in last Saturday’s general election. (See Part 1.) But the ALCP’s share of the party vote was down.

The 2014 GENERAL ELECTION – PRELIMINARY RESULT gives us 0.41% of the party vote. That’s roughly 20% down on 2011’s final result of 0.52%, and pretty much back to where we were in 2008. (But we’re projected to be 0.45% after special votes are counted.)

With cannabis law reform happening in many jurisdictions around the world (e.g., Jamaica, Uruguary, Colorado, Washington) and the “synthetic cannabis” industry derailing itself this year here in New Zealand, cannabis law reform was supposed to have been much more of an election issue. But it wasn’t. So what happened?

Before we get to that, let’s take a look at our party vote performance in previous MMP elections. The ALCP first contested the general election in 1996, which was New Zealands first under the Mixed-Member Proportional system. (See NEW ZEALAND ELECTION RESULTS.)

Year 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 2011 2014
Percent 1.66 1.10 0.64 0.25 0.41 0.52 0.41

The 1996 general election saw the ALCP’s best party vote result. Subsequently, its vote share steadily declined to an all-time low of 0.25% three elections later in 2005. It’s risen since then, to 0.52% of the party vote in 2011. Last Saturday’s result is a slight dip, but as much as 20% down on 2011’s result nonetheless. How to explain all this?

I think a big part of the explanation is obvious. After 1996 and again after 1999, cannabis law reform voters came to the realisation that a vote for the ALCP was a “wasted” vote. Wasted in the sense that it was extremely unlikely that the ALCP would ever reach the 5% threshold and have MPs enter Parliament. Nonetheless, a vote for the ALCP is worthwhile as a protest vote, worthwhile because protesting is worthwhile and it’s absolutely clear what AlCP voters are protesting about: cannabis prohibition.

But cannabis law reformers want more than just to protest, they also want to effect change. And I think another part of the explanation of the decline in the ALCP’s party vote share in 2002 and 2005 is that the cannabis vote was cannibalised by the Green Party. In 1996 Nandor Tanczos and Metiria Turei were candidates on the ALCP’s list. In 1999 Nandor Tanczos was on the Green Party’s list and entered Parliament. By 2002 it was obvious to cannabis law reform voters that in the dreadlocked skateboarding Rastafarian MP the CLR cause had a champion in Parliament, and in 2002 Nandor Tanczos was joined by Metiria Turei (after her 1999 stint with the McGillicuddy Serious Party). (Nandor Tanczos has since left the toxic hellhole that is New Zealand’s Parliament. Metiria Turei remains and is now the Green Party’s co-leader with Russel Norman.)

I confess that I party voted Green once (I’m pretty sure it was in 2002) and for exactly the reason just outlined. I’m sorry. 🙁

Giving my CLR vote to the Greens turned out to be a mistake. (Even though in my book Nandor Tanczos was, and still is, cool.) It was a mistake for two reasons. Because, beyond legalising a couple of strains of industrial hemp, the Greens have done nothing for cannabis law reform despite having had Parliamentary representation for 18 years now. And my vote for the watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) no doubt helped further their far-left agenda. Fortunately, in 2003 I saw the light of liberty, identified as a libertarian, and joined the Libertarianz Party. 🙂

Fast forward to 2014 and the cannabis vote was again cannibalised. This time by the Internet Party who basically copied the ALCP’s cannabis policy (stopping only just short of full, Colorado-style legalisation) and announced it barely two weeks out from the election. With much song and dance, since Internet Party leader Laila Harre’s partner in crime, the Mana Movement’s leader Hone Harawira, balked and gave the Internet Party’s policy pronouncement a great deal of extra publicity. (See, e.g., Internet Mana leaders fall out over weed and Mana leader angry at cannabis plan.)

It’s hard to tell how many party votes went to the Internet Mana Party that would otherwise have gone to the ALCP, given that the IMPs gained only 1.26% of the party vote (although projected to rise to 1.37% after special votes are counted). I’d like to think it was at least as many party votes as we lost compared to our 2011 election result.

This time I wasn’t anywhere near stupid or unprincipled enough to give my party vote to the IMPs. But those who were and did also made an electoral mistake. We witnessed InternetMana self-destructing over cannabis policy. Hone Harawira lost his (inaptly named) Te Tai Tokerau seat to Labour’s Kelvin Davis, and so all those CLR voters who voted IMPs flushed their party votes straight down the toilet. They should have protested instead! Then at least we’d know that they voted for cannabis law reform.

Regardless, perhaps John Key will hear the CLR message and legalise cannabis in the Fifth National Government’s third Parliamentary term.

