Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Eeny , meeny minie mo, which one to vote for ? . Friend or Foe?

The election is a mere two months away but the political landscape is constantly changing. Yet there seems to be no mention of an election, No politicking , yet and the only story to create a flutter of interest was Don Brash , leader of ACT speaking out for Legalising Cannabis.
The ALCP are standing this election and I am sure they will need to put up a good fight cos the choice this election is vast.
One thing I have heard , is that 50% of the country is happy with John Key and he and National will win a second term.
I lean Green, especially for the legalising of cannabis and better access for medicinal marijuana under doctors supervision.
The thing that really concerns me is the lack of jobs and the fake "happiness" The PM exudes when there is a real poverty epidemic in New Zealand. I use the word epidemic as it describes the growing health crisis and out breaks of diseases like, meningitis in Northland, Whooping cough in Hokitika, flesh eating out breaks and all clear markers of poverty. These diseases are spread by over crowding and are warning signs that things are in urgent need of attention.
Our latest Auckland Family magazine asked 8 leaders of political Parties "what is the most important issue facing New Zealand families and what do you plan to do about it?

Of all the 8 parties National failed to mention that there were tough economic times ahead and a number of families struggling financially. It should be obvious that if the Prime Minister fails to mention a huge problem facing New Zealand, he certainly does not have a solution to remedy it. His policies only apply to the people that matter. Those with a good income and a positive cashflow.
They can keep on humming a happy tune.
However the other seven all recognise that, "the cost of living is the biggest problem facing families (Hone Harawira,) Mana
Labour and National have progressively eroded public services and sold off state owned enterprises.
I think we all deserve better than this.
Currently National seems to be using the police like a personal Army and the retrospective law changes made should be stopped now. This is an outrageous abuse of powers. In my opinion it started with the Sacking of ECan in Canterbury.
The callous attitude displayed by John Key over the mining disaster and Gerry Brownlee's, insensitivity to Christchurch, and its partiality to it's heritage building will cost it votes. You know , if you can build something once , you can do it twice. Think of the Heathcote Valley Inn.

Taken down carefully I am sure many beautiful buildings can be rebuilt again. Elsewhere... Later. But maintain hope.

Hope is what a Potential Party candidate promises in return for your vote. I think many parties this election promise hope, the solution and the will to change the current economic situation, facing New Zealand.
We are rich in resources , both people and mineral. We sell raw product not refined and we waste instead of re-using and recycling. Development in all these areas and a commitment to sustainability will get my vote. Plus anyone who want to legalise or decriminalise cannabis. At least now there may be some choice.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Brave Brash makes a hash of things.

Fullmarks to Dr Don Brash taking a punt on the cannabis vote. He certainly has done his homework, or been reading his old NORML magazines, as he is faultless in his argument especially the waste of police time spent chasing cannabis users.
He is correct that 400,000 kiwis use cannabis anually. That's the entire population of Christchurch (pre Earthquake) passing a joint . One that lasts from Aranui to Avonhead. Imagine, that every citizen having a toke on a joint. And as Brash correctly states ,the police could be better deployed than people smoking a plant being made criminals.As in the act of cannabis smoking , no one is being harmed but the user.

However the two points that Brash did not consider was how his party would react, especially as Don forgot to have the discussion with fellow ACT Party candidates first.
The second point was,did Don stop to consider how he may end up being portrayed for expressing this eminently sensible view without team support.

It certainly did not escape my attention that a great new party slogan for ACT could be ALCOHOL, CANNABIS & TOBACCO.

His most vocal opponent at this stage seems to be his great white hope for EPSOM former Police Minister John Banks. Totally opposed to decriminalisation. "No to drugs !", kinda man.
Somehow both John Banks and John Key seem to be channelling Nancy Reagan, and just say no. Um Has anyone told either of them that programme failed. Drug use reached epic use in the late 1980s and it was a need to reduce the associated drug harms that a new model was developed. It was called harm reduction or Harm Minimisation. The biggest harm or threat to public health was the spread of blood born virus and fear of HIV, it lead to lots of big public health initiatives. Safe sex and  free condoms and a no sharing needles as well as a needle exchange programme being established were examples.

