THE CANNABIS REFERENDUM

As a libertarian I strongly believe in people making their own decisions as to how they live their lives. Some people are risk-takers seeking, in the case of say self-employment, a higher than standard income and the dignity they feel in being their own master. Others seek the security of employment at the price of a lesser material living standard.

Some opt for physically risky sports such as mountaineering or boxing; others golf and tennis.

Some over-indulge with alcohol, others shun it altogether because of its potential adverse health effects.

I judge none of them, each to their own being my motto.

So given all of that, why will I be voting against making cannabis legal in the coming referendum?

The cold hard fact is that regular cannabis use has serious proven detrimental health effects.

The term “recreational users” I accept for folk who have an occasional joint and for whom the effect, as with a glass or two of wine, is presumably therapeutic.  

My problem with this is it’s not an “each to their own situation,” rather with many (30% of all users according to a study) cannabis quickly becomes an addiction, particularly with younger folks, thus the cost of the subsequent mental and physiological health problems inevitably falls on taxpayers.

To all of that a critic will say to be consistent I should call for a ban on alcohol. Alcohol is a regular part of most of our lives, only with a key difference. 30% of alcohol imbibers do not end up in a permanently damaged state at a cost to everyone else.

An American alliance including community organisations, health professionals, educators, police and addiction counsellors formed to educate voters on diverse issues confronting society, have published excellent research on cannabis usage.

Google them at Sam.org/who-are-we. They’re an impressive line-up.

Then Google SAM-NZ which will lead on to many sources of pertinent evidence on cannabis.

Currently more than 50% of New Zealanders are unable to survive without dependency on their fellow men via government welfare.

There’s a variety of individual reasons, some acceptable in a brothers’ keepers sense but far too many others are categorisable as addictive parasitism.

Why would we want to encourage a new crop of dependency no-hopers?

So as a libertarian I will vote against to protect my own liberty from financial assaults by wilful self-destructible types. Furthermore, I’ll wager this referendum will fail, just as the euthanasia one will succeed.

30 Comments

I’m no doper myself. That said, Lennon & McCartney did okay despite their consumption

I too am going to vote against it Bob. As a former police officer I too often saw the effects of drugs, including cannabis-not just on the person/s using them but more so on the families especially children who got ‘left behind’ in the drugs environment. What the proponents of the ‘yes’ vote don’t mention is that the TLC ( potency) levels in cannabis have drastically grown. Sort of like someone who thinks they’re having a beer actually drinking whisky.

“Currently more than 50% of New Zealanders are unable to survive without dependency on their fellow men via welfare”
Can this be true Sir Bob? I know the numbers are terrible but I didnt think that bad. I’m prepared to be proven wrong but would like to see how that 50% is made up by benefit type.
Anyone help me here?

And TLC levels alone is why the “for groups” arguement fails. Hilariously they try to convince us that the gangs will stop selling dope when it is legalized. In fact the market will grow exponentially as when it is legal use expands. Peer pressure alone will achieve this. And new users will soon seek a better “hit” which the high TLC level dope the gangs push will provide.
The gangs product will also be cheaper as they don’t pay tax or charge GST.
Only the drug adelled morons pushing their own cause could believe legalizing drugs is a good thing.
What we should be doing is increasing the penalties 10 fold. The Phillipines has a good strategy.

Never smoked cannabis. Been in a few rooms full of a thick blue haze in my time but psycho-active influence has never been my thing. That said I think having legal access to cannabis for health reasons is vital. No we don’t have that now. I can’t go to a Dr right now and say “i’d like some some Cannabis leaves and stems thanks….wan’t to go home home and juice em” Drs in NZ can supposedly prescribe for cannabis use currently(pharmaceutical supplied n approved) but that is not what I am talking about here. The plant has medicinal qualities that can save lives. What kinds of qualities do the products of the pharmaceutical industry impart to the user? All of them are poisonous at some level….but that’s ok right? Will there ever be a cure for the pervasive blindness of the general populace? I think not. Getting stoned or drunk is a pointless pastime. Curing or controlling disease safely and naturally is noble, good and the right thing to do. If people had hope and some degree of economic prosperity maybe they would be less likely to treat Cannabis immaturely and abuse it’s benefits. If this country “chooses” or more correctly gets manipulated into choosing against adults making adult decisions then we might as well just turn out the lights.