What’s The Likelihood of Cannabis Law Reform in John Key’s Third Term?

Cannibalising the cannabis vote (Part 1)

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party took a big hit in Saturday’s general election. I don’t mind saying that I’m somewhat disappointed. (It’s my party – I’m the Vice President – and I’ll cry if I want to.)

The 2014 GENERAL ELECTION – PRELIMINARY RESULT gives us 0.41% of the party vote. That’s roughly 20% down on 2011’s final result of 0.52%, and pretty much back to where we were in 2008.

This time around was supposed to have been our election. With many jurisdictions around the world decriminalising (e.g., Jamaica) and some countries (Uruguay) and US states (Colorado, Washington) outright legalising, globally the tide has turned on cannabis prohibition. Consciousnesses were supposed to have been raised and cannabis law reform was supposed to have been much more of an election issue. But it wasn’t.

I was optimistic that we’d double our vote and achieve 1%. I never doubted that we’d stay safely above 0.5%. But we didn’t. So what went wrong?

Before we get to that, let’s take some big bong hits. All our candidates did well in their electorates, and their individual successes are worth celebrating.

Preliminary vote counts are highlighted in the table below, with some comparable figures from the NEW ZEALAND ELECTION RESULTS from the previous two general elections in 2011 and 2008. (Figures in brackets may not be the same candidate, the same electorate or the same party. Two out of the three.)

Candidate 2014 2011 2008 Electorate
KINGI, Emma-Jane Mihaere 838 703 Te Tai Tonga
DOMBROSKI, Jamie 608 439 New Plymouth
GRAY, Abe 466 (398) (483) Dunedin North
CRAWFORD, Julian 395 (398) (483) Dunedin South
WILKINSON, Robert 373 (254) (487) Christchurch Central
GOODE, Richard 332 332 (64) Mana
MANNING, Romana Marnz 307 352 Tukituki
McDERMOTT, Adrian 267 (319) Te Atatu
GREGORY, Alistair 258 (404) (407) Wellington Central
LYE, Jeff 221 (331) Kelston
(559) (788) Te Tai Tokerau
WILKINSON, Steven (203) 450 623 West Coast-Tasman
MACDONALD, Fred (107) 253 Otaki

Clear star of the show is Emma-Jane Kingi harvesting 838 votes in the southernmost Maori electorate of Te Tai Tonga. EJ, you rock! Also a very strong showing from Jamie Dombroski harvesting 608 votes in the New Plymouth electorate. Solid numbers too from the ALCP’s Leader Julian Crawford and Deputy Leader Abe Gray in the Dunedin South and Dunedin North electorates respectively. (The numbers in brackets are Julian’s results from 2011 and 2008 when he ran in the Dunedin North electorate.) And well done to budding newcomer Robert Wilkinson representing the party in the Christchurch Central electorate.

I’m happy enough with my own preliminary result of 332 votes in the Mana electorate. I expect a few more votes when the special votes are counted and the Electoral Commission announces the final results early next month. But my tally right now is exactly the same as last time. It’s significant that I got over 5 times as many votes standing under the ALCP banner this time and in 2011 as I did in 2008 when I was a Libertarianz Party candidate. Whose mast you nail your own colours to matters a great deal. I’ve included a couple of candidates in the table above who stood as ALCP candidates in previous elections, but who went their own ways this time. Both Steven Wilkinson and Fred Macdonald stood as Independents, and both more than halved their yields.

Satisfying results from our other candidates too, albeit slightly down on previous figures at this stage. I’d anticipated a few more votes for rising star Alistair Gregory who ran a stellar campaign in Wellington Central. In fact, the not quite comparable numbers in brackets are votes won in previous elections by Michael Appleby, the ALCP’s locally well-known leader and brand-recognised figurehead since the party’s inception in 1996 until he stood aside late last year. Suffice it to say, Ali had big shoes to fill.

But I think there’s another reason that Ali’s (and Jeff’s and Adrian’s) vote counts were down a little on previously (and also why Julian’s and Abe’s vote counts were steady despite Dunsterdam being this election’s ALCP campaign headquarters). They all had competition in their electorates from Internet Party candidates. Which brings me to what I think accounts for the significant drop in the ALCP’s party vote.

The Internet-Mana Party cannibalised the cannabis law reform vote. Read more in Part 2.

Ministry of Cannabis

Regulatory Regime for Cannabis Announced

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party announced its regulatory policy today, calling for a new Ministry of Cannabis.

The new regulatory authority would be established at a cost of $10 million according to ALCP’s shadow budget.

ALCP regulatory spokesman Dr Richard Goode said the Cannabis Ministry would issue licences for the commercial cannabis trade and help with training programmes for those interested in the industry.

