The Global Commission on Drug Policy

June 11th, 2011 at 12:29 pm by David Farrar

Last week the release of a report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy made news around the world as it declared the war on a costly failure. Part of the reason it got so much publicity was that the Commissioners included:

  • Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil
  • César Gaviria, former President of Colombia
  • Ernesto Zedillo, former President of México
  • George Shultz, former Secretary of State
  • Richard Branson, entrepreneur
  • Kofi Annan, former Un Secretary-General

Now I don’t necessairly disagree with the conclusion that the war on drugs has been a failure. Having said that, I’m not sure better alternatives have been articulated.

Anyway I got curious about this Global Commission that made headlines around the world. I wondered who actually established the group? Was it the UN? Was it a country? An NGO?

And then I wondered who selected the Commissioners? Did they select people known to share a common view that the war on drugs has failed? Did they advertise for Commissioners?

And finally I wondered who was paying the bills?

The interesting thing is that none of these questions can be found on the Commission’s website, or in their report. They seems to have had a virgin birth, just declaring their own existence.

So who can find out answers to the questions – who established the commission, who appointed the commissioners and who is paying the bills?

As far as I can tell no mainstream outlet has asked these questions, or more importantly included them in their reporting. If this was a group hand picked for their known opposition to current drug policy, that is a relevant piece of information.

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70 Responses to “The Global Commission on Drug Policy”

  1. flipper (3,575 comments) says:

    It is one thing to publish the names of “yesterday’s people” who put their names on a report.
    But ….
    Can we know
    1. who wrote it, who researched the data…..names, nations, CVs etc, please ?

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  2. hj (6,370 comments) says:

    Oh Gawd, they’ll legalise drugs and the hoodlums will all join their brothers in real estate!

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  3. Ryan Sproull (7,033 comments) says:

    Now I don’t necessairly disagree with the conclusion that the war on drugs has been a failure. Having said that, I’m not sure better alternatives have been articulated.

    How about it’s nobody else’s business what people take in the privacy of their own home and the nanny state can fuck off?

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  4. hj (6,370 comments) says:

    I think if you legalise drugs you have to rethink human rights; is a doped up human brain a human?? People will need protection. I think it makes sense.

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  5. Manolo (13,386 comments) says:

    The long sticky fingers of the witch exported to the United Nations, maybe? :D

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  6. reid (15,970 comments) says:

    As far as I can tell no mainstream media outlet has asked these questions, or more importantly included them in their reporting. If this was a group hand picked for their known opposition to current drug policy, that is a relevant piece of information.

    Not as relevant as why haven’t the world’s political leaders admitted that yes, the report does indeed point to a current and present reality which everyone with eyes and ears knows and accepts as an elephant-in-the-room sort of reality. Yes it’s true, the war on drugs has been a total failure, period, it’s obvious, everyone knows it, time to try something else.

    Why hasn’t the global MSM been hammering that angle, I wonder?

    I don’t really care who wrote it or what their motivations were for doing so. I don’t understand why that is relevant. Who cares? Surely the most relevant questions are: Is it true? If so, what are going to do about it?

    I’m just glad the authors have the collective gravitas to place it before the world. So I do care a little bit about who they are, just not what their motivation was.

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  7. redeye (631 comments) says:

    What reid said.

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  8. redeye (631 comments) says:

    Or you could ask, what motivation is there for a blogger who contracts to the alcohol industry to question the validity of a group that is trying to legalise recreational drugs?

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  9. reid (15,970 comments) says:

    Why would you want to ask that redeye?

    Are you saying vested interests are at play in this report? If so, which parties and what are they doing?

    I’m not talking about your analogy because I’m not interested in it, I’m talking about the people involved in writing or implementing this drug report…

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  10. Mick Mac (1,091 comments) says:

    did any of them inhale?

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  11. hj (6,370 comments) says:

    I think the point is that of the drug seizures we see something like 99%? get through so why empower the drug lords (including the Afghan poppy growers who finance the Taleban.

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  12. DJP6-25 (1,272 comments) says:

    Legalise them, and watch gang revenues crumble. You can also watch crime fall. Cheap drugs willl mean less crime to fund drug habits. Legalization will remove the element of them being forbidden fruit. Just do it. It will also lead to a decline in the corruption of law enforcement agencies.

    In the US; put the DEA people onto imigration enforcement.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  13. s.russell (1,564 comments) says:

    Even if they were hand-picked for their opposition to current drug policy, that’s a very impressive list of people who hold that view (and there are other big names not noted above), although the reasoning is more important than the list of who agrees.

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  14. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    …and who is paying the bills?

    The organisation include the words Global and Commission. I’d suggest that you and I are paying. Somehow, and by some means.

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  15. Rex Widerstrom (5,274 comments) says:

    It is certainly an oversight for the Commission not to declare its funding. But as others point out above, that in no way invalidates its findings DPF. In any case, it has been explained in the Wall Street Journal that:

    The Global Commission is funded by member Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group Ltd., George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, the Instituto Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the Centro Edelstein de Pesquisas Sociais in Brazil.

    so it’s no secret. That was also mentioned in The Australian and, I imagine, elsewhere in international media, so if you don’t know that in NZ then once again the local media has done a half-arsed job of reportage.

    Those people and organisations weren’t the prime movers, however. The Commission is modelled on the highly successful Latin American Initiative in Drugs and Democracy. It was the members of that Initiative who pushed to expand its work into a more global setting – people such as President Cardosa of Brazil, Zedillo of Mexico and Gaviria of Colombia. They roped in the other members, who then no doubt helped get Branson et al to provide the funding.

    As to your question on the alternatives they offer, the Commission isn’t presecriptive. Their approach (which is fairly clear from their website) is summarised by George Shultz and Paul Volcker in the Wall Street Journal:

    We do not support the simple legalization of all drugs. What we do advocate is an open and honest debate on the subject. We want to find our way to a less costly and more effective method of discouraging drug use, cutting down the power of organized crime, providing better treatment and minimizing negative societal effects.

    Other countries that have tried different approaches include Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal and Australia. What can we learn from these varied experiences, some more successful than others? What can we learn from our own experience in reducing sharply the smoking of cigarettes or in the handling of alcohol after the end of Prohibition?

    Simple legalization is by no means the only or safest approach. One possibility is to decriminalize the individual use of drugs while maintaining laws against supplying them, thus allowing law-enforcement efforts to focus on the drug peddlers. Some of the money that is saved can be spent on treatment centers, which drug users are more likely to seek out if doing so does not expose them to the risk of arrest.

    Their view is by no means new – people have been fruitlessly trying to talk sense to politicians – especially Western politicians, for whom a “war on crime” is a cheap and easy media pop which allows them to posture without worrying about actual success.

    The Messiah has already rejected it… which he was always going to do, of course. He just fooled enough of the people for just long enough that he was “change you can believe in” rather than just another member of the we-know-best elite with tired policies that have failed in the past and will fail again, as noted in Psychology Today’s interesting take, “Why Barack Obama Loves the War on Drugs”, written by a doctor of both psychology and jurisprudence.