Thank you, Bob I appreciate your insight. And no-one (apparently) saw it coming when pondering vaping that 14 year old girls would dare not use the toilets fearing the peer pressure from vaping fellow students, as they do at (at least) one respectable Auckland school. Just how much of this unforeseen impact is there that we are set to suffer if the Cannabis Referendum was to succeed? As there is likely some degree of impact, and potentially much more than ‘some’, how can this Referendum possibly be worthy of our support? Thanks Bob, keep on keeping on!

Well written Bob, I share similar concerns having had two family members fall by the wayside through serious mental health issues brought on by excessive Cannabis use. The great thing about over imbibing on alcohol at a young age is that it can punish you with a horrendous hangover causing a decent delay in between drinks. Cannabis doesn’t have that effect and it is too easy for a youngster to become addicted at a huge cost to their mental health.

Logic will win on the day and the vote against will win handsomely much to the chagrin of the looney Green Party. Let’s hope they get 4.99% of the vote on election day, that would be worth celebrating with excessive alcohol. Then the likes of Shaw, Swarbuck, Gorlitz and the token Maori co-leader can go out and get real jobs. Or perhaps we could send them on a one way trip to Caracas.

    markscreaminggoosearmstrong October 13, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Logic here seems to have forgotten that the quickest cure – or at least delay – for a hangover is a “hair of the dog”.

Dear Bob ,
You have entertained me for decades and encouraged me to think on the subjects , sports and policies you write about. Thank you for this . As a fellow libertarian I’ve also accepted the life choices that fellow humans have chosen . In return I’ve hoped that my life choices would be tolerated and in this case become legal.
There are many many cannabis users who have been contributors in our society. Many who have been ‘successful’, many who have been loving parents and helpful friends. Many who are full of vitality, love , and paid their share of tax . However the one thing we don’t have is permission to exercise our choice in the way we feel . Quite demeaning actually .
Sadly our choice of drug is illegal currently .
Of course there is visible portion of users who are not successful and some require state aid. The vast majority of users are not in this box .
So Bob my request to you is to allow the rest of us ( the doers , shakers and normal folk )to quietly return to society and not feel like we have to sneak around .
My observation after 44 years of paying tax and .. enjoying cannabis , is that 10% of users could be considered problem smokers . The rest , are just having a good time . No harm in feeling good !

I am aware that canabis is sometimes laced with elements of ‘P’ and certainly that is happening with MDMA. If that is happening now if canabis is decriminalised and sales allowed, the vendor market will still have people who will still lace to move people into the harder drug market becaseu of the obvious price benefit. The referendum on canabis comes at a time when ‘work- place’ drug testing and no drug policies are prevalent: e.g. in offshore fishing; construction and farming (instances of quad bike accidents are canabis related). I am aware that certain mussel farm barges have a night time issue of canabis toking.

I know an academic who is a critical race theory proponent. He argues that to not decriminalise canabis is racist. That however is to conflate race with social class.

The referendum is not about whether the world is better off without Tobacco, Alcohol and Dope (in descending order of society impact). The answer to that question is obviously yes. It’s about how to make a broken system better. The proposed legislation offers a proposal to do just that. To the no voters I challenge you to come up with something better than the current system where many young Maori are brought in front of the courts (the rest of us left of with a warning), the gangs push people onto meth (more profitable) to the point where its easier to get than dope and we spend many millions a year policing a law that is simply ignored by many.

Your reasoning is completely convincing. I would like to know whether you are as irritated as I am by the framing of this issue as a choice between open-slather grow-your-own or total prohibition. There are health benefits from cannabis extracts that could be the basis of a properly regulated “natural health products” industry. I can walk into Hardy’s Healthy Living or Health 2000 and buy capsules of St John’s Wort or 5-HTP and I think it is wrong that there are no cannabis extracts available under similar conditions. The older I have got, the more I am inclined to think the various conspiracy theories about “Big Pharma” have some substance to them. Especially my long experience with alternative treatments for a chronic health condition, which was where the solution lay after mainstream medicine would do nothing more than consign me to a lifetime on prescription painkilling drugs and palliatives. All of these gave me such intolerable side effects anyway, that I could not continue with them. On balance, I am prepared to believe that some kind of cannabis extract might have helped but I am not interested in rolling my own joints and smoking them or baking CBO cookies. I want to see something from Solgar or Red Seal or Thomson’s, available off the shelf at health products retailers.

