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  Reply # 1536869 20-Apr-2016 17:04
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Rikkitic:

 

I have somewhat mixed feelings about referenda. In principle, I believe in them and they fit my ideas about democracy and personal responsibility. At the same time, I am sensitive to the risk of emotional and uninformed decision-making by the unwashed masses. I have been going back and forth on this since it was raised here and I'm still not sure. A problem for me is that I don't have a whole lot of confidence in the decision-making qualities of our politicians. On something this important, I would want to see a process that actually looked at all the evidence as dispassionately as possible and came up with an informed result not influenced by prejudice, lobby groups, emotion or special interests. Is that even possible?

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

Watch Parliament TV for a few weeks and you will seriously doubt if there is sufficient grey matter to in the Beehive to make such a decision either. frown





Mike
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The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

 It's our only home, lets clean it up then...

 

Take My Advice, Pull Down Your Pants And Slide On The Ice!

 

 


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  Reply # 1536887 20-Apr-2016 17:51
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Here's more evidence of the failure of the "war on drugs".

 

US life expectancy declines - analysts cite drug overdoses:

 

New York Times article

 

Two of the reasons that people die from overdose are the uncontrolled purity of street drugs, and the reluctance to seek urgent medical help by people who are present, due to fear of arrest.  

 

Free access (not prescription only) to Naloxone (antidote to opiate overdose) should reduce deaths - the same way free access to Epipen reduces deaths from allergies.  Unfortunately Epipens are too expensive and short shelf life.  There was a recent case of a young person in Ireland who died on the doorstep of a pharmacy from anaphylaxis , while his parents pleaded with the pharmacist for an Epipen.  The pharmacist would not give them one - they are "prescription only" in Ireland.  Crazy drug policies aren't just with narcotics.


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  Reply # 1536959 20-Apr-2016 20:02
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An essay from Kofi Annan

 

 

In my experience, good public policy is best shaped by the dispassionate analysis of what in practice has worked, or not. Policy based on common assumptions and popular sentiments can become a recipe for mistaken prescriptions and misguided interventions.

 

Nowhere is this divorce between rhetoric and reality more evident than in the formulation of global drug policies, where too often emotions and ideology rather than evidence have prevailed.

 

Take the case of the medical use of cannabis. By looking carefully at the evidence from the United States, we now know that legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes has not, as opponents argued, led to an increase in its use by teenagers. By contrast, there has been a near tripling of American deaths from heroin overdoses between 2010 and 2013, even though the law and its severe punishments remain unchanged.

 

This year, between April 19 and 21, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a special session on drugs and the world will have a chance to change course. As we approach that event, we need to ask ourselves if we are on the right policy path. More specifically, how do we deal with what the United

 

Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has called the “unintended consequences” of the policies of the last 50 years, which have helped, among other things, to create a vast, international criminal market in drugs that fuels violence, corruption and instability? Just think of the 16,000 murders in Mexico in 2013, many of which are directly linked to drug trafficking.

 

A War on the People

 

Globally, the “war on drugs” has not succeeded. Some estimate that enforcing global prohibition costs at least $100 billion (€90.7 billion) a year, but as many as 300 million people now use drugs worldwide, contributing to a global illicit market with a turnover of $330 billion a year, one of the largest commodity markets in the world.

 

Prohibition has had little impact on the supply of or demand for drugs. When law enforcement succeeds in one area, drug production simply moves to another region or country, drug trafficking moves to another route and drug users switch to a different drug. Nor has prohibition significantly reduced use. Studies have consistently failed to establish the existence of a link between the harshness of a country’s drug laws and its levels of drug use. The widespread criminalization and punishment of people who use drugs, the over­crowded prisons, mean that the war on drugs is, to a significant degree, a war on drug users ­­ a war on people.

 

Africa is sadly an example of these problems. The West Africa Commission on Drugs, which my foundation convened, reported last year that the region has now become not only a major transit point between producers in Latin America and consumers in Europe, but an area where consumption is increasing. Drug money, and the criminality associated with it, is fostering corruption and violence. The stability of countries and the region as a whole is under threat.
I believe that drugs have destroyed many lives, but wrong government policies have destroyed many more. We all want to protect our families from the potential harm of drugs. But if our children do develop a drug problem, surely we will want them cared for as patients in need of treatment and not branded as criminals.

 

Stop Stigmatizing and Start Helping

 

The tendency in many parts of the world to stigmatize and incarcerate drug users has prevented many from seeking medical treatment. In what other areas of public health do we criminalize patients in need of help? Punitive measures have sent many people to prison, where their drug use has worsened.