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  16. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Well found Rex.

    The way I see things – and yes, I’m often accused of being too simplistic – is that the decision to use/abuse drugs (incl alcohol) is personalised, while the costs of adverse consequences are socialised. I can’t see any real progress on the harm caused by drugs until this structural problem is fixed.

    However lofty their goals, a Global Commission isn’t going to fix any this IMO.

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  17. reid (15,970 comments) says:

    Of course the Messiah has rejected it

    Yes Rex it’s hard to understand the US’ complete and utter obduracy over this issue. This is what makes the stances of other countries also so obdurate, since the US puts a lot of State Dept resources into combatting through diplomactic means any policies from other countries that run counter to its own line on drugs.

    I can’t understand why institutionally throughout generations I mean let’s say 40 years now, they’ve had such a consistent hard-on about it. Why?

    They seem to throw money at the war on drugs with the same gay abandon they throw money at the military. Why? Seems to me if its to be fought it has to be fought much much better.

    Surely the drug lords aren’t so diabolically clever as to outwit the combined might of everything that the US, UK, Canada and Western Europe can throw at it? You mean somehow, even though they all share vast amounts of intelligence of both signals, humint, commercial et al. You mean even after all that somehow, the drug lords are so fiendishly clever they can grow vast poppy fields in Afghanistan and somehow successfully ship so very very much to Western Europe that the price of heroin a few years ago hit an all time low? And this was just after the US invaded, since the Taliban had obliterated the entire industry, when it was in power over there. So they apparently couldn’t find the time to task a few Agent Orange overflights or anything like that, apparently. And continue to fail to find the time to do that, apparently.

    See, is this nuts, or what? Either it’s a massive 40-year-long cluster-fuck of the highest proportion ever in the field of utter futility, or they’re doing it on purpose. Failing, I mean.

    What other conclusions are there, from the facts as we all know and agree them?

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  18. AlphaKiwi (686 comments) says:

    Republican Presidential candidate has been saying the war on drugs is well and truly dead. Yet he can’t get a look in. The media shunned him last time around.

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  19. reid (15,970 comments) says:

    Yes why is the MSM silent on these rather obvious angles AK?

    I mean you would think that rather than cover mere drug busts with shoot-outs they’d be crawling all over this report, seeing as it seems to align with the reality of the last forty years and all.

    Perhaps the media: i.e. human beings who write stories and the ones who read them to us who we apparently “invite” into our living rooms [to use TVNZ's nauseating perspective], really don’t see what to everyone else, is a huge elephant, right there, in the room. There it is. Right fucking there.

    Perhaps for some reason, despite the fact their very job is to spot not just elephants but the slightest thing amiss in any room whatsoever, they just can’t see it. Perhaps they think it’s just one of those pretend elephants. Perhaps things like this happen to them, all the time.

    “And in the news today….”

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  20. PaulL (5,874 comments) says:

    reid: my view is the infinite ingenuity of the market. It’s yet another reason to love capitalism. The centralised use of power to attempt to stop the drug trade, utterly stymied by the might of the market, in which reduction in supply of drugs leads to increased prices, and increased profits for someone who finds a way around the laws. The more successful you are at reducing drug supply, the more people you drag into the market. You can never eliminate them.

    I’m fully behind trying something different. It’s been suggested that decriminalisation might lead to thousands of people wasting their lives in a drug addled stupour. Of course, the current policy leads to thousand of people wasting their lives in a drug addled stupour, more thousands locked up or otherwise criminalised, massive profits for gangs, crime to fund a the large profits of those gangs, and general social breakdown. So given a choice between the two, I’d go with decriminalisation, since I reckon it’s no worse and probably better.

    On decriminalising using drugs, but continuing to make supply illegal, that seems a bit bizzare. Kind of like the old prosecute the prostitute laws really. If people are allowed to take drugs, then they’ll be buying them somewhere. If you make it illegal to sell them, then people are still breaking the law.

    I’d probably decriminalise them and regulate them, like cigarettes. Control the quality and quantity, tie them up in red tape and regulations, but never make it quite so onerous for it to be profitable for gangs to smuggle. Run advertisements to make it uncool to use drugs, point out all the downsides, bring the addicts out into the open for everyone to see and pity (and so people can see what life as an addict really has in store for them). Make it no longer shameful to be an addict, but rather something to be pitied, help people to get treatment, treat it as an illness.

    And through all of this, generate a massive tax take (similar to the tobacco tax take) that can be used to offset any societal costs.

    I’d say that package of reforms would be far more useful than our current policy. I’m willing to believe there’s some better policy out there than my prescription, but in the absence of someone articulating it, I’d rather my prescription than what we have today.

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  21. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    “On decriminalising using drugs, but continuing to make supply illegal, that seems a bit bizzare.”

    It is, and it doesn’t work.

    “If people are allowed to take drugs, then they’ll be buying them somewhere. If you make it illegal to sell them, then people are still breaking the law.”

    Exactly, and what example does that set when it comes to encouraging respect for the law? A very bad one.

    So, two options, really: complete decriminalisation or a hard line policy.

    Decriminalisation, even of the so called ‘soft’ drug of cannabis, has become very unpopular in the Netherlands. Sweden has taken a far tougher stance and seems to have had a lot more success.

    My view, for what it is worth and based on fairly regular interaction with drug users of varying levels, is that drugs of all sorts are bad and have no redeeming feature. I don’t buy the ‘medicinal cannabis’ line except in a very few cases; mostly it is a Trojan horse. I say that having had a wee bit of experience dealing with the ALCP idiots, who will admit that in a quiet moment. The problems that drugs cause are far worse than alcohol and addicts are far greater as a percentage of users than alcohol, and any comparison to tobacco use is just ignorant.

    We should go hard line. Pursue the end users and your drug dealers won’t have a market to sell to. Mandatory imprisonment of anybody found possessing or using an illicit substance. Then, once they are released, mandatory rehab. Make it such a bad risk to use drugs that only the hardcore still do it (you will never get rid of them, so don’t focus on them). Raid nightclubs on a regular basis and hit the owners with permitting charges.

    And that is a criminal defence lawyer saying that!

    Edit: Oh, and George Soros? Hard left billionaire. Very much agenda driven. Kofi Annan? Useless UN based position seeker. Rubbish when it came to the crunch in Rwanda and still useless.

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  22. reid (15,970 comments) says:

    Paul the really big money in drugs begins in large scale production which always requires crops of certain kinds. Even if there are thousands of square kilometres and there are, we have all sorts of surveillance capabilities which deal with that sort of issue every single day.

    Why is it we somehow can’t simply pinpoint all the crops starting with the largest we see destroy them utterly then move to the next smallest and so on.

    It’s elementary strategy to stop it so why is this strategy not applied nor even discussed?