“Licensing the commercial production and sale of cannabis will allow conditions to be put in place such as an R18 age-limit and a tax regime,” he said.

“Home-grown cannabis and social dealing among friends will not require a licence and will be tax-free. The medical marijuana industry will be offered tax-breaks so they only pay 50% of regular taxes. The hemp industry will pay regular taxes, while the commercial-recreational industry will pay excise duty on top of regular taxes.”

The definition of adult will be set at 18-years-old or above, while the limits for personal use will be set as high as possible in negotiation with the Government. Excise duty will be no higher than 15%, similar to the Colorado model.

This allows easy access to personal or medical cannabis while ensuring that commercial players contribute the most to public revenue.

Dr Goode said the new authority would also offer training programmes to help get the industry off the ground.

“Doctors will be offered training about the medical benefits of cannabis and how to prescribe it for patients,” he said.

“There will also be courses for those who want to get more involved in the hemp industry.”

These regulations will encourage cannabis commerce while ensuring an even playing field and and a market driven approach to pricing. All New Zealanders will be better off once legal cannabis sales are contributing to public revenue.

stoner+dog_5b38c5_3077427

The new Ministry of Cannabis will have the following areas of responsibility:

Stop the Arrests:

  • Instruct Police to use their discretion and stop arresting cannabis users.
  • Instruct courts to drop all pending cannabis charges.
  • Ensure cannabis is removed from the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Overturn Convictions:

  • Ensure all cannabis convictions are quashed and a Royal pardon issued.
  • Instruct Corrections to release all prisoners who are serving cannabis only sentences.
  • Instruct Corrections to wipe all outstanding fines and probation sentences for cannabis offences.
  • Establish a judicial panel to issue compensation for historical cannabis convictions.

Personal Use:

  • Allow adults to possess and use cannabis for personal use.
  • Allow adults to grow cannabis at home for personal use.
  • Allow adults to trade cannabis with each other for personal use.
  • Instruct IRD not to tax personal cannabis use.

Medical Cannabis:

  • Allow medical patients to use cannabis and access it from a doctor or pharmacy.
  • Allow caregivers to grow cannabis for individual patients.
  • Issue licences to grow medical cannabis on a commercial scale.
  • Issue licences to process or wholesale medical cannabis on a commercial scale.
  • Issue licences to dispensaries and pharmacies to retail medical cannabis.
  • Train doctors in how to prescribe medical cannabis.
  • Instruct IRD to give a 50% tax-break to the medical cannabis industry.

Industrial Hemp:

  • Allow anyone to register to grow industrial hemp without a licence.
  • Run training programmes in growing industrial hemp.
  • Run training programmes for processing and manufacturing industrial hemp products.
  • Allow any business to retail industrial hemp products.
  • Instruct IRD to tax industrial hemp at the usual tax rate.

Commercial-Recreational Cannabis:

  • Issue licences to grow cannabis on a commercial scale.
  • Issue licences to process or wholesale cannabis for commercial purposes.
  • Issue licences to operate a retail cannabis outlet.
  • Instruct IRD to tax commercial cannabis sales at the usual rate with an added excise duty.
  • Allow adults to buy personal amounts of cannabis from retail outlets.

International Trade:

  • Issue licences to import cannabis products into New Zealand.
  • Issue licences to export cannabis products from New Zealand.

07.30.13news-capitol-city-care-medical-marijuana-fixed-edit

Eternal Vigilance electorate candidate endorsement #2. Alistair Gregory for Wellington Central.

20_alistair_gregory

Alistair Gregory is a rising star in the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. He’s our candidate for the high-profile Wellington Central electorate and #4 on the party list. He’s also the ALCP’s Wellington Regional Manager and President of the ALCP’s Wellington branch. (I’m the Vice President. Ali’s the main man!)

Vote Alistair Gregory in Wellington Central

Legalise Cannabis in WELLINGTON CENTRAL!

Hello, I’m Alistair Gregory, your ALCP candidate for the best little capital in the world.

I’m a 23 year old chef, born and bred Wellingtonian, and convinced that we have to stop making criminals of people having a joint.

Using natural cannabis for medical, recreational, industrial and spiritual purposes should be a standard human right.

Cannabis, also named marijuana, has been used for centuries around the world. It is not and never has been a ‘demon weed’.

Jamaica, Holland, Uruguay, Portugal, USA and many other countries are introducing relaxed cannabis controls. New Zealanders are repeatedly calling for the same choice.

Sensible reform is legalisation, with regulated supply and use, for adults. ALCP is the only party that will stop making our people criminals.