 

A criminal record for a young person for a minor drug offense can be a far greater threat to their wellbeing than occasional drug use. The original intent of drug policy, according to the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs, was to protect the “health and welfare of mankind.” We need to refocus international and national policy on this key objective.

 

This requires us to take four critical steps.

 

First, we must decriminalize personal drug use. The use of drugs is harmful and reducing those harms is a task for the public health system, not the courts. This must be coupled with the strengthening of treatment services, especially in middle and low­ income countries.

 

Second, we need to accept that a drug­-free world is an illusion. We must focus instead on ensuring that drugs cause the least possible harm. Harm reduction measures, such as needle exchange programs, can make a real difference. Germany adopted such measures early on and the level of HIV infections among injecting drug users is close to 5 percent, compared to over 40 percent in some countries which resist this pragmatic approach.

 

Third, we have to look at regulation and public education rather than the total suppression of drugs, which we know will not work. The steps taken successfully to reduce tobacco consumption (a very powerful and damaging addiction) show what can be achieved. It is regulation and education, not the threat of prison, which has cut the number of smokers in many countries. Higher taxes, restrictions on sale and effective anti­-smoking campaigns have delivered the right results.

 

The legal sale of cannabis is a reality that started with California legalizing the sale of cannabis for medical use in 1996. Since then, 22 U.S. states and some European countries have followed suit. Others have gone further still. A voter initiative which gained a majority at the ballot box has caused Colorado to legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational use. Last year, Colorado collected around $135 million in taxes and license fees related to legal cannabis sales. Others have taken less commercial routes. Users of Spain’s cannabis social clubs can grow and buy cannabis through small noncommercial organizations. And Canada looks likely to become the first G7 country to regulate the sale of cannabis next year.

 

Legal Regulation Protects Health

 

Initial trends show us that where cannabis has been legalized, there has been no explosion in drug use or drug­ related crime. The size of the black market has been reduced and thousands of young people have been spared criminal records. But a regulated market is not a free market. We need to carefully think through what needs regulating, and what does not. While most cannabis use is occasional, moderate and not associated with significant problems, it is nonetheless precisely because of its potential risks that it needs to be regulated.

 

And therefore, the fourth and final step is to recognize that drugs must be regulated precisely because they are risky. It is time to acknowledge that drugs are infinitely more dangerous if they are left solely in the hands of criminals who have no concerns about health and safety. Legal regulation protects health. Consumers need to be aware of what they are taking and have clear information on health risks and how to minimize them. Governments need to be able to regulate vendors and outlets according to how much harm a drug can cause. The most risky drugs should never be available “over the counter” but only via medical prescription for people registered as dependent users, as is already happening in Switzerland.

 

Scientific evidence and our concern for health and human rights must shape drug policy. This means making sure that fewer people die from drug overdoses and that small-­time offenders do not end up in jail where their drug problems get worse. It is time for a smarter, health­-based approach to drug policy. It is time for countries, such as Germany, which have adopted better policies at home, to strongly advocate for policy change abroad. The United Nations General Assembly special session on the world drug problem would be a good place to start.

 


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  Reply # 1536969 20-Apr-2016 20:16
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The whole concept of a "war on drugs" is concerning... it indicates that this is a fight to the death, with whatever resources needed to be spent on it. And that law-abiding citizens' rights will be trodden on.

 

And the first casualty of war is truth.

 

 


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  Reply # 1536999 20-Apr-2016 20:55
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SaltyNZ:

MikeB4:



With regards to Methamphetamine my son explained the effects this drug has and its insidious way it will lead the user to requiring more and more very quickly. The details I do recall enough to repeat here but I will ring him later, but it is scary stuff.



 


Still, it can be controlled. As a psychologist, your son would know that. ADD/ADHD drugs are, essentially, controlled doses of amphetamines. Users are closely monitored, and controls on how often repeat prescriptions can be filled are very tight. They're also basically free due to Pharmac, which should go a long way towards showing that legalised versions of such substances won't necessarily be more expensive than black-market ones.



There are tens of substances that are controlled and funded by pharmac yet illegal to trade.

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  Reply # 1537059 20-Apr-2016 22:14
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 Posted earlier about my position but since the topic has developed, ill throw my two cents in again.

 

Referendum?

 

Two sides of the argument. The people should be informed of the pros and cons of both sides and make their own, informed decision. This would only work if people were open to new ideas. Open to the idea that their view of the world may be wrong. The average person is not open to this idea. because they're not open to this idea, they're unlikely to make an informed decision and base their decision on emotion, not logical thought. Take the fluoridation of the drinking water. or anti-vaxers as a more extreme example. People learn of the generic impact of chemicals being put into them without their permission. The government is forcing us to drink a poison. Or in the case of vaccines, inject mercury along with other weird chemicals. A basic google search will support their argument that these chemicals are bad and so their opinion is right in their eyes without looking at another person point of view that notes that small doses of a lot of poisons are not only safe, but also beneficial.