    Once they’ve been packaged the market ingenuity kicks in and the whole game changes, I agree, still even then we have powerful tools not least ability to peer into every single bank account in the world, I bet.

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  23. Rex Widerstrom (5,274 comments) says:

    reid asks:

    See, is this nuts, or what? Either it’s a massive 40-year-long cluster-fuck of the highest proportion ever in the field of utter futility, or they’re doing it on purpose. Failing, I mean.

    The obvious reason: It offers huge appeal to the Palindrones… people who see black/white right/wrong God fearing/heathen delineations in every issue. Tell them you’re “tough on crime” and you get their votes coz they don’t want no crim’nal (read: neegra) types stealin’ their pickups while they’re in the saloon. Anyone else shrugs and says “Well, they’re only criminals I guess” and looks at “more important” isues. In short, pandering to ignorance.

    It works a treat, after all. In today’s newspaper in WA the headline states bluntly that the “growing social divide” between the recipients of the benefits of mining and the rest of the community is fuelling crime (though the online story is headlined instead “Massive spike in Perth burglaries”).

    In it even senior police say that while they would always welcome new officers, simply throwing cops at the problem won’t fix the underlying social issues.

    And what does our genius Attorney General have to say? “They’re letting them out of jail too soon”. Riiight… never mind that they’re not rehabilitated or deterred no matter how long they’re in jail, let’s just go for the idiotic kneejerk response because it’ll play well in the peanut seats.

    The less obvious reason: (dons tinfoil hat) Look at who’s funding the campaigns of Senators, Congressional candidates and many would-be Presidents. And then, for fun, compare that list with the backers of the Republican who’s saying the “war” is lost, and see if any of the same names appear.

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  24. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    Agree with you re imprisonment, Rex. Gaol is a waste of time except as a punishment or as a preventive measure (keeping dangerous people out of society). If you want to stop people re-offending so much then we need to offer prisoners much more than we do currently.

    Teaching many of them to read would be a good start.

    More drug and alcohol rehab would be good too (and they are separate issues, in my view, and should be treated differently). We have had a thread on this recently, I think, but successful drug rehab would cut a hell of a lot of burglaries in most major centres.

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  25. reid (15,970 comments) says:

    We should go hard line. Pursue the end users and your drug dealers won’t have a market to sell to.

    FES I think that’s a really bad idea. This is reputed to be what has happened in the States with the blacks. Lots inside for possession. Huge cost. Bleak outlook.

    What is contradictory about decriminalising consumption but leaving supply criminalised? Any contradiction is a philosophical legal argument but this field doesn’t apply in the real world where we have to change the behaviour.

    See drugs exist cause for some reason fools love them. Apparently demand is through the roof, all the time, all over the place. Now given this fact of the marketplace, what the hell do you do about it? Do you pretend it doesn’t exist? Do you try and stop it by arresting every second person on every single street in NZ? You see, drugs are a human need.

    The only rational question for me is, does the harm done by gang profits outweigh the harm done by increased consumption if it were de-criminalised. The key point is, by how much would consumption increase? See most people argue or just simply assume that it would sky-rocket but why? Why? Seriously, anywhere in the world, anyone who wants a particular drug seems to find it, period. They already do that now. I concede we would without doubt get the same effect we saw with Liabore’s incredibly foolish 18 year old drinking policy. That was quite foolish and yes we would see the same effect here, with that move.

    However on the positive side we have the complete and utter elimination I mean total and immediate cut-off of all the sweet cash that gang scum have used to enrich their beneath-contempt selves for the last how many decades now. We stop that, straight away, permanently.

    Now Liarbore’s drinking policy was dumb cause it didn’t have much if any plus apart from promoting Hulun’s agenda of corrupting the young, but this policy does have that significant upside which has all sorts of ramifications in all sorts of criminal areas. If gangs don’t have cash, they can’t do fuck all. Phoo man, this dole don’t pay too fuckin much does it.

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  26. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    I agree with 98% of what of the Earl of Birkenhead says, the only problem being the more people put before the Courts the slower the process becomes and then the Courts soften up sentencing because the prisons are full.

    If a hard line policy is to be taken, it has to be resourced.
    Politicians decide things but never resource.

    I am still waiting for the drunk recover centres that were to be established after the Summary Offence Act replaced the Police Offences Act .

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  27. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    “What is contradictory about decriminalising consumption but leaving supply criminalised? Any contradiction is a philosophical legal argument but this field doesn’t apply in the real world where we have to change the behaviour.”

    It is, but with a real effect in the real world. I don’t believe that you can say that purchasing and using drugs is ok but selling them is bad. It is illogical. People, especially young people, can see that illogicality and once they have accepted that, what is to stop them simply coming to the conclusing that the law is an ass? If you are going to decriminalise or legalise end use, go the whole way and legalise distribution as well.

    “This is reputed to be what has happened in the States with the blacks. Lots inside for possession.”

    I am not sure it is as bad as you think. The blacks in the US have problems that are not really transferable to NZ in this respect, and I suspect that “possession” is often a plea bargain charge that has seen dealing charges dropped. That is a real problem with US criminal litigation- it is all about resolution and nothing about truth.

    “You see, drugs are a human need.”

    Disagree completely on that one. Mind altering drugs are a want, not a need. We don’t actually need them in any way, shape or form. And don’t go down the chocolate/brain receptors and all that sort of stuff (which I am sure you won’t!) because we are talking two very different levels of mind alteration.

    “Now Liarbore’s drinking policy was dumb cause it didn’t have much if any plus apart from promoting Hulun’s agenda of corrupting the young”

    Agreed, but that is because we don’t have a healthy approach to drinking in NZ. In fact, in the English speaking world. The Europeans have a far healthier approach to alchohol, despite often starting consumption at a far younger age than in NZ or the UK. I don’t think this argument applies to drugs, though.

    “If gangs don’t have cash, they can’t do fuck all.”

    Yep, get rid of the end user and you will get rid of that problem. You see, if you legalise or decriminalise, then the gangs will still have primacy because they will then by trying to circumvent importation and distribution laws, or just avoid taxes. I don’t accept that simply legalisation will solve the problem. Moreover, don’t forget that the drugs will still be illegal in the countries of origin (other than cannabis, obviously) so organised crime will still be involved, even if supply is illegal in NZ but possession legal.

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  28. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Reid

    The really big money is in powder, weed is a living but there has never been cash like it in New Zealand since meth took off.

    The majority of quality weed in NZ is now grown in doors, bush weed is on the way out, its not strong enough. The annual police cannabis recover operation is redundant being nothing more than a few days out for the cops involved,- we are not talking about acres and acres, like is grown in Queensland and WA.

    Lastly anyone that would consider legalising meth use in any form is absolutely fucking nuts.

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  29. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    Paul, agree with each of your points. Would need to be properly resourced, but would hopefully be compensated a little with fewer multi-defendant meth trials that take 2-3 months and tie up huge resources. As you will well know, much cheaper to prosecute possession (because the fact of possession is difficult to dispute) than conspiracy to supply etc.