New Zealand is 12,000 miles away from New York, and cannabis is our favourite non-alcoholic recreational substance. We have one the highest rates of usage in the developed world and the highest rate of arrest for OCED countries. We certainly do not need to continue to punish people for having a preference for cannabis. The war on Drugs is a war on people. When any politician ignores 400,000 potential voters they do so at their peril and when , like John Banks they call cannabis users DUMB, we will see who get the last laugh this election.

Don Brash is no poster boy image for cannabis and that is not a bad thing. He certainly adds little glamour or sexuality to promote cannabis. However 61 year old Dakta Green , currently in jail is no looker either. I wonder would Brash and Dakta Green have a deep conversation about cannabis? Who knows . It would be wonderful if some more medical professionals or any professional came forward to support the logic in Dr Brash argument.

Why hasn't some glamorous celebrity or famous author . artist or poet come  forth to support the call for decriminalisation. After all its about time.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Is there an Election on?

This Government is meant to campaigning for an election. The Green Party are making all the right noises and coming up with ideas and releasing policy. Dr Russell Norman is a great co-leader snappy dresser and quick with a sound bite.
The have a cohesive party , a plan , some billboards out and up in the community and have broad general appeal. I really hope their vote doubles this election. They have worked hard and have earned a far better representation in Parliament. Plus they seem nice.
We know they are nice. They support animal rights and attract a few of our more famous Thespians. We know Metiria is a nice person. In fact she is a star.

The Labour party does not have the same appeal and voters need to learn that with MMP you have two votes and they don't have to be for either Labour or National. Its time we got over the dichotomy of red or blue. We need to see what else is on offer and probe a little deeper.
Despite the soothing assurances from the National Party that all is well, be well warned.
This is a party who is incompetent to deal with a crisis.
It is unable to make a decision and tends to create layers of consultants all on big fat payments to do very little.

Christchurch will not be voting National. Christchurch has been badly let down by money problems and an unwillingness to spend where it is needed. A year on most people in Christchurch are still waiting for information. Still  it seems that the only attention is on the CBD and looking after business owners. I understand that there is a need to rebuild a city but who will come to shop when they have no money , security or jobs.

The rebuild of ChCh should have been underway on land and sections provided at cost by the Government. The stranglehold on the city by the Insurance Companies seems a feeble excuse to the power the Government demonstrated in its haste to "take over the waterfront" in Auckland. How come, entertainment is a priority with John Key?

The West Coast will not be voting National after the handling of the Pike River. The callousness has been exposed by the local community who feel badly misled .

There are also other smaller parties this year hotly contesting the election. The Mana Party by far is the most exciting and has steadily gained support throughout New Zealand . It will be the one to watch. The Maori Party will be lucky to make it back into Parliament as many Maori do not see the Maori Party as truly representative.

The ALCP will be contesting the Party vote, but they have yet to make much of am impression on the polls.

This is the Election, where alcohol and drugs should be discussed and the Law Commission has indicated the sensible approaches needed to reduce the harm to our communities from alcohol. It seems that we are no mood to be sensible, there is a party on and the whole of New Zealand is invited.

Its a wee bit scary , when you think of the money wasted on this thuggy sport when there are 200,000 children living in poverty and I'm guessing they don't get much benefit from the RWC.
Its a bit like the band playing on while the Titantic was sinking, by comparison, we are smiling and laughing and waving our RWC flags while children's tummies are rumbling and our national debt is rising. oh well It seems no one else is overly concerned.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Love is love and drugs is drug.

When ever my children make comments about gay or use the word I always say to them Love is Love. I recognise and acknowledge love is a wonderful thing and when you find it cherish it.
In 1986 the Homosexual recognised homosexual love. The reason the law was enacted was not really to do with any sentiment or feeling. It was fear of AIDs . The fear lead the Government to pass law to stop furtive underground gay sex that spread AIDs.
The stigma that went with the law change has not really gone. It has not been long that civil unions have been legal.
The same stigma is applied to drugs . Our legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco are advertised and despite the thousands of deaths in New Zealand each year continue to be sold in increasing quantities each year. $200,000.00 per day is spent on alcohol advertising. Compare this to the shadowy and unknown world of illegal drugs. Take the TV show, Underbelly; This is not the reality, the true story is people have always used chemicals to change their consciousness and always will. The killings and deaths occurred because the  prohibition means the risk is worth the inflated prices that can be easily obtained.

