Sellman on cannabis and alcohol


The days of prohibition in New Zealand appear to be coming to an end. Peter Dunne is reflecting a change in public attitudes towards cannabis that is gathering momentum.

The brave admissions by Helen Kelly and others about their illegal use of cannabis for medical purposes has helped reignite public discussion about cannabis law in general.

Drugs, including , are here to stay – our job is to get better at managing them as a society. Declaring war is a failed strategy, which needs to be replaced by scientifically based harm-reduction approaches.

I agree with this.

Excessive harm is caused at both ends of the continuum, where big business flourishes, one within the law and the other outside of it. Both share the goal of profit maximisation from supplying and selling as much of their drug as possible.

Sellman is basically comparing alcohol companies to illegal drug gangs.

Behind the scenes, however, alcohol corporates target new young customers, avoid paying tax, schmooze politicians, and attempt to denigrate those who point out their devious tactics.

The organised criminal cannabis suppliers also flagrantly target the young and avoid paying tax, but they don’t try to pretend they are anything but gangsters making money out of drug dealing.

So alcohol corporates are gangsters!

Leaving recreational drugs in the hands of big business, without very strong regulation, is a recipe for harm maximisation.

We do have very strong regulation around alcohol. Almost every aspect of the industry is regulated.

Lobbying of our parliamentarians may already be under way by business leaders salivating at the new fortunes they anticipate reaping. This is especially so since the dramatic changes in the United States where four states now have laws allowing private businesses to supply and sell cannabis.

There are alternatives to a private business model, one of which is the establishment of state-owned enterprises.

Government monopolies of retail sales of alcohol exist in Scandinavia and are documented as a highly effective harm reduction intervention for alcohol .

Sellman wants the state to take over the alcohol industry. Every pub, hotel and bottle store in NZ must be owned by the Government. I can’t think of anything more dreadful.

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