Alcohol vs Marijuana | The Jackal

7 Dec 2011

Alcohol vs Marijuana

The Police reported on Operation Unite yesterday, with Assistant Commissioner Nick Perry saying:

"This year we had over 800 staff on both Friday and Saturday nights engaged in Operation Unite and we had quite a small number of associated arrests, liquor licensing breaches and incidents of violence and that is very encouraging."

What an unfortunate turn of phrase. I've heard of job satisfaction, but saying the increased amount of alcohol related crimes is encouraging is beyond the pale. But seriously, it's sad to see alcohol contributing to so many crimes in New Zealand:

Alcohol related crime is estimated to cost New Zealand NZ$716.5m a year with in excess of NZ$200m spent on policing alone. Approximately half (49.5%) of all homicides recorded between 1999 and 2008 involved either a suspect or victim being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. At least one third of arrests for violence-related offences are committed by a person affected by alcohol. 

Surely the government could work to reduce the harm caused by treating alcohol as a dangerous drug. From young people binge drinking themselves to an early death to fueling violence and drunk driving, the destructive effects of alcohol are by far the most costly to our wallets and society.

Contrast that approximately 1000 alcohol-related deaths each year with the comparatively harmless drug marijuana, which is widely used and hasn't killed a single person.

The cost of locking up over 6000 recreational smokers at around $100,000 per year does nothing to deter marijuana use... while filling our jails with people committing victimless "crimes" is costing us a fortune.

Being that case studies have shown that decriminalization leads to a decline in people smoking marijuana, it's clearly time to focus on policy that actually works.