Right On – Jan 17 – 23


A FRIEND texted me that her partner was down at the local cop shop. As he inquired about an unrelated matter, police smelt dope and entered his flat, demanding he reveal what he had. Was that legal, she asked? Yes, I responded. Grounds for suspicion is enough to provoke a legitimate search. Fortunately he wasn’t charged. Dragging him through the court would have achieved nothing. His finances are permanently in the red and his health status is poor due to disabilities he was born with. Pushing him through the ‘justice’ system would have cost. Conceivably the associated stress would trigger an illness episode that would also have cost. Imprisonment would be unthinkable. So I was pleased to recently learn the numbers of arrests for minor drug offences has dropped as police employ a new pre-charge warning.

Let’s face it – the Law Commission has but the Justice Minister, Judith Collins, won’t – the illegal status of recreational drugs and threat of punishment for their use or sale, has not worked.
New Zealanders, in large numbers, ignore the state and indulge in what they like. The government is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars prosecuting and sometimes imprisoning people who are a danger to nobody but themselves – and users would even argue that point. The debate over decriminalisation or legalisation of drugs (particularly cannabis) typically gets bogged down in whether or not they are harmful; whether they should be treated differently from alcohol; and the difference between use, abuse and addiction. But if we circumvent all that and accept drugs can and do damage lives, does it follow that users must be persecuted by the law?

It seems like folly to me. Worse, it’s created a nasty, violent ‘other’ New Zealand where the pursuit of easy money and brutal power, largely by amoral gangs, blights lives doubly. The dogged defence of the status quo by Collins is inconceivable.

By Lindsay Mitchell


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