Last week, four very ordinary people were in the paper for an alleged ten million dollar cannabis industry. So what! They are no more evil or bad than Lion Breweries or Rothmans. Let them continue their business. The fact that they do not need to advertise their product means, we can assume its good. Why not sell through a licenced outlet like a pub and pay tax on the alleged ten million dollar turnover.

 Drug are drugs. I am so tired of the non-argument that cannabis is a drug. So are alcohol and tobacco. Which is worse, for me and the rest of society? Alcohol, is the worst thing by far!
So Love is Love and drugs is drugs. Lets not be silly enough to pretend there is any great difference between things that, are all essentially one, and the same.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The weather gods are not with us?

Today in Auckland the weather is foul. A cold blustery wind is blowing and I have just returned from my local fish shop. Its a novel experience for me choosing a fish out of the window and then having it filleted. I really like it.
The Rugby at least, is appropriately receiving some wintry weather because, despite the city which has taken leave of it's senses and relocated to Fiji or Tonga, normally a winter sport. Glad, I'm rugged up and getting a cold.

Speaking of sport, many New Zealanders seem to think that they need to weigh as much as an all black. Our latest statistics show that Nz is only less fatter than USA. 20 years ago when I was last in the United States I was underwhelmed by the American food. Overwhelmed by the variety and size of plates, but the fresh food was much harder to find than the processes and fried.  Simple food without mayo, or fries on the side was hard to find. Icing was an inch thick and ice cream was far higher in sugar content. The super sizing of fries and beverages have all supersized our human race.

Funny thing is we all want to get more done, do more and go faster.
More and more people are resorting to caffeine  to gain more energy. Red bull and V are hugely popular beverages and coffee consumption is increasing.

Won't it be interesting to see the effect on public health if people continue to over use caffeine as well as illegal stimulants. The end result will be a likely decrease in lifespan. its possible that in the future the life expectancy will drop back.Cocaine causes heart damage and increased blood pressure. Who know what percentage of the population is going to be using some for of speed in the future?  Cocaine use is rare, in New Zealand due to cost and distance, but we have Ritalin being diverted and a number of P cooks producing pure methamphetamine for supply.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

When is a medicine, not a medicine

Medicines are drugs and drugs are medicines. True? Well, yes and no. I am a Student working towards a Health Sciences degree looking at public health. I am now getting a little confused with the way the health system treats alternative treatment.

Years ago we would not get funding to receive acupuncture or massage as part of treatment. We have a medical system that in most aspects is one of the best in the world but it is failing a special group of people. The people that seek an alternative to the western medical model.A business model where the Doctor has a private practice and can charge as he or sees fit. Not only that , encourages people to to become reliant on pills dished out each visit .

People who don't want a 7 minute appointment and a prescription for a repeat of the medication that may or may not be effective. An example of ineffective medicines is SSRI's fluoxetine or prozac, arapax or many other generic brand names. Anti-depressant prescribing is forever on the increase.
From 1994 to 2004 there was a three fold increase in prescribed anti-deps. Thing is, if the medication worked , why is no one coming off these pills. In fact the numbers would suggest that depression is growing in numbers each year? So is depression transmissible, and we are failing to stop the spread of it? No!

So is it incurable? No!

So what is depression apart from a cluster of symptoms?
Depression is a real illness and it makes people feel miserable, for days, weeks months or years. It seems we don't have a cure and rely on the daily pill taking.
I have a concern, doesn't daily pill taking lead to dependency and addiction?