Alcohol prohibition was a failure. Cannabis prohibition is a failure.

Enrol to vote. Vote for civil rights. Vote ALCP.

I’ll also mention that Ali is a medicinal user, and a friend. He needs cannabis, I don’t. As a recreational cannabis user, I’m prepared to live like it’s legal and live through the occasional supply drought. But I’m not prepared to do nothing while my friends suffer because the law denies them the best medicine. That’s why I’m out supporting Ali on the campaign trail.

Voters in the Wellington Central electorate, I urge you to give your electorate vote to Alistair Gregory and your party vote to the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party!

The STAR Trust is perishing from an orgy of weasel words

My outlook for Thursday was good but Thursday turned sour when I read the following report and watched a 3 News interview with Grant Hall of the legal highs industry lobby group the STAR Trust.

Did legal highs reduce crime?

Today is a global day of action for groups around the world campaigning for drug law reform.

Really? It’s the first I heard of “a global day of action for groups around the world campaigning for drug law reform.” I belong to (at least) a couple of groups in New Zealand campaigning for DLR. I’m the Vice President of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis and a member (and former board member) of drug law reform umbrella group NORML. I’ve been a drug law reform activist for more than a decade. While it’s entirely possible that I was told about it but was paying no attention, I don’t recall ever hearing of a global day of DLR action on a Thursday. At the end of June. I spoke to a couple of other DLR activists and they hadn’t heard of it either.

(The global day of action for groups around the world campaigning for drug law reform is, in fact, the first Saturday in May. In New Zealand, we celebrate J Day. In Nimbin, Australia they celebrate the Nimbin Mardi Grass. Elsewhere, the Global Marijuana March is held in cities around the world.)

In New Zealand, advocacy group the Star Trust has released research it says shows that the Psychoactive Substances Act was working, before synthetic high products were pulled from the shelves.

I’m not sure what Grant Hall means by “working”. The Psychoactive Substances Act was supposed to ban all new psychoactive substances not already banned by the Misuse of Drugs Act, with the exception of products containing psychoactive substances that had been shown to pose only a low risk of harm after being submitted to a battery of scientific tests, which products would then be approved for regulated, legal sale. That was its stated intent. While all new psychoactive substances have now been banned, none has yet passed the scientific tests. The Ministry of Health, in charge of implementing the Act, has yet even to tell us what the scientific tests that NPS must pass actually are. I don’t call that “working”. I call that prohibition. (As for the fiasco that was the so-called “interim” period, during which untested, unsafe NPS were temporarily approved for sale, don’t get me started.)

The trust’s Grant Hall says they would like a “compassionate” approach to dealing with drug harm, instead of the current “punitive” regime.

What does a “compassionate” approach to legal highs retailers look like?

“All of the data during the interim period of the Psychoactive Substances Act… there were two things that came out of it that are really interesting,” he said on Firstline this morning.

“There was a reduction in crime – we saw a 22.7 percent reduction in cannabis-related crime… quite a significant number.”

There is no such thing as cannabis-related crime. Cannabis does not cause crime. So we saw a 22.7% reduction in what? A 22.7% reduction in cannabis use? A 22.7% reduction in arrests for cannabis “offences”? I say that the reason there’s been a 22.7% reduction in “cannabis-related crime” (whatever that is) is because it’s an election year.

Watching the actual interview, Grant Hall indicates that the reduction is in cannabis use. But people smoking less cannabis isn’t a good thing, because what are they smoking instead? Less safe, less fun synthetic cannabinoid products manufactured by the industry for whom Grant Hall is spokesman.

He says only 14 people contacted the Ministry of Health about addiction problems with synthetic highs, out of 11,000 people using them a day.

“We would say that’s a pretty good outcome.”

I’d say that’s a pretty good outcome, too. If only 14 people experienced addiction problems. But it wasn’t only 14 people, it was hundreds of people who became seriously addicted to legal synthetic highs. The 14 people who contacted the Ministry of Health were just the tip of a very large iceberg that advocates of the PSA’s interim period simply don’t want to know about.

Lost

I’ve been blogging on the PSA for a couple of years now. Synthetic cannabis addicts would sooner comment on my blog posts than contact the Ministry of Health. I mean, why on earth would someone with an addiction problem even contemplate for a moment calling the Ministry of Health anyway?

Synthetic cannabis addicts are regularly in the headlines. Here‘s a chap who appeared in the MSM the day before Grant Hall’s interview. Did he phone the Ministry of Health in between committing aggravated robberies, I wonder?

A “polite and well-mannered” South Auckland teen with an unblemished record committed two aggravated robberies in four days, driven by his synthetic cannabis addiction.