I have good friends who think just like yourself but for 44 years you have enjoyed your vice seemingly with few ill effects. Some people a capable of managing themselves but sadly most are not, especially those with addictive personalities and I have seen these poor soles also.
I also have a friend who has used other drugs which if legal I would be very kean to try just for the “excitement ” experience but I don’t because they are illegal.
So were do we stop once we legalize one drug?
Every thing I read screams a lot of negatives and few positives.
I have voted no already and yes to choice and hope my vote helps David Seymour the standout politician of all in this country albiet he has very little competition.

It’s an evocative topic. It’s hard to argue that the amount of time the police spend chasing around (basically harmless) cannabis possession or use is a good use of taxpayers money either.
In general with all the health evidence against smoking, especially the amount of road accidents involving dope, I would find it hard to vote yes.

It’s an evocative topic. It’s hard to argue that the amount of time the police spend chasing around (basically harmless) cannabis possession or use is a good use of taxpayers money either.
In general with all the health evidence against smoking, especially the amount of road accidents involving dope, I would find it hard to vote yes. That said, most senior police will privately say that policing drugs is a lot less effective than educating and treating drug use as a public health issue.

As a former cannabis user for a period in my earlier days I can assure you extensive use of cannabis does negatively effect short term memory.

Smoking tobacco, is well proven to quickly becomes an addiction, particularly with younger folks, thus the cost of the subsequent health problems inevitably falls on taxpayers.
At least 30% of Smoker end up in a permanently damaged state at a cost to everyone else.
Also, alcohol is a regular part of most of our lives, only with a key difference. 30% of alcohol imbibers do not end up in a permanently damaged state at a cost to everyone else. Question is, would you consider the effects of alcohol, violence, injury, death, medical issue, with the resultant state funded treatment a cost on everyone else?
As I see it, once legalised, the Govt will inevitably Tax the living daylights out of it. They really have no option given their propensity to heavily tax Tobacco, and Alcohol. Unlike those two, cannabis growth and cultivation is an established illegal industry.
Imagine the communist Green party, ideal world. Druggie, grows their own plant at home, and consumes it, problem being, the plant never allowed to grow, plucked too often. So Granny’s around the country unite to fill the supply chain, growing a small crop at home to supply friends and family. Maybe a little extra cash. Problem is this act will be illegal, as is now. Though won’t be illegal to have a plant in your garden. No doubt, you’ll be able to go to your local garden centre and buy seedlings. Lagalisation of the plant itself, a Green party initiative, is an incredibly stupid move, where once released, the cat can’t be put back into the bag.
Illegal growth and distribution will prosper, more so than already exist. Legal growers will be disadvantaged by taxation, and regulatory compliance cost. So, all in all, I’m of the opinion decriminalize, and medically prescribe. Though don’t legalize.

Europeans (and many other cultures) have several thousand years of alcohol consumption baked into their evolutionary genetics for, among other things, the disease prevention advantages it produced (killing bugs in drinking water). It’s a very controllable high, with almost no long term health detriments at sensible levels of consumption. Not so Cannabis, which destroys short term memory in daily users, making them unemployable.
I’ll be voting for status quo because it produces the least number of cannabis abusers, particularly amongst teens and young adults, legalisation and vaping makes it too inconspicuous.

