Don Brash on Pot | The Jackal

27 Sep 2011

Don Brash on Pot

In a speech given on law and order held in Auckland last weekend, Don Brash came out in support of decriminalizing marijuana.

It seems strange that he's promoting decriminalization... and it appears to me that his controversial statements are designed to gain media attention.

Being in the mainstream media equates to votes, and it doesn't seem to matter much what is being debated.

Perhaps that's why Labour is rating poorly in recent polling... the MSM doesn't give them much airtime. Anyway here's what Don Brash said:
So should making sure that the laws the police are enforcing are in fact keeping us safe from criminals.

Laws that do not serve that purpose, and indeed possibly make us more vulnerable to criminals, should not be on the statute books to begin with.

In that respect I have to say, after long and painstaking reflection, I have come to have serious questions about our current marijuana laws.

Since 1927, it's been a criminal offence to possess, use, produce or sell cannabis in New Zealand.

The police and the courts spend some $100 million of taxpayer money a year enforcing this prohibition of a drug believed by many people to be less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol. Is there really any point to this?

Some 6000 people are prosecuted every year for cannabis offences. Are we any safer for this?

It is believed that some 400,000 New Zealanders are cannabis users. In other words, some 400,000 New Zealanders routinely flout the law - roughly 10% of the total population. Has the sky fallen in?

Apparently, a majority of New Zealanders think this law is an ass. The last poll I saw, admittedly not a very scientific one, on stuff.co.nz, had 64% of respondents in favour of decriminalisation. Has the time come to pursue that option?

Just a couple of months ago, the Global Commission on Drug Policy pronounced the international War on Drugs a failure and recommended that governments should explore legalising marijuana and other controlled substances.

The Global Commission's members, I should add, include former UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan, former US Secretary of State George Schultz, former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, former presidents of Brazil, Peru and Colombia, a former Prime Minister of Greece, and businessman Richard Branson. These are hardly dope-addled hippies or wild-eyed radicals. They reported that drug prohibition has had devastating effects on individuals and societies all around the world and said the War on Drugs as we know it should end.

In the United Kingdom, the Liberal Democrats - in coalition with the Conservative Party - favour the decriminalization of all drugs.

In April this year, our own Law Commission, whose President at the time was former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer - again, hardly a dope-addled hippy or wild-eyed radical - recommended allowing cannabis for medicinal use and substituting a cautioning regime for criminal penalties in non-medicinal cases.

I'm haunted by the thought that all that police time and all those police resources could be better deployed in actually keeping us safe from real criminals intent on harming us, instead of making criminals of 400,000 New Zealanders who are harming no one - except, arguably, themselves, which is their prerogative in a free society.

I'm deeply troubled by the fact that the biggest beneficiaries of prohibition are the gangs, just as organised crime was the biggest beneficiary of the ill-fated prohibition of alcohol in the United States.

I'm troubled by all the crime gangs commit in pursuit of their illicit trade, and all the innocent victims caught in the crossfire.

I hasten to add I do not advocate or approve of marijuana use. Unlike Helen Clark and Peter Dunne, I haven't ever tried it and I have absolutely no intention of doing so. But I have to ask myself by what right I would ban someone else from using it, or support a law that does so, especially when I'm leader of the political party in New Zealand that is most committed to personal freedom.

Let me be absolutely clear: I'm not saying it's now ACT policy to decriminalise or legalise marijuana. I'm simply saying it's my personal view that we should give the idea serious consideration as there are some strong arguments in its favour - arguments supported by some seriously sober and responsible national and international leaders.
Apparently Brash made his statements without first consulting with the rest of the beleaguered Act ingrates. President Chris Simmons said decriminalizing the class-C drug wouldn't be the party's policy next year, in 2014 or even 2017.

John Banks, the party's Epsom candidate and a former police minister, said he could not support cannabis decriminalization.
Even John Key jumped on the band wagon by saying marijuana is a "gateway drug" and that it "causes crime".

Has anybody told John Key that the Law Commission thinks marijuana should be decriminalized?

What the Prime Minster fails to understand is that decriminalization of marijuana will reduce gang incomes and reduce the crime associated with the drug trade.

Does anybody know if John Key has even tried the herb? Peter Dunne admits it, Don Brash supports decriminalizing it and 13.4% of those between the ages of 16-64 regularly use it. So what's the big deal?

Being that the stats show far more crime is committed by those inebriated by alcohol, shouldn't John Key be calling for the prohibition of that dangerous substance... if that's his defining criteria for making something illegal?

Most cops turn a blind eye to personal use these days... they usually don't bother locking people up for a victimless crime.

The simple fact of the matter is that New Zealand should use the money saved from decriminalization to educate and increase health expenditure. They are proven ways to reduce drug use... everything else has failed.