 

For this reason the logical course would be to leave it up to those who act on rational thought, MP's are supposed to be those bastions but they're not so its a difficult situation where the people informed scream yes, those uninformed scream no and politicians are forced to make their own decision, usually they're also uninformed.

 

 

 

Now drugs are dangerous and generally are bad for your health. I noted someone earlier mentioned they didn't see why healthy people would drink or smoke pot. Not sure what they were implying but it is true. Healthy people tend to feel like they don't need supplements to live. Which it is a great thing. But not everyone lives the best life, many have mental issues, Quick note, mental issues does not mean a person is not sane of mind. A smoker may know that what they smoke is killing them, but many do so anyway. These people who have mental issues, or more accurately, are mentally strained resort to drugs. not everyone does. Drugs are bad and that plays a serious effect on ones decision making but cutting oneself is bad as well but that doesn't stop teenagers across the country from trying to take their own life or mutilating their arms. People are driven out of desperation to do something to relieve an issue in their life. Criminals play on this desperation giving people drugs that make you feel better than how you were. People want happiness. This is the human condition and sometimes that drive for happiness is powerful enough to negate ones health.

 

 

 

So how bad are drugs?

 

We know how bad Meth, opioids and other hard drugs can be but what about the softer stuff? The three most commonly used illegal drugs are cannabis, ecstasy and MDMA. Since cannabis is the most commonly debated drug because of its health benefits and wide spread abuse, lets look at the next two most commonly abused drugs.

 

MDMA is the key chemical in Ecstasy, much like Heroin is made from Morphine.

 

According to www.drugfoundation.org.nz, MDMA has caused 3 deaths in total in New Zealand.

 

MDMA is far from a safe drug. It causes an increase in heart rate, sweating and body heat. These can cause death though generally does not. High use of MDMA can cause Serotonin Syndrome which in extreme cases can cause death and has a number of other health issues like depression.

 

However its easy to not the dangers without noting the risk. A common dose of MDMA, less in Ecstasy is roughly 125mg's. This dosage can and does increase body temperature, leading to sweating and dehydration that is commonly ignored by first time users. It also has a low which has a collation with depression, especially causing a deep depression in already depressed users.

 

However people are still likely to continue to use MDMA even with these side effects.

 

Something to note, Ecstasy is MDMA, generally cut with other drugs like Meth, BZP and DXM. This is where the most actual danger is when it comes to the use of MDMA and Ecstasy (MDMA can sometimes be cut with something else or be something completely different)

 

This is where I would argue decriminalizing MDMA would be a good thing. Whether the source is government owned or corporate, it allows for clarity in what people are actually taking so we don't end up with cases of people being severely injured or killed by "MDMA" that turns out to be an experimental drug that has gone through no testing.

 

Here, legalizing, allowing for a safety net of controls that catches any impure drugs from hurting people would be better than the current situation.

 

MDMA users tend to be just happy and docile when compared to alcohol users.

 

Again, while I agree that removing drug use all together would be great, in reality it is highly unlikely. The purpose of government is to keep the people safe. if decriminalizing a drug means less people being injured, then where is the problem.

 

 

 

So what's the cost of legalizing and distributing drugs to the people through legal means?

 

To be quite honest, I am not informed enough to have an answer on the per pill cost. However there are other sides to that issue that I can comment on. When drugs become cheap and readily available with no risk of prosecution and being supplied by the government, the ability for gangs to sell at a competitive price is gone. A common misconception is just because drug users are consuming potentially dangerous substances, does not mean they would be against spending a bit more for a safer option. If the government were to supply drugs at a lower price and the difference between a pure pill and a shady pill is a few $, most people would take the safer pill. Now assuming that the use of for example MDMA is cheaper and safer, this does not mean that people will buy more. Drug abusers will potentially do so but others wont. Overall if the price drop is significant enough, it would in fact lead to a small boom in the economy as people who would other spend hundreds of money on drugs going directly into the pockets of gangs, they would have money they would otherwise not have to spend on other things. Whether its food, luxuries or anything else, that is money that would have otherwise gone back to gangs. We're talking about millions.

 

This would also have a knock on effect on crime as gangs lose their main source of funding, police stop spending millions on finding and destroying drugs as drugs become controlled.