    Prison cells may be an issue, but I don’t think Kiwibloggers would have a problem with that!

    Edit: and definitely agree with your 7.03 comment.

    Further edit: Rex, my apologies, I meant to type reid! reid, please see yourself being replied to and not Rex!

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  30. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    Ok, I am getting ahead of myself. Or behind. Please ignore the further edit from my last comment!

    ‘deep breath’

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  31. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    I’d like to see similar controls to those that apply for alcohol. Most of these substances are only very damaging at high or repeated doses. In any event, alcohol and tobacco are by a long way the most harmful substances in society.

    Let all the drug ‘criminals’ out of prison – then there’d be more than enough room to satisfy the lock-em-up-longer brigade.

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  32. reid (15,970 comments) says:

    I don’t believe that you can say that purchasing and using drugs is ok but selling them is bad. It is illogical. People, especially young people, can see that illogicality and once they have accepted that, what is to stop them simply coming to the conclusing that the law is an ass?

    I suspect those people likely to conclude the law is an ass have already done so. In addition whether or not the law is an ass isn’t normally top of mind for most people so, so what if a few more people think it?

    Mind altering drugs are a want, not a need.

    Completely agree, my poor choice of words is at fault, my apologies FES. Yes it is a want. My central point however is the demand exists, it always has and possibly always will, until we get some really good drugs that make us think we don’t want any drugs at all since life is just simply as wonderful as it could possibly ever be.

    Yep, get rid of the end user and you will get rid of that problem.

    FES it’s a practical, engineering-type question, as to what needs to happen to identify, track and eliminate every single drug user. It’s all very well to pass the law, then comes enforcement, and how. And why? This is like trying to reduce pharmaceutical cost by eliminating the patients, isn’t it?

    :)

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  33. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    I think I view drug use as a different creature, reid, because of the damage I have seen it do. I remember watching one young 17 year old girl, a gorgeous (seriously), vibrant and intelligent young woman, just out of school, become a haggard, Hep. C positive, listless criminal, all through starting out with a drug using boyfriend. Oddly enough, none of her offences related to her needing money to obtain drugs (she usually didn’t), but through behaviours that came about during drug use. It was heartbreaking to see, and very tough on her family (who hardly ever saw her after she got addicted).

    So I think that it is worth the cost. This isn’t about a ‘war on drugs’ type situation so much as focussing on easily done with present resources. The police already arrest a fair number of people on drug possession charges. Without even escalating resources in this area, you could make a real impact if you simply imprisoned every person found guilty of illicit drug possession. Police walking a beat through the drinking areas of the major cities would scare a lot of user off if they knew detection would lead to imprisonment. When it leads to a fine, or a warning, nobody cares.

    “I suspect those people likely to conclude the law is an ass have already done so. In addition whether or not the law is an ass isn’t normally top of mind for most people so, so what if a few more people think it?”

    I accept that point, but that realisation is something that can be delayed or averted through consistent application of the law. When it comes to drug policy, that is an easy area to be consistent in. And the problem with a few more people thinking that the law is an ass? Well, my view is that such a view often leads to a willingness to be selective in following the law. It is bad to burgle a house, but ok to shoplift a chocolate bar. It is bad to sell drugs but ok to use them. Assaulting someone is bad, but it is ok if they are up for a fight.

    Maybe that latter one isn’t so good, but perhaps you get my point?

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  34. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    “alcohol and tobacco are by a long way the most harmful substances in society.”

    have to disagree with you, mike. alcohol, yes, but still not as bad as drugs when you consider the number of users. Tobacco, not at all. Yes it causes cancer etc etc, but on that basis we should ban McDonalds.

    Drugs are mind altering and have very serious side effects, even long after they have stopped being used. Alcohol does cause real problems, but, as I said, nowhere near as consistently as illicit drugs.

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  35. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    I can’t see how imprisoning MORE people would solve anything. A punitive approach will not succeed any more than it has in the past. Only full legalisation of substances would allow a comprehensive harm-reduction approach to be followed, in the same way we already do with alcohol and tobacco. Locking up every drug user makes as much sense as locking up every drinker and smoker..

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  36. reid (15,970 comments) says:

    Look at who’s funding the campaigns of Senators, Congressional candidates and many would-be Presidents. And then, for fun, compare that list with the backers of the Republican who’s saying the “war” is lost, and see if any of the same names appear.

    Rex who are you getting at here?

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  37. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    actually, mike, if I recall, recreational drug use really started increasing once we stopped imprisoning people for possession. A relaxed attitude that came in to NZ in the 1970s has had consequences for today. Through much of the last 20 years we haven’t had a punitive approach to drug possession, it has taken a number of offences by a person before the Courts start to consider prison. Hell, the standard fine for first time cannabis possession is $150, often less than for breaking an alcohol ban.

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  38. Rex Widerstrom (5,274 comments) says:

    F E S:

    I remember watching one young 17 year old girl, a gorgeous (seriously), vibrant and intelligent young woman, just out of school, become a haggard, Hep. C positive, listless criminal, all through starting out with a drug using boyfriend.

    So have I, many a time. In one case someone very close to me. So how then do you reconcile such a sad – and to some extent helpless (as soon as the boyfriend gave her the first hit) – case with:

    Pursue the end users and your drug dealers won’t have a market to sell to. Mandatory imprisonment of anybody found possessing or using an illicit substance… [and] you could make a real impact if you simply imprisoned every person found guilty of illicit drug possession

    An impact, yes – a devastating and negative one. Has the young girl in your example not suffered enough? Not that we should let her continue, or just resort, as a society, to pleading with her to cease self-destructing (as, I have no doubt, was everyone who loved her, to no avail).

    Better, surely, that when she inevitably comes into the criminal justice system we show her the inside of a prison (briefly, perhaps for a night of remand) and then say “it’s that or successful rehab”? Often the carrot – of stopping hurting those you love and living a productive, fulfilling life – isn’t enough to break the grip of addiction. But combine it with the stick of a suspended prison term and I’ve seen it work wonders (through the Drug Court here in WA).

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  39. reid (15,970 comments) says:

    I think I view drug use as a different creature, reid, because of the damage I have seen it do.

    I too observe the damage nay carnage FES. I come back to the difference between influencing human behaviour and the law. They are not the same thing.

    Human desire for drugs will not change as a result of an act of Parliament.

    Acts of Parliament serve to change behaviours, not desires.

    It’s the desire for drugs that is the key to this issue and how can a society address that rationally unless and until it drops its judgemental frameworks?

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  40. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    I think what is more likely to be the case is that as drug use has risen a slightly more liberal approach has inevitably followed. So I this case I rather think that increased drug use has forced softer punishments, rather than softer punishments encouraging more drug use. The reality is that any substance is available today for anyone who cares to buy it. The problems faced by the small minority with serious drug issues are only hampered by the illegality of their substance of choice.

