My thoughts on the Internet Party cannabis policy

One of the reasons I first got interested in the Greens, before MMP and long before I ever joined the party, was the cannabis policy. It may not be the most important issue in the world but I see it as a kind of litmus test of a party’s integrity. The issue is so politically sensitive that most party’s will, at best, keep silent on the question of law reform, despite knowing that prohibition does infinitely more harm and costs the economy vastly more than cannabis use itself does.

Until now the Greens have been the only party in Parliament, or with any show of getting into Parliament, with a rational drug policy. Until now. Today the Internet Party announced a cannabis policy that is the most progressive and evidence based of any political party likely to be in the next Parliament.

What does it say?

Firstly, the Internet Party would allow cannabis to be prescribed as a medicine – not through legislation but by an administrative amendment. This would take the decision about medical marijuana out of the hands of politicians and give it to doctors, where it belongs. Since there is no legal supply of natural cannabis, they would allow medical users to grow a set amount for themselves or nominate someone to do it for them if they are unable to.

Secondly, they would immediately change the law to allow adults to cultivate and possess cannabis for personal use. While they do not specify how many plants that would be (simply saying that decision should be based on research), they do promise to remove the ‘reverse onus’ provision of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Currently, and contrary to basic principles of justice, if a person is caught with over an ounce of cannabis they have to prove that they are not selling it.

Thirdly the Internet Party would develop a system to regulate and tax the market. This is the best, and most courageous, part of the policy. The reality is that decriminalising cannabis is a good first step, but it can never deal with all of the problems of prohibition. Even if people can grow their own cannabis, most will still want to buy it, just as they prefer to buy beer even though there is no law against brewing it. A market for cannabis will always exist and unless it is properly regulated the problems of sales to underage buyers, organised crime and loss of tax revenue will remain the same. Regulating the cannabis market is not currently supported by the majority of New Zealanders the way that decriminalisation is, but it is the right thing to do.

Finally the Internet Party would use some of the huge financial savings made from taking cannabis users out of the criminal justice system, to resource increased drug education, health promotion and addiction treatment. I worked with Laila Harre when she was Minister of Youth Affairs on a Green initiative to increase funding for drug education. Some Ministers liked to throw money at programmes with charismatic front-people, even when they were ineffective. Laila, in contrast, was focussed on what kinds of approaches actually made a difference to young people’s health outcomes. This was usually programmes that treated young people as intelligent and able to make good decisions for themselves if they had balanced information.

I think this policy is a brave move. No doubt it will lead to some interesting conversations with Mana. It will be controversial. But it is also astute. The Greens still support law reform, and will be important in getting any legislative change through Parliament, but understandably it is a low priority for them. There is now no one in Parliament proactively speaking up for law reform. Thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of votes are looking for somewhere more promising than the ALCP. If Laila Harre is serious about this, she would be the perfect person to take cannabis law reform through Parliament. She is courageous, intelligent and informed – without being vulnerable to the kinds of attacks made on me when I was championing cannabis law reform in Parliament as an “out” cannabis smoker. As the only party seriously pushing for the youth vote, this is sure to be a winner for Internet Mana.

The policy can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FFXG3tWggczbmzJ1MK7WL0qxJyrmgGMHhtcDZCN6INE/edit

Tagged , ,

18 thoughts on “My thoughts on the Internet Party cannabis policy

  1. Liz Arden says:

    Totally… gotta read this … excellent.. 🙂

  2. Alex Smith says:

    Thank you for your views. I like the approach too. It is frustrating that everyone has been avoiding this issue so far.

  3. mianathanjoyce says:

    Excellent news for cancer patients and other illnesses that cannabis helps to aid with the healing process.

  4. Lisa Presland says:

    I think this article is great as is the policy its one thing i totally agree with. As a sufferer of chronic pain being able to grow a couple of plants would be a godsend and no longer having to rely on toxic pharmaceuticals would change my life immensely

  5. Rita Masefield says:

    This is the first thing that I have read in ages that is deals with the real issues move forward new Zealand about time.

  6. John Allen says:

    One related point – the current regulatory restriction on growing industrial hemp need to also be lifted so that the economic potential of this crop can be developed.

    • Kieran says:

      I agree, hemp oil can even be refined to make fuel. Not to mention much tougher textiles. Possible hemp by-products are virtually endless.

  7. They have my vote, i love a party that actually looks at the evidence!

  8. yep agree of all the politicians Laila will be awesome spokesperson

  9. If smoking pot is not such a big deal, how can merely helping people smoke pot by supplying the raw material justify locking anyone in a cage for years,or taking their house and other property premised on a value that can only be attributed to prohibition’s marginal risk, or denial of ethical right to adult consensual behaviour.