 

 I think the big thing people who are against decriminalizing drugs are worried about is the implications on families. Will a heroin user start shooting up in front of their kids? start sharing their drugs with their kids. What happens then? This is a good question, but how often does this happen already? I would argue the chances of kids doing drugs from family members is high considering how high drug use already supposedly is. It's not a good argument but while decriminalizing drug use may lead to more dangers to kids, it could also allow for measures to be put in place on users who are abusers. This really is not an issue that can be summed up in a forum topic.

 

This went on a bit longer than I thought it would. I did have a few other points I wanted to mention on different areas of the topic but I have since forgotten.




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  Reply # 1537162 21-Apr-2016 08:26
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The statement from Kofi Annan is a long read but anyone genuinely interested in this issue, pro or con, should take the trouble. I believe it succinctly and eloquently addresses the concerns that have been raised about drug decriminalisation. Also, the argument repeatedly raised by at least one individual here that legalisation won't cut into the illegal trade is patently specious nonsense. Even if legal marijuana and possibly other substances did end up costing more than the black market prices through regulation and taxation, which I doubt anyway, many more people who wanted to use these substances would still prefer the legal outlets. How much of a market is there for bootleg whisky? Simply logic says there would be few customers for the gangs even if their dope was cheaper, which, again, I very much doubt.

 

 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 




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  Reply # 1537189 21-Apr-2016 08:41
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Rudster:

 

 Posted earlier about my position but since the topic has developed, ill throw my two cents in again.

 

 

Another long read but informative and some good points made. A main argument against easing prohibitions on so-called 'soft' drugs is their supposed function as 'gateways' to more serious abuse. I woud suggest that those gateways already exist with perfectly legal substances. Young kids killing themselves or doing really serious damage to their nervous systems from sniffing petrol, butane, spray paint and other truly awful chemicals is the proof of that. Kids do stupid things but that shouldn't be a life sentence. If I had  to choose, I would certainly rather see them smoking grass than doing some of those other things.

 

 





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  Reply # 1537413 21-Apr-2016 13:02
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A meth user study was referred to again on Paul Henry today by Henry and by the police commissioner. 

 

The study (which I confused yesterday with a survey) did find that 3/4 meth users can get hold of it within one hour.  The police commissioner noted that the police had been very successful in reducing the cannabis trade.  But, despite their best efforts and an increase in arrests, prosecutions, conviction and asset seizures - meth continues to proliferate.

 

One could infer an unintended (although not unexpected) consequence of pressure on cannabis supply is a surge in meth supply.

 

Meth seems to be a much more harmful drug than pot.





Mike



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  Reply # 1537476 21-Apr-2016 13:56
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I'm in favour of responsible regulation of all drugs, but if police have to be involved in this, then focussing their resources on something as harmful as meth is certainly a lot better than wasting them on something as innocuous as pot.

 

 





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  Reply # 1537500 21-Apr-2016 14:26
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I suspect they are focussing resources on both.  Pot is more difficult to produce, so they are having more success suppressing pot but this simply displaces effort into the more harmful and difficult to stop meth production.

 

MDMA is difficult to synthesise, it used to be imported.  Very successful at border initiatives have all but stopped it.  Again meth fills the vacuum.

 

I don't blame enforcement agencies for this - they are simply doing what the law says they should.  But we need to consider changing the law to focus on where the most serious harm is.

 

There will always be proportion of the population that uses drugs.  We can only really influence which drug(s) are used and how much carnage supports the production and purchase.

 

Rikkitic:

 

I'm in favour of responsible regulation of all drugs, but if police have to be involved in this, then focussing their resources on something as harmful as meth is certainly a lot better than wasting them on something as innocuous as pot.

 

 

 





Mike

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  Reply # 1537770 21-Apr-2016 21:39
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I'm surprised they haven't lost the war on speeding.


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  Reply # 1537850 22-Apr-2016 01:16
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Medical is currently legal in Canada and a recent court decision allows patients to grow their own. Now Canada will introduce legislation to decriminalize recreational cannabis:

Guardian: Canada’s Liberal government will introduce legislation to decriminalise and regulate recreational marijuana in spring 2017, according to the health minister, Jane Philpott.

Philpott, speaking on Wednesday at a special session of the UN general assembly in New York on drug problems around the world, said the Canadian law will ensure marijuana is kept away from children and will keep criminals from profiting from its sale.

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  Reply # 1538047 22-Apr-2016 12:40
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My observation as someone who started driving in the 1990's is that speeding has very substantially decreased.

 

Most of the traffic I encounter is travelling below the posted speed limit.

 

joker97:

 

I'm surprised they haven't lost the war on speeding.

 





Mike

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  Reply # 1543026 27-Apr-2016 20:27
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Prescription Thugs is on NZ Netflix. Might be worth a watch if you're interested in the prescription drug abuse problem in the US.


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