A guest post by William Reid:
It is increasingly obvious that the prohibition of what legal highs attempt to replicate is shortsighted. People will continue to do whatever it is that they choose to do, which in this case is experimenting with a plant that has grown naturally for thousands of years. Whether or not this plant is illegal is irrelevant to them.
As it stands, the prohibition delivers three hits to New Zealand. The first is the cost of fighting violent cartels and this cost will only increase. This is a ‘war’ that will not end, so would it not be a better state of affairs if New Zealanders did not break the law and fund violent cartels every time they indulged?
The second hit is the lost revenue because of non-taxation. Instead of giving violent cartels an enormous revenue stream, why does the government not collect tax on the product so as to pay for its detrimental effects? A similar state of affairs exists with both alcohol and cigarettes, both of which would be illegal if judged by the same criteria as marijuana. There would be boosted revenues for the government in G.S.T, income tax and company tax, aside from the thousands of jobs that would be created for those in the industry.
The third hit is the lost entrepreneurial nous from a vast array of pragmatic, cunning and intelligent businesspeople. Skeptics please bear with me, but, from an objective standpoint, they run highly organized businesses that must continuously adapt to a rapidly changing and highly competitive business environment. Three regions in particular would benefit from these businesses becoming legitimate, Northland, Hawkes Bay and the West Coast of the South Island.
Decriminalisation would prevent ordinary, otherwise-law-abiding citizens from consuming public resources. The next step to legalisation would prevent violent cartels, with no respect for any laws, from controlling an enormous market that is currently off the books and has the potential to provide an economic boost to the regions of New Zealand.
None of these arguments are original and many may dismiss them, but these are discussions that are required. It is apparent to even those who do not partake in recreational inhalation that the current laws are in need of revision.
People will continue to put anything they can find into their body, managing a problem by treating the causes is far better than reacting to the symptoms.
I think the results of what happens in Colorado and Washington states, which have legalised, will be influential. If those states do not have an increase in drug consumption and drug related harm, then other states and eventually countries will follow suit.