What the legal highs industry should have done is proactively investigate reports of addiction to their products. They should have front-footed it. But they don’t want to know.

Someone else who doesn’t want to know is Peter Dunne. He doesn’t want to know about the miraculous and thoroughly well-documented healing properties of natural cannabis. Anecdotal reports are not hard science but they do stack up. Here‘s one that’s hard to dismiss.

Christine said the cannabis oil had an immediate and dramatic impact. Ellen’s seizures reduced from hundreds each day down to only a handful, allowing her to return to school for the first time in five years.

“She’s gone from 120 hospital admissions in 2012 to just eight last year. It’s quite amazing. She is still on some pharmaceuticals. We’ve found that combination with the cannabis oil has been hugely beneficial.”

But Peter Dunne dismisses it.

“I have yet to see any evidence that cannabis in any form has contributed in any way to help children, or indeed anyone, recover from serious diseases,” he said.

I know that Grant Hall is a veteran campaigner for medical cannabis. Good on him. I know that Grant Hall wouldn’t dismiss any of the numerous reports of the benefits of medical cannabis as anecdotal. And yet he chooses to ignore the numerous reports of the addictive nature of synthetic cannabis.

In fact, the legal highs industry is well aware of the potentially addictive nature of some of their products. That’s why Matt Bowden was up front. His Stargate products came with appropriate warnings, e.g.

Frequent or daily use is not recommended, users should be aware that development of dependence on this type of product has rarely been reported, and appropriate limitations on use may be required in some individuals.

A report I read about a year ago, of a Nelson man arrested for selling natural cannabis to get the money to feed his synthetic cannabis addiction, should have sounded the alarm with the legal highs industry. That’s when the plot lost them.

Now Hall says people are turning back to hard drugs like P, and that synthetic highs were only banned because of the upcoming election.

Bullshit. We put people who are addicted to opiates on the methadone progamme, because methadone itself is an opiate and it substitutes for other opiates. Methamphetamine (“P”) is a stimulant. Synthetic cannabinoids are not stimulants. If I wanted to find the energy to stay up partying all night or simply do the housework … P would be great … but the last thing I’d do is smoke some synthetic cannabis. It’s not a stimulant and doesn’t substitute for other stimulants. I’d get nothing done at all and then fall asleep.

Speed freaks were taking stimulants before, during and after synthetic cannabis.

[Hall] There was a reduction in crime. So we saw a 22.7% reduction in cannabis-related crime during the interim period, now that’s quite a significant number.

[3 News] Was that inevitable? Because they’re just going to synthetic highs.

[Hall] Yes, but isn’t that a good thing? That’s a good result, isn’t it? So we’ve transitioned those people away from the black market into the white market where they are controlled …

Transitioning people away from safe, natural black market cannabis to unsafe, synthetic white market cannabis is harm reduction? Not in my book.

Watch the video for the full interview with Grant Hall.

Check out what Grant Hall has to say about “congestion issues” and “restricted retail environments”. Weasel words! They had congestion issues and a restricted retail environment in Colorado in early January, and nothing bad happened. (Except that the cannabis ran out, obviously.)

As for the claim that “synthetic highs were only banned because of the upcoming election.” Actually, no. Synthetic highs were banned because a group of mothers whose teenage children had become addicted to synthetic cannabinoids or otherwise schizzed out kicked up one hell of a fuss. And then got on Campbell Live.

The reality is that journalists have got more power and influence around this issue than the scientists.

Grant Hall got that much right. It will be John Campbell who legalises cannabis in the end.

art-drugs2-620x349

The demonisation of cannabis (and other drugs) started in earnest with prohibitionist propaganda campaigns like Reefer Madness in the ’30s. I’d say we reached peak demonisation in the ’70s. 1970 was when Keith Stroup, funded by a $5,000 grant from the Playboy Foundation, founded the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in the U.S. That’s when drug law reformers started in earnest to undo the decades of prohibitionist propaganda damage. It’s taken 40 years of hard slog to counter all the prohibitionist lies and misrepresentations about cannabis.

I’m work shy. So it irks me when anyone, be they prohibitionists or non-prohibitionists, tells lies about and misrepresents the harms (whether by exaggerating or downplaying) of any drug. How are we ever going to have sane, evidence-based drug policy when those making and influencing the policies refuse to face up to the facts? I’m work shy but I’d still much rather spend my time getting the word out to the masses than spending it patiently pointing out to my fellow DLR activists that they’re doing it all wrong.

I’d like to see Grant Hall quit the STAR Trust and return to his roots. I reckon he’d make a great spokesman for GreenCross New Zealand. They could use a level head.