markscreaminggoosearmstrong October 10, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Please tell me where the 30% figures come from because those figures are contrary to the ones I see in almost all of the reports I have read – you are clearly being very selective in your quotes Sir Robert.
However regardless of selected statistics that may or may not be good science, I favour the legalisation of all drugs so society is able to deal with drug abuse issues not hide them away by the quaffing politicians making drug use criminal behaviour.
And this while we sip on our whisky and beat up our wives and family, then talk about “drugs and alcohol” when alcohol is the drug that causes way more damage and all of the rest of the drugs put together. It is undisputed by anecdote and science that THC does not encourage violence whereas the opposite is true for alcohol – many of us, including me, have good friends we will not drink with because when they drink they become aggressive and a danger and PITA both at the pub and on our roads. Cannabis does not have this affect although mixed with other drugs any drug has unpredictable effects. If we took all of the crimes committed under the influence of alcohol and put the same people in the same situation under the influence of THC the rate of criminal behaviour would plummet.Just read the court news for drug related crime and alcohol is key, P clearly a nasty but crime under the influence of THC does not feature at all.
And many problem drinkers have chosen to smoke weed instead of drink because it is much better for them.
Your reading on this matter is clearly deficient Sir Robert. Links between drug use and welfare dependency is chicken and egg stuff – socioeconomics at work. Poverty is the issue that needs attacking because it encourages all kinds of drug abuse and the proliferation of booze outlets in South Auckland amply illustrates this point. My extensive reading on the subject tells me that there is no global example where banning a previously legal drug has reduced the damage done by that drug. And I am happy to be directed to well proven examples if you can find them – I’m guessing there must be a few somewhere, but they will be few in number compared with many historical instances where banning a drug results in increased harm from that drug.
But until that worst of all drugs, alcohol, is illegal or at least more controlled, it is nothing short of hypocricy to maintain that we support freedom of choice but favour criminalising social use of marijuana.

    Surely you can see the folly of your argument. You state, correctly that alcohol causes many social problems therefore it is logical to argue that the legalisation of it contributes to the issues today. We also would agree that prohibition was an abject failure especially given how easy it is to make it at home. In short the law lost the battle and so we have today’s alcohol related issues.
    In relation to dope you can talk to police, medical professionals, councillors, mental health specialists, welfare staff etc etc who will all talk about the social and life damage being done by dope right now. If you ignore this then stop smoking the stuff! So ….. why, knowing the explosion in these issues legalisation will cause would you do it? Because the police are useless? Because we have lost the battle? BS. While it is Illegal it is not found in the standard garden just like stills weren’t in all garages during prohibition.
    You seem to imply by legalising all drugs then all users will get help. You must be looking to open a chain of drop in drug centres because housing all the staff to treat all the weak minded druggies will be big business. Sir Bob might be filling some of his vacant space. Sounds like dreams to me.
    Question for you. Why are Maori the biggest users of dope in this country especially young ones who lupey Cindy and Greens say are ALL getting undeserved criminal records simiply because they love breaking the current law to get high? I always thought drugs were expensive but these users are our low income (or unemployable) winners, … not! Plenty of money for drugs though right?

I have a better idea. Make the following TOTALLY illegal:

-Churches (and mosques).
-Visible tattoos.
-Alcohol.
-Dogs (expect working dogs on farms, and tiny dogs for old people).
-Drugs.
-Smoking and vaping.

The result? People (the right types) would flee my totalitarian state for Australia, and New Zealand would become an awesome place. You would lose a lot of good people, but who cares…it’s better to ruthlessly screen-out all the undesirable ones with an aggressive filter. Just make new friends.

In the forest industry we have regular spot checks of staff working in forests. In the East Coast it is impossible to eliminate its use and we do not have the luxury of other potential staff to sack those with a positive test. Never-the-less the testing does stop its use by forest workers running rampantly out of control. In February this year I spoke to two policemen (one senior) on the streets of Aspen, Colorado. They were full of factual information about what Cannabis legalisation had done in Colorado. More young people accessing it, more crime, more mental issues and drado.efinitely more road accidents. They said they were totally against the law changes made in Colorado.

One of our most ridiculous recent decisions in New Zealand was legalising gambling on machines and at Casinos in 1991 (29 years ago). Speak to the gambling annonymous people and they will tell you of the dreadful social problems this has caused and the massive cost that has hit predominantly our lower social economic groups. Poverty on a scale most of us can’t comprehend, because the paycheque is blown well before the next one comes in.
My guess is legalising cannabis will (would) have a similar but different negative social effect on our society.

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