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  41. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    FES

    Feb 1980 made my first drug arrest involving 3 ounce bags , this ended up as a trial in the Supreme Court No 1 Court Room ( a beautiful room) Auckland City!!!FFS- three ounces.

    One of my last was in March 2004 involving 50 plus kilos, District Court plea bargin, one in the pokey for 9 months, discharge for the wife.

    My point being, familarity breeds contempt, the Courts get blase as hell and everything gets watered down. The biggest problem with your plan is keeping the Judicary focused and implementing the will of society ( ha ha, like they have ever done that) but you will see my point.

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  42. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    Agree with you reid; you can’t legislate against the desire to have a good time. You can control the worst effects with sensible measures though.

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  43. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Milkenmild

    The nth degree of your point ………………I rather think that increased drug use has forced softer punishments, rather than softer punishments encouraging more drug use. ………

    is , if enough of us smack our wives about it becomes more “acceptable ”

    Why should a more liberal approach be accepeted by society?

    Now I have my views on cannabis and they are fairly liberal, but I accept you can’t legalize that in anyway without becoming soft on other substances, so I accept that we have to keep it all on the statute books .

    My personal belief that those that want liberalization of drugs laws are the people who want to have a smoke tonight watching a movie and not feel guilty about it… so to assauge this guilt they are condeming the weaker members of our society to collateral damage.

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  44. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    Rex, I suppose the problem is that this girl didn’t get caught for drug use. Minor fraud, theft and possesion of stolen property were her main issues. It was obvious what her problem was, and that was the main thing we tried to address, but she just didn’t see the need for it. And she continually gave us the run around, lawyers, judges, probation officers (for supervision) and the like. She was scared of prison, mind, and didn’t want to go, but couldn’t stop her manipulative ways. Got far too many chances (some of them after my plea in mitigation), probably too many, when prison probably may have woken her up. I don’t know, I lost track of her (they often change counsel if they think you are ‘on’ to them!).

    But would the ‘short, sharp shock’ approach have worked with her? Possibly not, because by the time she was hooked she was used to hanging around hardened drug users. Would it have worked, on the other hand, if she was a uni student caught with a joint? Or a businessman caught buying a tinnie from a bloke at the pub? Or perhaps if a dozen or so people were arrested and imprisoned after a night club bust? I think it would have.

    It is those who do not hang around with regular criminals that will be terrified of prison, but those same people are more than happy to pay the crims $20 for a tinnie when it suits them, or whatever the going rate is for an ‘E’ at the time (depends on the centre). Bin them, and see your market dry up. So long as end users enjoy impunity, there will be a ready market for drug dealers to access. Gaol one, and another steps in to fill the void. Gaol the end user, and suddenly the market starts to look shaky!

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  45. Rex Widerstrom (5,274 comments) says:

    reid asks:

    Rex who are you getting at here?

    Liquor barons. While other mind-altering and dangerous substances remain on the black market, they can charge what they like for their mind altering and dangerous substances.

    Law enforcement, who get vast resources to fight the “war” they wouldn’t otherwise get. The entire DEA would be disbanded, for one thing.

    And big pharma. I’ve no idea if “medical marijuana” helps those suffering cancer etc. When I see elderly people who hardly look like stoner slackers saying that it does, I’m inclined to believe it. But while some mind-altering, pain-suppressing substances are illegal, those who make the legal ones stand to profit.

    if you can be bothered, research ibogaine. It’s a plant-based hallucinogen that’s been used to successfully treat opiate addiction: 24 hours after a single dose, something like 89% of addicts are cured. But of course they go on a “trip” for part of that time – cue disapproval from the pursed-lip brigade (even though the hallucinations would take place in the controlled and secure environment of a clinic).

    But most of all, cue objection from big pharma – the drug is out of patent so no one could make a huge profit selling it, and thus no one will invest the money needed in getting FDA approval. Instead they’ll continue to push poison like methadone… the worst, most addictive substance I’ve ever seen anyone on, and that includes “P”.

    Medical researchers are reporting promising results with a derivative without the hallucinogeic effects (though I still can’t see what’s the big deal about one “trip” to cure a lifetine’s addiction) but commercial production is still unlikely.

    There’s a doco on ibogaine on YouTube but it’s 16 parts x 9 minutes a part.

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  46. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    “District Court plea bargin, one in the pokey for 9 months, discharge for the wife.”

    Oh, how familiar is that!!! I often get annoyed at such deals, even as I broker them!!!! Why should the woman get off just because the man is willing to take the rap? They should be glad I am not a Crown prosecutor!!!

    “My point being, familarity breeds contempt, the Courts get blase as hell and everything gets watered down”

    Agree wholeheartedly.

    “The biggest problem with your plan is keeping the Judicary focused and implementing the will of society”

    Hence my breaking my opposition to mandatory sentences for this one type of offence. Any other sort and I will oppose them as being bad for justice, but when it comes to this, go for it.

    Edit: Oh, but I disagree with you about cannabis- I think it is every bit as insidious as the so called ‘hard’ drugs. Just in different ways.

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  47. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    Rex (yes, got it right this time),

    agree with you re the liqour barons. But that is a far more problematic genie, due to the extent of the use of alcohol.

    However, if my idea was implemented you wouldn’t need an agency like the DEA (not that NZ has one). All enforcement remains a police issue.

    “I’ve no idea if “medical marijuana” helps those suffering cancer etc”

    THC extracted from cannabis has been used for years as an anti-nausea drug (I think). But the pro-medicinal marijana people are only interested if it can be taken in via a cigarette.

    Incidentally, mikenmild, smoking cannabis is far worse than smoking cigarettes purely from a health perspective! Far worse.

    That ibogaine sounds good- let’s put it to use!

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  48. goonix (140 comments) says:

    I walked down to the off-license just after midnight on a weekend a few weeks back. Couldn’t buy beer/cider, as I was a few minutes late for their licensing. On my way in and out of the off-license I was offered coke and mdma.

    Something is not right with current policy…

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  49. Ender (105 comments) says:

    FES the fact that you defend tobacco more than a little makes it hard to accept your view on drugs as a balanced one.

    The damage you speak of (I have seen it too; mostly P users) is the net effect of a prohibitionist regime that ignores the ever-existant demand and refuses to provide support and treatment for users. Total prohibition didn’t work for alcohol, it wouldn’t work for tobacco and it quite clearly doesn’t work for drugs.

    I am only 21 and all I want is my generation to be able to have an honest open discussion about a better way of doing things.

    P.S. Try forcing an ‘all possessors of drugs are imprisoned’ law on the public and see how far you get. Even non-users wouldn’t be comfortable with that at all

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  50. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    It would be really interesting if there were some way of quantifying drug users.
    How many are, as FE Smith refers to, the businessman or uni student who thinks it’s a bit of a laugh, or a rebellious rite-of-passage thing?
    Compared to how many are from socially awful backgrounds – using because they see their lives as miserable.

