The Press on Cannabis

The editorial last week from The Press:

The careful and considered suggestion by the leader of the party that it is time to re-examine the legislation making possession of a criminal offence should be taken seriously.

Coming from most other advocates for liberalisation of the law on cannabis it could be dismissed as the partisan advocacy of raddled old dope-heads.

But coming from Brash, a former governor of the Reserve Bank and the epitome of a buttoned-up, middle-class, white-bread Pakeha, as a sober proposal, modestly put forward for discussion, it is not so easily dismissed.

If it is given the serious consideration it deserves, it will be found that Brash’s arguments for decriminalisation of cannabis use, which he supports, or even closely limited legalisation are compelling.

Although some have greeted the proposal as somehow radical, and have tried to beat up strife between him and the ACT party candidate for Epsom, John Banks, who is resolutely opposed to any relaxation of the law, Brash’s idea is increasingly part of mainstream debate about policing of drug use.

On this, it is Banks, not Brash, who is the dinosaur. As Brash noted, just a couple of months ago the Global Commission on Drug Policy declared the war on drugs a failure and recommended that governments should, among other things, explore legalising marijuana. That commission includes such pillars of rectitude as a former United States secretary of state, George Schultz (who has long been an advocate of liberalising the law in the US) and a former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker. …

It is time, though, to recognise that trying to prohibit it entirely is a massive waste of money and effort for no good purpose and, as Brash says, to have a sensible discussion about what should be done about it.

Again I agree.

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