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Chris Trotter argues the cannabis ‘Yes’ Campaign refraining entirely from extolling the intrinsic virtues of cannabis tells us a great deal about how deeply ingrained the puritanical 'anti-pleasure principle' remains in the New Zealand character

Chris Trotter argues the cannabis ‘Yes’ Campaign refraining entirely from extolling the intrinsic virtues of cannabis tells us a great deal about how deeply ingrained the puritanical 'anti-pleasure principle' remains in the New Zealand character

By Chris Trotter*

What's eating Andrew Little? His curt dismissal of the 46% of New Zealanders who voted to legalise cannabis for personal use seems strange.

These voters are, when all is said and done, among the Labour Party’s most loyal supporters. Young New Zealanders and Maori New Zealanders represent the bedrock of Labour’s electoral base – the foundation of the foundation, if you will.

Casting aside their votes, and hopes, with such inflexible finality is difficult to reconcile with the fact that these voters constitute the party’s future. The biggest block of the “No” vote, the over-65s, represent a generation of voters which is, quite literally, passing away. This coddling of the old and conservative by the Justice Minister makes even less sense than his contempt for the young and progressive.

A politician of Little’s seniority and experience can usually be relied upon to take a rounded view of a referendum result as close (and likely to get closer when all the Special Votes are counted) as this one. Asking himself, for example, why the numbers supporting cannabis law reform fell-off so sharply over the past three years. As a Labour politician, he might also be expected to query the influence of conservative organisations such as the Maxim Institute and Family First. Investigating, in passing, the influence of far-right American lobby-groups on the strategy and tactics of the “No’ campaign.

Most of all, however, Little might have been expected to factor-in the impact of the raw manipulation of public opinion by the NZ Medical Association. This latter factor is likely to have played a critical role in shaping the referendum result, influencing the choices of Gen-X and Baby-Boom voters over the course of the final, crucial, fortnight of the campaign.

Then, again, it is possible that Little’s own views on cannabis are sufficiently strong to preclude any attempt to interrogate dispassionately and forensically the referendum result. Interviews with Little when he was Leader of the Opposition strongly indicated a generally negative attitude towards cannabis law reform.

For many years, the impact of the drug on the mental health of a small percentage of younger users has raised one of the highest hurdles to legalisation. This is particularly true in the case of parents directly, or indirectly, affected by the problem. The argument that legalisation offers the best hope of bringing effective treatment to younger users adversely affected by cannabis, all-too-often leaves these folk unmoved. The contrast with the ‘No’ campaigners’ emotive “Will nobody think of the children!”, and “First, do no harm”, arguments could hardly be sharper.

A dispassionate analysis of the Cannabis Referendum result would not be complete, however, without referencing the curiously cerebral and, hence, rather pallid, character of the ‘Yes’ Campaign. From the outset, those favouring reform set out to anticipate and, hopefully, overcome the objections of their opponents. It was a touchingly rational approach which, almost by definition, was bound to fail.

For a start, the proposed legislation was so ringed around with health safeguards; and the regulatory framework erected to control users so stringent; that the ‘Yes’ Campaign ended up virtually reinforcing the ‘No’ campaigners’ case against legalisation. To focus upon limiting the potential harm of cannabis use is to pretty much concede the point that cannabis is harmful. This crucial concession allowed the ‘No’ Campaign to mount a propaganda effort based almost entirely on telling New Zealanders how harmful. No prizes for identifying which of these was the easier sell!

At no point did the ‘Yes’ campaign make the slightest attempt to “sell” cannabis on its own merits. There is a reason, after all, why generation after generation of human-beings – stretching back thousands of years – have used the drug. Like alcohol it is powerful mood-changer, but, unlike alcohol, cannabis soothes and relaxes its users, heightening all their five senses, and inducing feelings of almost biblical peace and goodwill. While booze makes people want to fuss and fight, dope makes them want to do something else than begins with F – and do it better!

That the ‘Yes’ Campaign refrained entirely from extolling the intrinsic virtues of cannabis tells us a great deal about how deeply ingrained the puritanical “anti-pleasure principle” remains in the New Zealand character. Ours is, after all, the country which, in 1919, came within a whisker of beating the United States to legislating nationwide alcohol prohibition. (It was only the votes of the soldiers returning from World War I that defeated the “wowsers”.) Kiwis above the age of 60 will recall the triennial “liquor polls” which, for 70 years, were held in conjunction with every general election. In these polls, voters were asked to choose between “Prohibition”, “Continuance”, and “State Purchase and Control”. They were only finally discontinued in 1989!