    I’m not suggesting an official two-tier justice system for the middle class/underclass. But one size doesn’t fit all (jail a user and if they’ve nothing good to come out to, they’ll soon slip back into using). So it needs multiple approaches.

    What about secure (compulsory) rehab centres, rather than general prisons?

    Jailing drug dealers does just leave a void others are quick to fill. Often with a turf war.

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  51. Ender (105 comments) says:

    Perhaps people forget to realise this:

    Practically every person on Kiwiblog would know where to go/who to ask if they wanted to buy illegal drugs. Not only are they available; they’re available easily and without much chance for the end user of being caught.

    Yet, a massive majority of people DON’T seek out and buy illegal drugs. Because they know better. That is the key: Education.

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  52. GazzaW (30 comments) says:

    ‘In any event, alcohol and tobacco are by a long way the most harmful substances in society’

    Mike, do you think that might just be because both of those substances are not only legal but that scant regard is paid by the authorities to the regulations relating to the sale of those substances.

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  53. Matt (223 comments) says:

    I would like to bring up the Portugeuse experience with drugs – here is a surprisingly liberal article from Fox.

    and here is an article from Time

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  54. Rex Widerstrom (5,274 comments) says:

    Ender suggests:

    a massive majority of people DON’T seek out and buy illegal drugs. Because they know better.

    That explains those of us who would otherwise fall into FE Smith’s “casual recreational user” paradigm. But for the majority of users (and totality of those for whom drugs lead to crime), it isn’t a choice they’re able to make without facing debilitating withdrawals – i.e. it has become a need rather than a want.

    I agree a spot of prison might deter the buyer who thiks it’s “cool” to snort a few lines after work on a Friday. But s/he’s not out later stealing your car or burgling your house, either. Better, though, to dress that type of tool up in a nice orange jumpsuit and have him collect trash by the highway on weekends. The “coolness” factor would abate somewhat rapidly, I expect.

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  55. Ender (105 comments) says:

    An excerpt:

    Here’s what happened between 2000 and 2008 after Portugal abolished punitive justice for drugs:

    — There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users such as drug addicts and prisoners.
    — Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.
    — Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2008 that number fell to 28 percent.
    — The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine — figures that show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.
    — The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/12/26/portugals-drug-policy-pays-eyes-lessons/#ixzz1OxbEk0zk

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  56. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    Ender,

    “the fact that you defend tobacco more than a little makes it hard to accept your view on drugs as a balanced one.”

    Why? I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I can also say that I have never partaken in illegal drug use. What I do know is that, while tobacco is both addictive, obnoxious and carcinogenic, it is not mind altering. You never saw a person wired up from smoking cigarettes go and rape someone, something an ex-client of mine once did on P. You never saw constant cigarette smoking turn a person into a listless no-hoper. Even the act of smoking a cannabis joint will give you most of the carcinogens that a tobacco cigarette, and that in greater quantaties. THC stays in the body for days after it is smoked. The drug has been linked to triggering latent schizophrenia and neutralises anti-psychotic drugs.

    I am not defending tobacco at all (re-read what I wrote) but if you have the choice between Franco and Stalin, I know who I would choose.

    I would be interested in your reasons why my view would mean that my views on the subject are unbalanced?

    Rex,

    I agree with your point re persons addicted to the strong stuff. Which is why I would be happy to see imprisonment converted to compulsory residential rehab for any person diagnosed as a drug addict. But I think that the number of casual users actually exceeds the number of junkies quite significantly, hence my view. I am happy to be corrected, though.

    Matt & Ender,

    re Portugal, first you can discount the reduction in Court appearances. That is an obvious consequence of the decision to liberalise and does not show that the decision was a success. The HIV drop is interesting, but needle exchanges can help somewhat with that. The number of users is incredibly low, much lower than I understand NZs usage to be, surely. Interestingly, the number of thos treated rose significantly- this could also be a consequence of greater drug use, not just a greater tolerance.

    However, on the other side, look at Alaska, which had a very tolerant personal cannabis possession policy (up to 4 ounces) from 1975 to 1990, but in that year Alaskans voted to remove the policy and criminalise possession. During the 15 years of the policy, Crime, welfare dependency and health problems all increased. The use among teenagers rose by triple that of the US average.

    If you liberalise drug laws, you will liberalise drug use. That stands to reason.

    But, to show my point, Sweden has a zero tolerance policy and, I understand, the public have a relative intolerance of drug use. Consequently, illicit drug use in that country is pretty much the lowest in Europe.

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  57. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    “a massive majority of people DON’T seek out and buy illegal drugs. Because they know better.”

    Ender, do you think this would change if drugs were decriminalised? Or are you suggesting that people don’t seek out and buy illegal drugs regardless of the legal status of the drug?

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  58. DJP6-25 (1,272 comments) says:

    Ender 10:06 pm. Thanks for that post. It confirms my opinion on what would happen in NZ if drugs were decriminalised.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  59. Ryan Sproull (7,033 comments) says:

    No adult human being has the right to tell any other adult human being how to live, so long as he or she is not directly harming anyone else.

    No two adult human beings have the right to tell any other adult human being how to live, so long as he or she is not directly harming anyone else.

    No three adult human beings have the right to tell any other adult human being how to live, so long as he or she is not directly harming anyone else.

    No four adult human beings have the right to tell any other adult human being how to live, so long as he or she is not directly harming anyone else.

    Stop me when I hit the number when you think that a group of people suddenly have the right to tell someone how to live.

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  60. Matt (223 comments) says:

    “If you liberalise drug laws, you will liberalise drug use. That stands to reason.”

    Can I refer you to another part of the Fox article:

    “Whether the alternative approaches work seems to depend on how they are carried out. In the Netherlands, where police ignore the peaceful consumption of illegal drugs, drug use and dealing are rising, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Five Dutch cities are implementing new restrictions on marijuana cafes after a wave of drug-related gang violence.

    However, in Switzerland, where addicts are supervised as they inject heroin, addiction has steadily declined. No one has died from an overdose there since the program began in 1994, according to medical studies. The program is also credited with reducing crime and improving addicts’ health.”

    Read the whole thing; I think you’ll find it enlightening

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  61. wat dabney (3,672 comments) says:

    Of course drugs should be legalised, and that necessarily extends to medication.

    Watch the rent-seeking doctors squeal as their monopoly on prescription is taken away.

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  62. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    Seems to me that a consensus is building through informed debate. Although some countries, like Switzerland and Portugal, seem to have had success with liberalisation, wider reform looks to be some way off. The main stumbling block internationally will be the United States. The punitive approach there, and the US-financed wars on drugs in central and south America have strong political backing. It would be difficult to any country to implement full liberalisation by itself in the face of US-led international hostility.

    Probably the best we can do her is some progress towards decriminalisation and harm-minimisation policies.