Apparently not when prescribed medicines are through the doctor. The actual problem we have is self-medicating. You see if you take a prescribed pill every day, needed or not its ok. but take another substance that gives the same benefit, ie, elevates the mood, helps the person to relax or sleep we are in deep do- do. In fact taking what works, if it is a plant called cannabis will land you in court.
Health according to the World Health Organisations description is not just the absence of illness, it encompasses well being.
Being well seems to mean different things for patients and politicians. Our Associate health Minister Peter Dunne Clearly does not worry too much about many peoples health issues at all. he is well aware of the 400,000 current users of cannabis in this country. He seems to believe and endorse the old mantra that don't do as I do, do as I say.
Here is a man in power who has admitting to using cannabis. Yet no one else can be trusted with this substance.
It seems ridiculous to deny seek people, a cheap medicine used by around a billion people who are familiar with a holistic medical model use cannabis.
So how come if I take my pills everyday I am not an addict but if I use cannabis every day for the same condition but with better results I will be sent to court . Who really has the right to say what works when an amputee has sensibly used cannabis for 20 years and yet is now having to defend his right. Is he harming anyone? Not at all.
Our minister of health is creating victims and hurting the most weak and vulnerable. his lack of compassion surely makes him unfit for the role? He has no medical backgound at all. Cannabis works for many people, not just in New Zealand. Most people start of their days with a drug. It can be a cup of tea, or coffee, (caffeine), or an anti depressant to get through the day, an anti-anxiety to cope with work pressures or any other meds, plus the range of alcohol and other drugs, we are a drug taking, relief seeking Nation , but what we take is our business.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lets go Greek!

The ancient Greeks, in particular the Athenians, were extraordinary in their intellectual achievements. Perhaps one of the reasons for this was their remarkable belief system. They believed that individuals have the right to be free as long as they acted within the law. They established democracy thousands of years ago, demos, the Greek word meaning people and Kratos, meaning power or to rule.
 In Athenian Democracy all people were all required to vote, and each year, 500 citizens names were drawn from a pool. They became the leaders and served for a year.
Two proverbs exist from that era that confirm the freedoms that was democracy,
 The first "Nothing in excess " also means anything goes.
The second , "know thyself" implys a high level of self- honesty is required and self reflection the norm.
This week the Greek Prime Minister moved one step closer towards legalisation of cannabis. he also moved towards a new law allowing homosexual couples to co-habit.
In That aspect, New Zealand is light years ahead of the Greeks, due to our far more liberal religious views, we embraced homosexual law reform in 1986. We have had a Civil Union and Protitution Law Reorm Bills in the last five years also.
Unfortunately scant regard has been paid to the 400,000 users of cannabis in New Zealand. Despite having cannabis laws that are 36years old, and The New Zealand Law Commission , and the New Zealand drug Foundation suggesting it is the best way . Peter Dunne , who is not a Doctor, but an associate Minister of health , a complete underling in parliament. He would be a minnow team in the rugby. (Some one like USA, where most prohibition was an epic failure too)
Yet this political worm has done a dirty deal back in 1996 with Labour to supply his support to the first MMP government. What, Peter Dunne can take credit for is an excessive backlog in the court system, waits of two years are common, a whole industry of paid professionals profiting from cannabis offences being held in criminal courts. In addition to the $121,million dollars cost of enforcing cannabis, there is the cost of these six identified workforces , the police, the courts, clerks to judges, lawyers, the counsellors and treatment professionals, the prison staff and the dealers are all making a living because cannabis is still illegal in new Zealand.
I know the economy is crashing in Greece but they are way ahead of us in human rights. The denial of medical trials is a whole new blog for tomorrow .
It is time for a health based approach to cannabis. That's all we want.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

One quarter of our prescription medicines are derived from plants.

We derive one quarter of all our prescription medicines from the rain forests and other plants. Curare, an anaesthetic and muscle relaxant, ipecac, an emetic to induce vomiting, quinine for preventing malaria, and the opium poppy and the cannabis plant. Asprin the most common painkiller is essentially an analgesic derived from acetyl-salicylates . These plant extracts date back to the father of medicine, Hippocrates who derived the painkiller from willow bark in ancient times.

This week. Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne has come out to disappoint many thousands of New Zealanders over his refusal to carry out medical marijuana trials. I seriously can't imagine his reasoning for this. I would think that the relief cannabis provides to many thousands of people in the community will result in some backlash.

