D SCENE SAYS - Police credibility at stake
Editorial - Pot politics comes back to prohibition
So police are finally potting cannabis smokers at Otago University.
Fair enough. It is illegal.
It’s not as if the university exists in some sort of bubble where the laws of this fine land are temporarily suspended.
Smokers can’t say they didn’t see it coming, no matter how thick the haze around them.
They have, by their own admission, been offering themselves up for arrest for years.
The police crackdown surely stems from recent student protests about varsity security group Campus Watch overstepping its brief.
That hit the headlines last month when cops tipped off by Campus Watch started arresting students at the blatant and well attended pot smoke-ins.
You can imagine police bosses in Wellington getting on the blower to their southern counterparts to ask exactly what they were doing about these dopeheads thumbing their noses at the law.
It’s sparked the kind of flare-up rarely seen these days on politically benign varsity grounds.
The timing is ticklish – last Sunday saw Otago University unveil its new mega-bucks TV advertising campaign aimed at attracting new students.
Given how touchy university bosses are about anything remotely associated with Otago’s booze-soaked, good-time freshman reputation, the pot publicity must have them wanting a good strong cuppa and a lie-down.
At the heart of the stoush is whether cannabis prohibition does more harm than good.
The pot-puffers will be chuffed about the attention their previously under-the-radar smoke-ins are getting.
But you have to ask if the busts are a smart use of police time. the thin blue line is stretched to breaking point, with the Police Association calling for 1700 more officers and cops sometimes struggling to attend even slam-dunk cases – including a fast food joint which caught staff on camera pinching thousands of dollars.
When it gets to that stage, something has to give.
Police, through no fault of their own, are being pulled into a minor political scrap that threatens to sap their resources and, on campus at least, damage their credibility.
That’s one for the lawmakers to inhale.
As Albert Einstein said of 1920s booze prohibition laws in the United states: “Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.”