We’re a funny little country. How else to explain our willingness to vote in favour of people being allowed to seek medical assistance to escape a painful death, but against being allowed to use freely, and without the dubious assistance of ‘Big Pharma’, an easy-to-grow herb renowned for its analgesic and anti-nausea properties?

The irony, of course, is that even if the cannabis referendum had been won by “Yes”, Parliament itself could still have said “No”. Labour was pledged only to introducing the draft legislation which voters had been asked to consider. After that, it would be left to the tender mercies of the House of Representatives. There is absolutely no guarantee that the bill which eventually emerged from the select committee process, let alone from the Committee of the Whole House, would be worth voting for.

It was with this very real possibility in mind, that I was moved to dig out, from a box in the garage, a 1972 example of “underground” comic art exploring this very question. Namely,  what might happen “After Prohibition”

“Exploitation”, warned the artist, Gary Frutkoff, “might be just a toke away from legalisation.” Frame by frame, he went on to explain how “They” would “Fertilise and subsidize it, then package and manage it … obviously advertise and industrialise it … most likely truck it … and then all we’ll have to say is f**k it. Maybe it was better when we wouldn’t, shouldn’t and couldn’t.”

With the stern father-figure of Andrew Little, New Zealand’s Wowser-in-Chief, standing guard, it would appear that Cannabis Sativa’s yea-sayers are not going to be given any other choice.


*Chris Trotter has been writing and commenting professionally about New Zealand politics for more than 30 years. He writes a weekly column for interest.co.nz. His work may also be found at http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com.

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118 Comments

10
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Exactly. It will happen in time, we need a few more of the elderly stalwarts to fall of their perches and then it will get through.

I'd be more inclined to blame the religious and the dealers, myself

Did not think that there were Big Numbers of either of those groups within NZ!

Possibly should have included the just plain old anti-Greens vote to that. There are enough people with religious bent in this country to affect outcomes of things like this.

Responsible parents/grandparents are completely opposed

15
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And the parents/grandparents can celebrate by getting drunk and showing children that we are superior as we drink our drug in Aotearoa. A fresh batch of drink drivers, street fighters and wife bashers in the pipeline. Oh the hypocrisy.

We already have issues with alcohol to deal with. It just doesn't make sense at all to legalize Cannabis to make it as another issue people need to deal with. The funny thing is that no one treat alcohol as drug for decades, now because of this cannabis referendum, the supporters all start saying it's drug, start talking about comparing with cannabis, how bad is alcohol. lol

Alcohol is definitely a drug (see https://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/info/drug-index/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwufn8BRC...). In any event, playing semantics is pretty disingenuous when these discussions are about minimising public harm (supposedly).

The question I have is if we are so concerned about minimising drug harm, and given alcohol is the drug that causes the most harm, do you support prohibition of alcohol?

Government bangs on about smoke free NZ by 2025 but wanted to look to introduce another product to smoke.
Great result!

11
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Vape, edibles and pills. No need to smoke it if that is your big concern. Your lack of understanding the issue is showing.

Plenty do smoke it and plenty more would have started to also.
Great result!

Do you support alcohol prohibition OC?

Your lack of understanding is showing......
Review the results your viewpoint is in the minority.
The majority must have a lack of understanding?
Great result!

Do yo support alcohol prohibition OC?

Was that on the referendum voting paper? I missed that box

Way to dodge the question. If you feel that tingle in the back of your mind that's the hypocrisy alarm going off.

Most people would keep silent at that stage but you obviously think playing silly buggers is a better way to dull the ringing.

Actually I could not care less re alcohol prohibition. But the masses would.

Just answer the question, stop doing a "Jacinda"!

Can you not read.
If the masses voted for it that's fine with me. It would not impact me. That's why I could not care less.
Great Result!

Why can't you say "yes" or "no". Try growing a pair instead of being a coward like Jacinda.

Can you not accept someone not caring whether there was or there wasn't?
Its nothing to do with being a coward.
You are obviously very upset and emotional of being in the minority on this issue in NZ.
Sometimes this happens. I didn't vote for Cindy but I don't care that I was in the minority.
Great Result!