There are several high profile New Zealanders who represent all the best reasons to make a medical exemption for them to be able to use cannabis, unimpeded by the law.
The first was Neville Yates of Christchurch (and Daniel Christian) who has been an amputee in a wheelchair since losing his leg in accident. His desire to be free from Opiates led him to use cannabis. The Government did not agree and ten years ago Neville spent a very bad Christmas in prison.

He is not alone, the battle raged on and a number of people with illnesses that often left them wheelchair bound have found cannabis to work very effectively.
The brain has developed with cannabis being part of the developmental journey and we have an anandamide pathway for cannabis with  receptors which indicate this has been a normal part of our evolution. Essentially our bodies can produce and receive the chemicals to manage pain.
Another person, Peter Davy, who was not himself much of a user of cannabis as a carer of his terminally ill partner. He found after research that cannabis was beneficial to her in reducing her spasticity. An all night vigil was held by a group of supporters from all over New Zealand. The spotlight is being placed on this issue and it is unlikely to be dimmed.
The latest to defend his right for both himself and others to use cannabis medicinally is Billy McKee. In Levin, Billy has been a staunch activist for medical Marijuana. Green Cross is an Organisation dedicated to providing high quality cannabis to people with a range of medical conditions. Cannabis provides both comfort and relief to many people. People have been using cannabis for thousands and it is time to recognise its benefits and end the prejudice against the cannabis users.
A more interesting factoid is that the numbers using anti-depressants have trebled in use from 1994 to 2004. Isn't that more worrying?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Its all about flow.l

When things are running smoothly there is said to be flow. Flow is achieved not just by water or electricity , people flow and I believe imagination is a form of flow.
The Romans knew how to manage traffic thousands of years ago, look at the Coliseum and see how it was possible for thousands of people to be seated , arrive and leave with ease due to the flow created from a round -form with many exits that flows like a traffic round-about used today.
Water flows downhill due to gravity and naturally towards the sea.
Flow seem to occur in nature those who design traffic could take a leaf from their natural surroundings.

I am so not shocked or surprised that "the city councel failed to get the management of traffic , to and from the games right"
I think this demonstrates the need for better public transport through out Auckland. Trains are very effective but lack of care and attention to people who use trains has been an issue until the focus of an even like the world cup means a hastily cobbled together plan using trains that the planner would have never ridden in their lives
before you plan something I pays to walk in the shoes of a visitor not a VIP.
I am sure none of the VIPs who were guests and at the games gratis arrived late,No all would have been smoothly chauffeured in style in a large fleet of BMW's.

The people that paid for this spectacle and brought tickets at outrageous prices were badly let down.
I an a dissenter and I do think that planning was inadequate and the organisers can't possible believe that the demand from the public wasn't going to be unlike other events such as Christmas in the park and Chinese lantern festivals even. The thought that planning was only provided for a small number of people would not be logistical from the outset , given the popularity and advertising (community buy -in) how could they expect the numbers to be one tenths of the number, that would arrive?

Heard of participation? Its what everyone wants. It reflects equality.

When all people can participate you have a winner. When all people want to participate you have a huge success. To create a tiny area for an exclusive few is plain rude. I am sure if any other countries were involved but our friendly Kiwi types there would have been a lot more anger erupting.
I am sure that it won't and can't happen again  but who ever thought that creating a public event with room for 50, 000 and 12,000 people is dreaming in a city of over one million people. You should be sacked!
Other than that it was a lovely night .Unless you were downtown being asphix

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Last chance to get it together for the RWC.

I call myself the dissenter because I am a small angry politically motivated commentator. My general leanings are left -feminist and liberal.
 But I consider myself to possess some common sense and despite these few misgiving regarding the RWC, I hope people have fun.
The exclusive nature of this Rugby World Cup.
Because of the marvels of the corporation, no one can be blamed, or held responsible for its success or failure.The disconnect is felt by those who don't have the funds to participate. The most obvious example is the 2000 volunteers needed. Erm I have to say this stinks when people desperate to be part of the RWC are not paid, yet the cost of everything to do with the rugby world cup, is expensive. So if you are on a low income or a benefit the only chance you have of going is being willing to clean up after the others for free.
I actually want to know the total spend on this event!
I think we have a right to know.

