Thursday, 21 June 2012

Oh No, Not again! Cannabis Law Reform 101

Once again the Daktory cannabis club was raided by the police last night. It's not that I don't support the Daktory, I take my Hat off to Dakta Green, and his supporters, but I do think the adage applies, if you keep doing what you have always done , you will get what you have always got . In their case arrested!

There are no winners in arresting Dakta Green, the police appear over zealous and Dakta Green is likely to then become another cost to the country in jail.

Closer examination of the situation looks a bit like a Mexican stand -off. Green has plenty of supporters and support for the cannabis club and the police, it can be argued are only doing their job.  But is this how the Cannabis Law Reform battle is going to be played out?

There are several stake holders in the game of Law reform through civil disobedience. In many ways its a repeat of what when on in massage parlours around the country for decades until the law regulated the industry with health concerns and age restrictions.

The stakeholders are the growers, sellers, and buyers versus the law and the treatment fraternity who claim that cannabis is the biggest cause of presentations to health services of illegal drugs. But as a Chief Medical Officer from Wellington, was recently on the radio saying that cannabis accounts for only one in 500 presentations to hospital compared to alcohol abuse.  He is not alone. Professor Doug Sellman will admit readily that alcohol causes more harm to the community to cannabis as will Prof. David Nutt of the UK. Nutt was the head of the the UK scientific drug research programme until he was fired for saying, that Esctasy is safer than horse riding, a  fact that drove the Government into overdrive until he was sacked.

While Dakta Green is doing what he believes is right for Law reform, there are other options to pursue and many that pose less risk. The Law Commission conducted a review of cannabis and came up with many recommendations , including investigation into medical uses of cannabis and lower sanctions for social dealing. The law commission remained clear that commercial scale operations would not be tolerated.

Things are pretty confused, I will admit, as presently a great number of sick people and invalids are appearing before a judge who is forced to make a legal decision on what perhaps, may be a moral and ethical issue as well as a legal one. Most people will agree that the courts are not the right places for medical decisions as there are not too many judges, that are also medical doctors. How difficult it must be for a compassionate person to see an amputee in a wheel chair and deny him or her the use of a plant for therapeutic purposes.

Why should they even be in this position?

Billy McKee is a veteran activist for cannabis law reform and is an amputee. Right now , he is on trial for supplying cannabis to other sick people. He makes no financial gain. his lifestyle is simple and he tends not to smoke the cannabis plant but apply it as a poultice.

 I think this is the common cause for people to unite for. Regardless of your feeling about smoking a plant, or legalising cannabis. In this day and age, cannabis should be allowed as a medicine and all barriers preventing this, should be removed. Any invalid will tell you, life with pain is difficult enough without further restrictions on the individuals right to, choice of treatment. Plus it is only in keeping with what has already occurring in most places in the USA and Canada and of course has been common practice for the past thousands of years in Asia.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What about the children? Paula.

Michael Jackson loved children and wanted to live his life sharing the joy and wonderment with them. Perhaps he loved some children too much . The question that is on my mind today is the fact that Paula Bennett seems to want to have a discussion that begins with , it's worth considering sterelising mothers rather than allowing them to breed more children to harm and kill. Hekia Parata wants to reduce facilities in our Intermediate schools in an effort to save money.

Both of these initiatives directly affect young people and yet when do we hear the voice of these young people. Their voices are silenced in this country. They have no volume switch to turn up, to be heard even.

I believe that we use the wrong lens to view our social problems. We let our anger get in the way and we use our power to blame and manipulate people and attempt to control the environment. When that fails again we punish harder.

What I think we should be doing is turning our focus onto the children and looking at ways to provide better safety, shelter, food and clothing. If warmth is lacking the home, it is time to remember the most basic of human rights; is the right to safety and have access to shelter and food.

 Instead of intensively focussing on the damaged , hopeless, ill, depressed or impoverished parents who fail to be capable, we need to provide the safety net to their children. These children of school age will speak up for their younger siblings too provided it is not a dobbing in or narking situation. There needs to be a gentle approach as the lives these children live, are already brutal enough.Children may need more after school and weekend centres, to prevent cases of neglect.

Why are we so moral and quick to point the finger at a crap parent?
 There have always been historical cases of very bleak childhoods, with violence and cruelty. But at some level  we may have to change our ideas about fixing the adults, and just focus on listening to the needs of the children . I have never seen consultation with children in finding the solution apart from some youth court restorative justice conferences.

Punishing the worst of parents tends to perpetuate the problem as to avoid punishment, the parent may suddenly move. Kids need this extra support provided to them for free as it is part of their human rights, given they are the victims in the situation and powerless .