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  63. Ed Snack (1,738 comments) says:

    Ryan, a purist point of view but not one that stands up IMHO. Taxation for example ? And drug abusers do impact others, a full on stoner (and I’ve known a couple) will never work, do you approve leaving them to fend for themselves, no welfare ? because, if they do take welfare that affects others; and if the won’t work (and, at least in the cases I know it was pretty much voluntary) how else but either charity or criminality will they support themselves without welfare ?

    And I’d make a point about comparing alcohol to almost any other “drug”. Alcohol, possibly because of its long co-existence with humans is socialised to a degree that others aren’t. It is possible (and I claim to) drink and enjoy alcohol without any regard for any psycho-active affects it may have. That is, one can drink and not get drunk, very many people (I know it may be a surprise to some) do just that; moderate drinking, 1 – 2 glasses of wine, a couple of beers say. Now I’m no longer at all involved with any other drug abusing groups, but “back then”, the sole object of taking any other drug (cigarettes excepted) was to achieve a state of “altered conciousness”, or in some cases a more less complete loss of consciousness, after a period of enjoyment. You take all other drugs for their impact upon your behaviour and mood to an often unacceptable degree.

    Now you certainly can take alcohol for exactly the same reasons, mood alteration etc, but it isn’t necessary to have that in mind to drink moderately. You don’t, I assert, take other drugs for any reason other than to undergo some changes.

    On rehabilitation, it has been said, some facilely I’m sure, that rehabilitation is very simple as long as the person really wants to rehabilitate. What do you do with those (like FES’s example above) with those who genuinely DON’T want to rehabilitate. No reasonable carrot or stick works, is there a medical approach, do you lock them away ? The same is true of criminal behaviour, some crims genuinely like and enjoy what they do, why the hell they reckon, should I change. Get used to it.

    Is this behaviour, drug taking or criminality, a lack of some form of faith or belief in our society ? Is it a weakening by either the greed shibboleths as used by the left, or the caustic impact of “no-fault” welfare as pushed by others ? Or simply a size thing, big anonymous societies breed a form of alienation that affects some people more than others ? Can we solve the problems of a world merely by dicking with the fringes of things like drug policy ?

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  64. kiwi in america (2,437 comments) says:

    It comes as no surprise to find George Soros involved with this ‘Commission’. Soros is an agressive believer in the liberalisation of all drugs including heroin and P and has funded dozens of drug liberalization groups the world over with tens of millions of dollars – each entity with the same end in mind, the liberalization of drug laws.

    Liberalisation current picture children are Portugal and Switzerland and their experiences have been amply cited on this thread. Few however mention the real Dutch experience or the Swedish experience.

    • Youth cannabis use had been steadily declining until the mid- 1970’s in the Netherlands.
    • The Dutch parliament’s decision to decriminalisation cannabis in 1976 gradually led to a de facto legalisation as the police and courts interpreted the law liberally. Lifetime cannabis use of Dutch 18 to 20 year-olds increased from 15% in 1984 to 44% in 1996 and past-month use for the same age group increased from 8.5% to 18.5% , a 30% increase in the number of Dutch marijuana addicts from 1991 to 1993 alone.
    • 15 studies comparing Dutch youth cannabis use with other countries that prohibit use ALL showed that levels of use in Holland were higher.
    • There has been an explosion in the number of Dutch coffee shops selling cannabis. This has led to Holland being sought out as a travel destination by drug tourists and, even though the sale of hard drugs is illegal, undercover police from France report that their officers had no difficultly in ever obtaining hard drugs from Dutch coffee shops. The Dutch public and Parliament have reacted to this trend and have introduced ever more stringent restrictions on the coffee shops.
    • Increasing youth cannabis use has led to a large increase in youth crime police saying most of it drug-related and skyrocketing burglary rates.
    • Holland has become the world capital of synthetic/designer drugs – even according to their own law enforcement agencies . British Police and Customs estimate that almost all synthetic drugs seized in Britain originate from Holland or Belgium. 98% of amphetamines and 74% of ecstasy tablets seized in France came from Holland. A senior Dutch police officer admitted to former US drug policy czar Barry McCaffrey that “Holland is to synthetic drugs what Columbia is to cocaine”. Almost all designer drugs imported into NZ originally came from Holland.
    • Holland has become the largest European transhipping location for heroin. UK Customs and Excise report 80% of heroin seized in UK is passed through or warehoused in Holland. 80% of heroin consumed in Paris comes from Holland according to a 1998 report from the French Central Office for the Repression of the Illegal Traffic in Drugs.
    • Despite the stated philosophy behind the relaxation of soft drug laws being an attempt to sever any connection between cannabis use and harder drug use, there has been large increase in Dutch heroin use. Even if you use the Dutch Government agency (Trimbos) official figures of heroin users (which only count heroin users who receive a benefit because of their drug dependency or those who have come into contact with the justice system) there are three times the number of heroin users in Holland since cannabis was decriminalised. The real increase is higher due to Trimbos’ under-reporting of users.
    • Holland pioneered the hydroponic growing of cannabis with control of heat, light and moisture (called Nederwiet). The resulting more potent strain of cannabis, according to Dutch treatment centres, is leading to higher levels of cannabis dependency.
    • Dutch Government officials are in denial over the failure of their drugs policy. Jelle Kuiper (Amsterdam Police Commissioner) and Dr Ernest Bunning (a Ministry of Health official) both talk about the denial of Dutch government officials and their not wanting to admit their policy failure.
    • A recent Telepanel poll found 75% of Dutch people want tougher drug laws and 50% want cannabis recriminalised.

    Sweden’s experience is always ignored by drug liberalisation proponents for obvious reasons. Sweden prohibits the use of cannabis but has backed up prohibition with other measures and intelligent laws that have resulted in dramatic reductions in cannabis and other drug use. Sweden is a fascinating case study of liberal and prohibiting drug laws. In the early 1960’s, Swedish legislators unleashed a raft of unprecedented liberal laws governing homosexuality, abortion, pornography, and extension of the welfare state to true ‘cradle to grave’ protection and decriminalisation of the use of cannabis before the Dutch did.

    By 1984 the Swedish government recriminalised cannabis after an alarming increase in youth drug use and it tightened its drug laws again in 1993 until it now has some of the strictest drug laws in the Western world. Sweden’s drug laws and their implementation are characterised by:
    • Pioneering what has become loosely defined as the ‘coercive care’ model. Swedish authorities are focussed more on treatment than incarceration and seek to use the power of the State and its prohibiting drug laws to compel drug users into taxpayer funded treatment. The rationale is to find proven ways to stop drug users from using rather than just prosecuting and imprisoning them for their using;
    • Making no legal distinction between soft and hard drugs (unlike NZ which has Class A, B and C drug classifications);
    • Swedish police and social service agencies work closely together identifying drug-using youth and both groups are focussed on treatment/counselling for drug use rather than criminal prosecution.
    • Swedish laws allow the police to drug test on mere suspicion of use and the threat of criminal charges is used to coerce a non-drug using outcome if the suspect tests positive for drugs. Swedish police have remarkable discretion given to drug officers at the coalface to arrest or test for drugs.
    • The results as detailed in the United Nations World Drug Report:
    Lifetime drug use of Swedish 15 to 29 year olds is a paltry 8%
    Use of any drugs in last year for the same age cohort is a staggering 2%
    • ESPAD Report into Alcohol and Drug Use of high school aged children in 30 European Countries sees last month cannabis use in Sweden at only 2% compared to 14% in Holland (lifetime use 8% versus 28%)
    • Opinion polls in Sweden put public support for their drug laws at 85%.