Not Enough Room!
WTF were they thinking, when the waterfront and Big event areas hold only 12,000 people and 50,000 people?. Everyone knows that NZ loves a parade, or a free concert. When the "Christmas in the Park" and the Santa Parades in Christchurch alone, pull crowds of 100,000 , the exclusivity shows again. I am getting the feeling that no care, or consideration  was given to the many people who won't fit in. How many people turned away. Bottle neck of angry and disappointed people?

More exclusivity, How come the election has been put on the back burner?
There are actually quite important things going on in the world right now more important than rugby!

The cost.
We are living in financially constrained times and the sort of buzz, I feel building, can only lead to some very disappointed people. We can't all win, as much as that would be nice. There will be losers of the games and the teams will feel bad , but that also translates to the disappointment of overspending on products endorsing your team, (BUMF)  excess alcohol will result in hangovers , some people will get hit and hurt and the TAB will be raking it in. Just remember , where there are winners , there are losers too.

Have a winning time, take care of others and look after those you love, but most of all have fun,
or Samoa, or England, or France , Scotland, Wales,Ireland Argentina, Australia, and all the countries participating . ENJOY!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Our bodies can be quite bewildering at times

I have had a god relationship with my body up until now, but of late I am starting to have less trust in my body to do the job. I have re-injured my knee which is an old skiing injury from years back that perhaps did not heal properly. I remember a torn cruciate ligament from skiing and many weeks on crutches. The knee pain has returned with vengence and months later I am still hobbling around in pain.
Repairing my achy -breaky old set of bones ,( I'm 45 but feel about 90) has become my main mission in life , but I am not really getting what I need. My first visit resulted in mumblings to my question of what is your diagnosis and codeine when I said it really hurts. My hip hurt as well and I blamed that to a tumble from a horse. The next stop was a oesteopath and acupuncturist cure. he seemed to do a really good job and my back and hip are free of most pain , but my knee confounds me.
The pain stops me from wanting to exercise or walk any where above my daily shop. I am not going to keep taking codeine as that is not "fixing" the problem.
Out west there is a great pool complex and for less than $5.00 each ,(includes a community services card discount), we can go sit in a spa , which my friend and I do, while the younger one can swim , splash , enjoy the wave pool or hydroslide. I am happy sitting in big bowl of bubbling human soup. You also see people of all shapes and sizes in their swimwear.  Most people are fortunate with their body too, but there are some comical sights and unusual shaped and sized bits. However the pleasure of relaxation in water is shared by all.

In the late afternoon there is often a large beam of sunlight shining through the roof and onto the water where, if you look closely you can see the effervescence of the water bouncing up!

I also accidentally found my self participating what is the world most agonisingly boring sport, water walking. I have found aqua therapy to be great for my knee , low impact and its actually quite an aerobic challenge to be furiously pumping all limbs at once, water walking and doing a speed of less than a kilometre an hour. My eleven year-old thinks its fun so I joined in for one lap before deciding it feels more like standing still.

However when you get the blahs , as we all do from time to time, and you need, something else to do or think about; hunt out your togs and head for your local pool complex. Its where I will be a few times a week until summer has arrived.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A picture says a thousand words.

An interesting photo shows a group of angry protesters outside the cabinet meeting in Christchurch . However the headline reads "Taxpayer's share of bill for refund to rise again."
I read the article but not one sentence was given to the large group of dissenters. They held aloft a group of interesting signs , all pointing out the differences between the rich and poor. High lighting inequality and showing the men in power that the system is not working is being ignored.
One sign that stood out was this,

I wonder what they mean?

Tell me more?

Who wrote it?

I like it. The tide has turned on the Government down south and for some reason the media does not seem to want to show the reality. We are being lulled into a false sense of reality especially here in Auckland.   But the sense that I am getting in we think losing the World Cup is bad, THAT"S nothing!
The hard times are ahead and the when the truth is told people will be angry and annoyed.
Perhaps this Government thinks that a jolly good party is all we need , yet it also is chopping into services while we are not looking. The last two weeks I have seen the end of the APA, which again makes me think, without them?
I don't know about you, but when the state housing dept. is laying off people and abandoning projects, selling off State assets I am very concerned. Hopefully a more true reflection of what public sentiment is really like, apart from what the papers are telling you will be presented soon and not until after the election. Cos don't you hate that saying, I told You so!?

