So I think something got slipped in the water this week. Everyone’s gone mental.
Firstly Maurice Williamson answered the mystery as to how the Nat’s are planning on paying for all these roads, with magic! Cause, like, you know, motorists pay all this money into roading and it all mysteriously vanishes. Never mind the fact that we actually spend heaps more on roading than is contributed by road user charges and petrol tax. Pah, facts schmacts!
Mrs Turner described it as “a pathetic response that looks to weasel out of recent damning studies of cannabis and its links to psychosis in young users”.
“Suggesting legalising cannabis only for those over 18 means one thing – those under 18 will continue to source their cannabis where they get it today – the gang-lead black market and the local tinny houses.”
What she conveniently ignores is that this will refocus police resources. If adults can legally acquire their own cannabis (within limits), the only people wanting to go anywhere near a tinny house will be young people but the risk for tinny house operators will be so much higher and the demand so much lower. So why would they bother? What she also conveniently ignores is that the Greens advocate removing the criminality aspect of cannabis (like United Future did in their submission to the Health Select Committee Inquiry into Cannabis) so that resources can be targetted towards large scale distributers (eg gangs) and also towards drug education and treatment.
For Judy’s benefit I have posted the relevant bit from the Green policy below:
Cannabis specific initiatives
* Eliminate penalties for personal cannabis use for people aged 18 years and over.
* Introduce a legal age limit of 18 years for personal cannabis use (this is consistent with alcohol). Those under 18 found in possession of cannabis would be treated in a way consistent with the Government’s 2002 Youth Development Strategy.
* Define in law the limits on growing cannabis for personal use.
* Ensure it remains an offence to drive while under the influence of cannabis.
* Ensure that cannabis smoking is covered in the Smokefree Environments Act.
* Commercial cultivation and trading of marijuana for profit would remain illegal, and areas currently relying on large scale illegal cultivation for their income will be assisted in making a transition to other work.
Then she talks about psychosis (*sigh*). According to the Minister in the House today (and his facts are accurate)
the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit study, … shows that 8 percent of teens who use cannabis may develop a psychosis, such as schizophrenia, as a result of that use. Amongst those carrying a cannabis-vulnerable gene, the rate of psychosis is as high as 15 percent.
(emphasis my own)
Her questions were responded to with this question from the Greens:
Nandor Tanczos: Has the Minister heard the statement made today by the lead researcher in the study he quoted, Associate Professor Richie Poulton, that the key implication of the study for politicians is how to delay the onset of cannabis use by young people, and that in his view the fact that cannabis use is a criminal act does not appear to deter its use by young people; who will he listen to: Judy Turner, or one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The person concerned, who has done a lot of work on this, most certainly has made the point that cannabis is more dangerous in some situations than others, and he points to the young, because of the effect on them; to those with a mental illness; and, as the Canterbury longitudinal study also points out, to those who are heavy users of the drug. Clearly, those are the people most vulnerable. My concern is that if we were to legalise the drug as the member wishes, it would not lead to a reduction in the use of drugs; it would undoubtedly bring down the price, because it would be legal and it is easy to cultivate, and that would lead to more people using the drug. That is a problem we simply do not need in this country.
Nandor Tanczos: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am sure the Minister did not deliberately mislead the House, but the Green Party policy is not to legalise cannabis; it is simply to remove criminal sanctions.
I have to say this is progress on the part of United Future. They have moved on from the ‘drugs are bad mmmkay’ argument to ‘drug use causes harm’ argument. But what I want to know is when the United Future party will start actively campaigning to deal with alcohol use in this country. I’m sure you’ve all heard this before but alcohol kills people, lots of people every year and is costing our country millions in health costs. It’s really fucking dangerous. Is United Future going to advocate the prohibition of alcohol? (Try searching alcohol on their website). No cause that would be DUMB. They know it and we all know it. It would not solve the problem, in fact, it would make it worse. Nice to see that the United Future Party is again going for the ‘vote for us cause we’re ‘normal’ and ‘straight’ and ‘sensible” approach again. Pity they can’t argue policy to save themselves.
Oh and before I change topic the Minister said this today: Hon PHIL GOFF: As I indicated before, I think that decriminalisation of the drug would lead to its greater availability and heavier use. Why Phil? Where’s your evidence. That has not proved to be the case anywhere in the world that has liberalised their cannabis laws, ever. Why would we be different?
And then, we get the Minister of Education trying to tell us that students are ungrateful bastards for not appreciating all the wonderful things Labour have done for them this term. *cough*bollocks*cough*
He said in reply to this patsy:
Lynne Pillay: Why are student allowance applications fewer than were forecast?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: There is a variety of reasons why students have not applied for allowances in the numbers that we expected, including a decline in enrolments because, among other things, students are staying at school longer. The National Certificate of Educational Achievement literacy and numeracy requirements mean that university students now need to be able to read and count. Record low unemployment has made it attractive for some students to go directly into the workforce, rather than to undertake study. There is a move towards more students studying part-time, rather than full-time. More students are finding that they can earn much more through part-time work than by taking an allowance. Parents’ incomes have increased more than expected, driven by wage increases, and a drop in unemployment—for example, amongst 45 to 49-year-olds, a major parent group for university students, where unemployment fell from 2.1 to 1.2 percent. There are a number of other reasons, including people being involved in industry training organisations. Part of the problem with this issue is that it is just all good news.
Oh bloody hell, what!?!
And that explains a drop in applications by 22,000? Nah got nothing to do with getting rid of the ICA. Got nothing to do with the fact that students who were eligible for $100 a week and are now eligible for $10 a week are chosing not waste their 200 weeks of entitlement on that?
The biggest bullshit is that he said 36,000 more students would be eligible in March knowing in February that the numbers were plummeting.
Then he had the gall to respond to being questioned about why the Government only made a statement about this information when a student journalist went digging by saying: “We gave them the information to write the article.” Sure, it was on the website, it was found by someone who looked and who was in a position to ask questions. So how come they didn’t announce an even bigger increase in March when they knew the figures and knew they had spare cash? And it doesn’t explain why they deliberately misled students last month by telling them that more students were getting allowances (not eligible for) allowances.
The best bit of that interchange though (cause I had the pleasure of being there) was watching Cullen’s ordinarily quite pinkish face go a whole new shade of worried pink when Nandor attempted to table the invoice from NZUSA for $56 million bucks on behalf of the 22,000 students that missed out of allowances. Needless to say, Cullen was the first to object to it being tabled. I think he was impressed by that tactic!
Finally, I must point out a factual error. Russell Brown has an article about it and talks about Mallard referring to Nandor crying. Sorry Russell, he wasn’t referring to Nandor, he was referring to Bill English. But undertandable mistake, transcripts aren’t always the best at portraying what actually goes on in there. Especially those members that insist on using sarcasm…
Anyway, that’s my pent up rant for the day.