    The Swedish laws and their intelligent implementation have resulted in, over time, the lowest levels of drug use in the developed world. This Commission has studiously ignored the Swedish model for obvious reasons and in fact Soros funded insitutions the world over find obscure pro-drug Swedish academics that they widely quote from to try and pour scorn on the Swedish model but there is no denying that it has worked where many attempts at controlling drug use in other countries have failed.

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  65. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    Fascinating information, KIA. Interesting especially that Portugal is cited when the cannabis use there prior to decriminalisation was so much less than NZs level of use (about 3% vs about 40%).

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  66. kiwi in america (2,437 comments) says:

    F E Smith
    The latest ESPAD report re Portugal tells a clearer picture and the trend is similar to the one in the Netherlands. This is by far the most accurate and statistically significant study of adolescent drug/alcohol use/abuse done in Europe. Lifetime and last 30 day use of cannabis (2 bellweather stats) show an almost doubling of 15-25 year old use in Portugal from 1995 to 2003 and a slight leveling off in 2007 so the picture the drug liberalisers try to paint of Portugal as being benignly affected by their liberalisation is about as accurate as the same portrayals of Holland.

    Youth use of cannabis in Holland as tracked by ESPAD is high and increased slightly again 2003 to 2007. Dutch youth cannabis use has clearly dramatically increased since their depenalisation (and defacto legalisation) in 1976.

    Lifetime and last 30 day youth use of cannabis in Switzerland is also high and climbing so another FAIL for the liberalisers.

    I invite kiwiblog readers to read the report – the full pdf is downloadable at
    http://www.espad.org/documents/Espad/ESPAD_reports/2007/The_2007_ESPAD_Report-FULL_091006.pdf

    It pays to use real statistics from reputable and well regarded studies in this debate not conjecture, ideology and definitely nothing from Soros funded organisations!

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  67. blazeoflight (10 comments) says:

    There are two aspects to the so-called War on Drugs – one is the internal enforcement policies a country may wish to persue, the other is external, military action with which the US is so enchanted.

    Internal action is a country’s own business. Zero tolerance is well and good, preferable, even, especailly for drink-driving, so long as a country can afford to implement it. KIA is concerned about cannabis use, but, really, at what stage do we stop nannying people into a sober life against their will? I understand the slippery slope argument, aka cannabis use leads to “P” use is popular here, but it is a fallacy, after all. We are big boys and we can dig our toes in somewhere along the line. It boil downs to an economic decision.

    External military action is another matter. To use the excuse of one’s own people indulging in pleasures one arbitrarily deems illegal to bomb poor people simply taking the most rational economic decison in a globalised, free market economy, is not only a reprehensible imposition on the sympton rather than the cause, but also smacks of an intention to continue to use examples of military power to enforce hegemony.

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  68. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    Blaze, I don’t read KIA simply being concerned about cannabis use. Moreover, I don’t recall any of us arguing the slippery slope argument here- I for one don’t accept it. Cannabis is just as bad as what we call hard drugs, just in different ways. In some ways it is worse.

    I for one have no desire to nanny people into being sober against their will, so long as they use alcohol to get intoxicated. Drugs often have a far greater effect on people, their families and society, as well as often having far more long term effects than alcohol.

    And your last paragraph just makes no sense at all. Afghan farmers growing poppies was not the reason the US invaded that country! Or have I missed something here? Is there another country that where poor people are being bombed because they are taking a ‘rational economic decision?

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  69. kiwi in america (2,437 comments) says:

    Blaze
    Its really about the priorities countries set for themselves. There are a range of ways countries deal with drugs. Drug dealing has destroyed the fabric of Mexican society. It almost detroyed Columbia but for some years (until recently) the Columbian government saw the damage the cocaine cartels were doing to their country and they deemed it a priority to act to protect innocent civilians caught up in the slaughter and with some considerable success at least for a period of time.

    I met with senior Swedish government officials on a visit there about 10 years ago and they told me they have a society wide accepted goal of a drug free society and so there is a vast majority of their people who buy in to these policies largely because Swedes see that has been so succesful.

    Lets have a debate on what is or isn’t too intrusive but lets dispense with some cannards that drug liberalisers accept as fact when they are not. Firstly that there is nothing that can be done about drug use and we should just opt for a harm minimisation approach (essentially the consensus that has emerged in NZ). Sweden has shown us how a high and tolerant drug using society can move over 20 years to a society with minimal drug use – it can be done its just whether a society accepts the goal and is prepared to spend the money and pass and enforce the laws to get there.

    Second – that legalising drugs will take away the criminal element. It wont and never has. In Holland drug cartels simply move form an illegal trade to a legal trade. Yes leagalisation takes away some of the super profits but that just makes the entry price lower and we know that in the case of harder drugs that the high entry price is a barrier to entry for the youngest recruits (15 – 25 year olds) and they are the vulnerable that society seeks to protect.

    Thirdly – there is ample evidence, if you look to the large reputable studies done over many decades on this subject, that more liberal laws lead to higher levels of drug usage specially by the young. The gateway effect of cananabis to harder drugs is strongly proven in the results of the Christchurch Health and Development longitudinal study so that is another falsehood perpetrated by those who claim that cannabis is so benign.

    Its all about priority. When our Trust brought Swedish reformers to NZ one of them who had been at the forefront of Sweden’s drug reforms and was old enough to remember what Sweden was like in the 60′ s and 70′s said that NZ (in 2002 when he came) felt just like Sweden did back in their high drug use days. In his faltering English he used the term epidemic. Sweden made a society wide decision to do something about it with considerable success. NZ lives with the consequences of its relative tolerance to drugs – right now the price to pay for doing what Sweden did is too high. I get that. We are a democracy but lets have an informed debate about the subject and not allow George Soros’ millions spent on drug policy ‘think tanks’ like this Global Drugs Commission that favour liberalisation to capture the debate.

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  70. redeye (631 comments) says:

    for one have no desire to nanny people into being sober against their will, so long as they use alcohol to get intoxicated. Drugs often have a far greater effect on people, their families and society, as well as often having far more long term effects than alcohol.

    This thread is so far down the list that I doubt anyone will read this but it still must be said, that sentence has to be the biggest load of bullshit written on this site.

    Alcohol is responsible for 1 in every 25 deaths world wide.

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