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Avondale, the best place in Auckland on Sundays.

I live in Avondale and obviously I am not wealthy. But let me tell you , for those who have not been to Avondale lately, why I love living here.
First of all I am partial to horse racing.
So living in full view of the Avondale race course is even better, cos now that there is no longer racing the grounds are utilised on Sundays by the markets.
For a tiny amount of money a lot of fun can be had.

The race course is full of adventures. Of course there is no more betting on the horses but lots of excitement can be found if you are looking for a bargain.
Both of the shopping variety and the culinary kind.all kinds of morsels of food from countries all around the world can be sampled.
I head straight towards to coffee as it is Sunday, and this is my treat.

We purchase the backbone of a new vegetable garden, tomato plants, silver beet, courgette, lettuce and spinach.
Plus some new-old shoes, clothes and food.

On our way home I marvel at the number of pedestrian crossings on my street but that's ok, we have lots of people without cars living here.
 Its OK in Avondale, in fact , its better than that. Its a vibrant and bustling community that's is made up of many global citizens and being new here I can honestly say I feel welcomed.
 I have two children who have moved from Christchurch and both attend schools in Avondale, Intermediate and College respectively.
I love it, every day presents a new challenge and living in Avondale, with its smiling friendly community makes me so glad we came.

I would not want to go back to Christchurch, and right now I can honestly say I would not want to live anywhere else either.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Odd man out.

Today I went to my much awaited Cutting Edge Conference in Auckland for the Alcohol and Drug Treatment workers. I am a trained Alcohol and Drug clinician but my invite to the Conference was as a whanau member of a consumer. The consumer means of AOD services, not a consumer of drugs ideally.
I looked around the room and in a sea of three hundred and sixty faces (I was told) I saw some familiar ones and some of old friends and colleagues.
My lasting interest or addiction even, is to cannabis law reform. For the past 13 years I have been a passionate vocal advocate for the decriminalising if not legalising of cannabis. Some would argue: with alcohol and tobacco we don't need another drug.

I say its already here and this issue has been hotly debated for the past 35 years. How is that we can have a law that sees fit to send people to jail for growing a plant, when all scientific evidence shows alcohol is far more harmful to public health and tobacco will kill one in two of its users?
The Saddest thing to me was being an outsider and really feeling like an outsider at this conference, for what seems to me to be more than an oversight but there was no mention of cannabis in the programme and no speakers on or presentations about cannabis at all.
I can't understand how the most popular illicit substance in New Zealand fails to rate a mention, and given that cannabis is the second reason for all presentations at CADS so why not some treatment information or research on cannabis.
Is the reason cannabis is not on the programme because it is not a problem or does not cause the same amount of problems for its users as other drugs?
Is the reason no one wants to talk about it, related to contracts and funding?

I don't understand how 360 workers in the health field can continue to allow people to go to jail for cannabis cultivation when I thought cannabis dependency is a health problem.
I also think cannabis is a valuable medicine and also viable alternative to alcohol for many people.
Who will help me find the answers?

I am forming the cannabis consumer group for  people who are in treatment or want to receive treatment for cannabis dependency. As was stated at the formation of the nationwide network of consumer groups , sometimes you have to start at the end point or goal first .
MY first question is can cannabis users expect the same level of treatment , information and support as alcoholics, gamblers and opiate users? Where can they access this service?

Despite 35 plus years of campaigning for cannabis law reform and the latest suggestions from the Law Commission I am sure that the status quo is maintained very nicely thanks, and every one gets paid when a cannabis consumer goes through the court system and then to jail.
In my 45 years on this planet I have yet to hear a person come out of court and say , Hell Yes! that Judge was so  right. I am never smoking cannabis again. Tonight I send my apologies to the estimated 400,000 cannabis users who will continue to feel stigmatised and discriminated against while the health workers sit on their hands or watch.