Campaigner's Sentencing Political Injustice
Wednesday, 29 June 2011, 3:42 pm
Press Release: MildGreens
Press Release: MildGreens. For imediate release.
Politicians and Prohibitors may call Dakta Greens sentencing 'Justice' but health and justice policy activist Dakta Green is right, this is, indisputably political.
It should be obvious to all that there is no New Zealand Alcohol Party, or Tobacco Party of Aotearoa, nor is there likely to ever be on your next electoral ballot sheet a Party of Kronic. But there it is, every by-election, every general election, and many local body elections "ALCP", the monicker for the MMP inspired Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.
On its merits ALCP polls more than Jim Anderton's Progressives, or Dunne's United Future... It does so without access to mainstream media, televised debates or material resources. Two of its former candidates have been elected, and re-elected to parliament.
What simply does not work is the system of severe penalties for producing, transhipping and selling substances deemed illegal.
During my first four years as a National MP I initiated four policy papers, three of which were ultimately embraced as party policy.
11 June, 2011
A top Government scientist says there is an "appalling" lack of information about synthetic cannabis products - but tests so far do not indicate serious mental or physical health risks.
Products such as Kronic which are available in dairies throughout New Zealand contain chemicals that closely mimic the effects of cannabis.
Tests by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) have detected a dozen different active chemicals in Kronic, most of which are described by ESR forensic general manager Keith Bedford as experimental and poorly researched.
"But I think although there's an appalling lack of information on the risks and toxicity of these new substances, every indication seems to be that they are not a high or even medium level of risk - there's a low level of risk."
Dr Bedford said he backed the Government's moves to make "legal weed" products restricted substances instead of banning them outright.
He said a "moral panic" was fuelling attitudes to ban the products instead of restricting them.
A legislative amendment expected to be passed next year will clamp down on where the products can be sold and advertised and force distributors to state on packaging what substances they contain.
While banning is the traditional approach to drugs classed as dangerous, a regulatory "no-man's-land" exists around substances which do not clearly pose a "medium" level of risk, Dr Bedford said.
"I know that harm minimisation has got a mixed press in some cases, but there's a lot to be said for trying to manage and contain the situation rather than almost a knee-jerk reaction of banning without the evidence to back that up," Dr Bedford said.
Banning the products would also prove difficult for authorities faced with the myriad synthetic substances involved.
"You're trying to describe a group of chemicals which, in some cases, are quite different from each other and from THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.
Dr Bedford's comments follow a number of anecdotal reports that using Kronic can lead to long-lasting and heightened negative emotions and send heart rates soaring.
A Herald investigation showed that buying synthetic cannabis was as easy as buying an icecream for under-18s.
Otago researchers today told Prime Minister John Key that older teenagers aged between 18 and 21 years should get the same light-handed treatment many teenagers under 16 years get for possession of cannabis.
"The New Zealand youth justice system has evolved a system in which the majority of young people coming to attention are dealt with by diversion rather than prosecution," said Otago University researchers David Fergusson and Joseph Boden.
"There is a clear case for extending these provisions to older adolescents".
While there was increasing evidence of the damage the drug does to some users, a lot of teenagers using it a little were unlikely to be harmed.
The days are numbered for tourists wanting to legally puff on a joint in an Amsterdam cannabis café.
Conservative Holland MPs are pushing legislation that will control who can use the infamous shops that sell marijuana and products containing the drug, the Daily Mail reported.
By the end of this year, only Dutch residents will be able to enter the special cafés.
Customers will have to sign up to a yearly membership to the coffee shops and each shop will be limited to 1500 members.
The law is a bid to reduce the number of foreigners who visit the country solely to get a legal high – and abuse the privilege.
"This law will put an end to the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drugs trafficking," a statement from the Dutch health and justice ministries said.
But the move has been slammed as "tourism suicide" by opposition MPs and those in the hospitality industry.
A Tauranga man's attempt to make cannabis oil in a kitchen ended in an explosion which blew out two windows and in his arrest.
The 28-year-old local man suffered burns to his hands and face and was treated at Tauranga Hospital, Detective Alan Kingsbury, of Tauranga police, said.
He had been charged with attempting to produce cannabis oil and was due to appear in Tauranga District Court on Tuesday.
The Fire Service were called to the house about 8.30pm last night after the explosion and fire that spread to the walls and ceiling of the kitchen, Mr Kingsbury said.
It was lucky a mother and her three young children, who also lived at the property, were not hurt as many of the chemicals commonly used were extremely flammable, he said.
The explosion highlighted the dangers that came with producing illicit drugs, he said.
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By Vishva Samani
BBC News, Garberville
The aroma of marijuana is rarely far away in the town of Garberville, in northern California's Humboldt County, but as a topic of conversation it remains taboo - at least for outsiders.
It feels like a 1960s hippie town that never quite grew up. Garberville nestles in the thick of the mighty redwood forest to the north of San Francisco - but it isn't just the ancient tall trees that draw people to these parts.
This is the marijuana heartland of the US. So I anticipated an openness among people when broaching the subject of weed. But I was mistaken.
Locals I spoke to discreetly said they either worked as "farmers" or sold fertiliser, without elaborating much further.
Tens of thousands of Mexicans have marched into the capital city to protest the wave of killing that has claimed 38,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon launched his war on drug gangs in late 2006.
Demonstrators, many wearing white and walking in silence, held up placards that read "Not a single more death," "Enough already" and "No more bloodshed."
The march started on Thursday about 72 kilometres from the capital in the tourist city of Cuernavaca, which has been rocked by drug-related violence and where in March suspected hitmen killed the son of writer Javier Sicilia, who is heading the march.
"We don't want any more death because of this growing mess," said Sicilia, from a platform in Mexico's huge central Zocalo square, where the demonstrators gathered.
"No more deaths, no more hate. We've come out to walk these streets with dignity and peace ... violence will only bring us more violence," he added.
A former New Zealand police officer is in custody in a Rarotonga jail on drugs charges after a year-long investigation.
It is alleged the man, who has name suppression in the Cook Islands, was operating as a local drug dealer and selling cannabis from a bar.
He headed high profile police inquiries in New Zealand before moving to the Cook Islands five years ago, TV One News reported.
New Zealand officers have been in Rarotonga investigating corruption and the distribution of cannabis and other drugs over the past week and 13 people have been arrested.
The judge presiding over the case has said he will be sending the very strong message that drug dealing will not be tolerated.