    We already have the rules right for cannabis. We just need to make it so.

    Vote for Class D, – replace the failed and flawed PSA Bill with what we had already in place and was described as the worlds best drug laws (Prof David Nutt, who also said of these rule “I wished I had thought of them myself” – Otago Medical School. CHCH lecture)

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2008/0373/latest/whole.html

    The right to possess is a barren right without the right to free exchange, commercially trade, cultivate, process package and store, transport, research, and merchandise (advertise) with certain normative constraints (R18) etc. Class D does all this.with appropriate restrictions, guidelines and controls. First mooted by Jim Anderton and later adopted by Helen Clark’s Caucus by ‘order in council’ it was gazetted and royal assent given and became law the day John Key became right and Honourable. (2008)

    I am quietly critical of the current analysis by IMP (and others) for not recognising how important the 2008 crucial adjustment was… it resolved the tensions while addressing the concerns and would have allayed fears where there should be none. (and we would have been seen to lead the world in drug policy, a badge of honour indeed).

    It is consistent with National ‘All Drug” policy. And just like Colorado, it isn’t the legalising of cannabis so we can smoke more (which has always been, and will remain contentious in its own right) it is the managing and displacing alcohol related harms that is the KEY benefit IMHO that needs to be sold to the electorate.

    Elsewise, absent reform, we are just driving people to drink!

    Who wouldn’t support that!

  10. Well written sir and definitely deserves a coffee

  11. Kail Watson says:

    Thanks for your thoughts & research Nandor, I agree for the most part but would question the position you’ve taken in this article regarding tax revenue. It opens the way perhaps for a further discussion about tax revenue generally & the privately owned global centralised banking system whose shareholders receive most of that revenue (the 1% in todays popular vernacular).

    This leads to a wider discussion about the need for significant restructering of our economic system as a whole so that our blood, sweat & tears (our life force energy) is not being syphoned off by transnational pyschopathic corporate banking parasites. If the tax revenue you speak of was actually contributing to our communities in some positive way then fine but the fact is that our reserve bank & treasury provides & regulates the supply of credit in NZ like every other country by borrowing credit at interest from the centralised banking cartel & our income tax goes to pay the interest on those loans.

    In a debt based economy where debt continues to rise because debt is required for the economy to function (because the money which most accept is debt based currency) & because interest is paid on that debt thereby increasing the debt expodentially causing the need for ever growing profits to feed the ever growing debt, in a world of finite resources this causes cost cutting & competitive measures which causes social & environmental dysfunction, imbalance & disease.

    The end result is debt slavery & bankruptcy, the end game comes when the debt is so big that privatisation occurs to supposedly help manage & ease the debt (which was created out of thin air as a result of the compliance of our government & almost all governments around the world) but what it actually does is transfer public assets which the public has paid for into private hands thereby again increasing the profits & power of the 1%.

    So I’m all for progressive policy regarding ganja which decrimanlises & allows greater balance, health & wellbeing for our communities & even regulation of a market so that other resources are created for further community well being but until we see significant restructuring of our economic system we will not experience preservation, restoration, ecology, health, prosperity, equality or justice only their opposites.

    Unfortunately I’m not aware of many political parties or candidates that are even prepared to begin having a discussion regarding systemic monetary reform & the creation of a national currency in NZ which does not rely on borrowed credit from the international central banks. Until we do away with the central banks we are still largely screwed regardless of what happens with hemp. Still I recognise the need for progressive & transitional steps which lead us in the right direction & are an improvement on where we’re currently at so any way thanks again & some further food for thought.

    Cheers

    Kail

  12. Julie Beauchamp says:

    Well put together let’s have hope that this issure will have good building blocks to collectively reform our cannabi laws.Medical is where it will help too pressure will come from pharmaceutical companys as they get major coin.

  13. Rapana says:

    Do doctors really understand or support all the medical uses of marihuana ? Some may be accepted but what about some of the claims that hemp oil can treat skin cancer, for example, or that cannabis can effectively treat chrone’s disease or, severe autistic disorders, epilepsy etc. The medical profession can be quite famous for resisting any natural based treatments that haven’t had millions of dollars spent on clinical trials. The improvements are a welcome change of course but it could be that some people still can’t access cannabis for medical reasons if it depends on doctor’s approval. Perhaps naturopaths, herbalists and other health professionals should be included, even counsellors and psychiatrists too.

  14. John Drinnan says:

    It would be good for the companies who got to supply medical marijuana and paraphernalia.
    There would be some money to be made.

  15. Rob Ueberfeldt says:

    Mana and IP cannabis policy is too little too late. Vote for them for the reasons they were set up IE Maori rights issues, internet privacy and unions, not to progress drug law reform as that is not on the agenda for Hone or Kim.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s