Do you drink alcohol OC?

a responsible parent would not want to see their children arrested and charged for this nonsense

Your in the minority of the population. Did you not understand the vote results?

The word is you're.

Who cares. Haha.
Great result!
You are in the minority if you voted Yes!

Just because you're the majority doesn't mean your position is logical or reasonable.

If you support the beheading of gay people you would be the majority in numerous Islamic countries, doesn't make it logical or reasonable.

Just because you followed the herd doesn't make a result great.

Each person voted individually and you were in the minority.
Shouting out at the those who were in the majority shows bad graces.
You seem quite emotional on this matter. It cabbages up the brain and makes you lack uncommon sense.
The country has spoken and the majority don't want it legalized.
Your herd statement can be applied to any narrative when you are on the loosing side.
Great Result!!!!

Do you drink alcohol OC?

No I had to give up as when I was younger too many women were taking advantage of me when I had a few drinks.

Figures you would find date rape funny. keep the comments coming as they show just what type of person you are.

Your the one telling the story buddy. You keep asking a question and you did not like the answer the same as the referendum.
You cant get so pushy with your views when you are in the minority. The majority of the country said NO!
It was a great result for NZ!!!

"There is a reason, after all, why generation after generation of human-beings – stretching back thousands of years – have used the drug."
Really? Compared with alcohol? I doubt it.

12
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Doubt what, that use has gone back thousands of years, or that there are reasons to use it.

Strange things to "doubt" given the factual evidence available.

Ok boomer https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/studies-words/facts-about-kaneh-bosem.htm

"Cannabis and hemp (a form of cannabis) are indigenous to the Middle East and was used for food, medicine and clothing for thousands of years in the Middle, Near and Far East. According to historical records the Indo-Iranian people introduced Cannabis (qunubu in their language) to the Assyrians, Scythians, Thracians and Dacians. The plant was also introduced to the Greeks and the historian Herodotus mentions it. Therefore, it is conceivable that the Hebrew people were familiar with this plant."

That could be why most middle-eastern states have been basket cases since the Polish knights sent them packing after the Muslims set out to conquer Vienna as the beginning of their attempt to conquer all of Christian Europe.

14
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Humans, and many animal species have sought out mind altering substances since time began, it is in our DNA, prohibition will not alter that, only mitigation is worth the effort. This result is a win for ignorance.

Which particular gene in our genome is responsible for my mind altering craving? I'll ask them to look out for it when I get my ancestry checked out.
I voted against it because:

1. It hasn't been proven to my satisfaction that smoking cannabis long-term is any less harmful to health than tobbaco.
2. It hasn't been proven to my satisfaction that it doesn't adversely affect driving ability.

The government has only said that they would liberalize recreational use if the referendum allowed it, because the tax take from cigarettes is falling away so fast, and they wish to find another source of revenue to tax by way of compensation.
It was actually Turiana Turea who introduced the phasing out of cigarettes (by 2025) because of the harm it does to Maori health. I would contend, in the absence of any contrary evidence, that smoking cannabis long-term is just as dangerous.
Incidently, Labour have broken the promise they made that there would be no more cigarette price hikes after the last whopping hike they made in 2017 just after coming into office. However, they did sneak another increase through just before the recent election. So a clear broken promise.

1. People are already smoking it long-term today.
2. People are already smoking and then driving it today.

Those issues can both be addressed by education programmes and addiction programmes, which generally have little funding at present, which would have been fixed by taxing cannabis.

We got the right result.. unless you want a dumbed down incoherent society. Dope would have disproportionately affected lower socio groups you mentioned above. And there would have been no controls on who would consume it including the very young, how could there be

17
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There are no controls now, it hasn't magically gone away, there were more controls proposed in that law than there is on alcohol. You are quite within your rights to go buy a still and distill alcohol to whatever proof you want. You can also grow opium poppies and datura. The hysteria around cannabis is illogical.

Give young children and young parents hope and not drugs. As human beings we're built with internal stimulants like dopamine so we have no need for externalz

No one is suggesting young children, or young patients should have cannabis.

At present there's nothing really stopping either from getting it however.

Clearly we do, as I said before we and some animals have sought mind altering substances since time began, it is in our DNA

Do you support alcohol prohibition FH?

whats the point other than trying to compare one vice with another. Do you drink coffee/tea HG?

15
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Evidence overseas shows in the medium term consumption drops. This is largely because the revenue from sales is used to fund rehabilitation and education programmes, which today are much much harder to access than weed itself is.

Evidence from Canada published on Election Day shows teenage usage has halved under their legalisation policy.

You always have good comments Lanthanide,

Just wondering, is the Canadian teenage usage halving directly attributable to the legislation?

There is a common theme amongst the younger generations of less partying, drinking, smoking, socializing basically, and it is mostly attributed to social media use and being poorer than previous generations, so said reduction in weed smoking was already underway perhaps?

Unless there is a before/after graph? I would assume the trajectory was already underway, and it is a fortuitous coincidence + the effects have been amplified?

I don't know, I haven't looked into it. Does it matter?

If usage has gone down, and substantially, then all of the "think of the children!" pearl clutching is unwarranted.

I think you'd have to draw a pretty long bow to suggest that a halving in people smoking dope at the same time legislation is put in place (which co-committant funding of education and rehabilitation campaigns) had nothing to do with the change in legislation and was just coincidence.

Fair call, if it was a 50% decrease at the time (or months since) of the legislation then its obviously clearly had an effect.

@ Lanthanide Evidence overseas shows in the medium term consumption drops. This is largely because the revenue from sales is used to fund rehabilitation and education programmes

That really is unmitigated twaddle. Cannabis was decriminalized in Canada on 17th Oct 2018 and the first reliable statistical data showing the consequences comes from the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS) 2019 see here Here are some highlights...

People between the ages of 16 to 24 years reported cannabis use in the past year at a percentage that was more than double that of those 25 years and older. Specifically, past 12-month use of cannabis among people aged 16 to 19 years and those aged 20 to 24 was 44% and 51%, respectively, compared to 21% for people aged 25 years and older, all increases from 2018 (36%, 44%, and 19%, respectively)

1 year is "short term".

Any other excuses? Consider the 16 to 19 year old consumption. Going from 36% to 44% doesn't sound like a huge jump but it's actually a 22% increase for that vulnerable age bracket. Given that we know cannabis consumption increases the likelihood of developing Schizophrenia later in life I would say decriminalisation in Canada is already a disaster!

It's not an 'excuse'. I specified said over the medium term. You haven't presented anything that disputes that.

When making technical comments it's important to get the facts right. ". . . consumption increases the likelihood of developing Schizophrenia later in life". is absolutely NOT correct. It may trigger Schizophrenia in those (a very small percentage of the general population) who are likely to display it's symptoms anyway. There is an argument that it is triggered earlier by cannabis consumption, but so far as I'm aware there jury is still out as research results are not clear.

Take your own advice. There are literally hundreds of peer reviewed papers, meta analyses, placebo controlled double blind studies and two longitudinal cohort studies looking at THC, and mental illness. The overwhelming majority say the same thing, and that is that there's a causal, and dose dependent relationship between cannabis use and the likelihood of developing Schizophrenia. If you think the jury is still out then you haven't properly searched the literature, so fire up scifinder scholar. If you don't have scifinder or reaxys then you're probably in no position to make any comment.

14
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It already affects these groups - it remains illegal, it doesn't make it go away.

They're already using it, it's already widespread. This is the most frustrating part, the naivety of people who assume it's not already being used regularly anyway.

Legalization was a chance to put some regulations in place to control it's supply. Teen use in countries post-legalization has declined so the 'think of the children' crowd pushing for continued prohibition are not supported by any international evidence to-date. If you have a look at what the medical experts were saying, all addiction health experts supported legalization as a harm-reduction measure. Instead, well-intentioned muppets thought we were voting for 'is the drug good or bad', when in reality the question was about how to most reduce harms associated with it by putting in some controls and oversight.

As a personal anecdote, having grown up in the north of NZ, I can confidently say it was MUCH easier to get cannabis as a teen than alcohol precisely because there is no regulation. We could literally go to one of the many 'tinny houses' that popped up time and time again before being busted (rinse and repeat) and buy it from the Mongrel Mob.

It's sad to see the best evidence rejected by politicians and myths like the above perpetrated.

I think this is the opening of the article isn't it? The Yes side of the debate pointing out the harm mitigation measures of the legislation. By raising that point, then the first impression is that we are looking at a harmful drug, therefore safer to vote No.

But it isn't, because No vote means there's almost nothing done to effectively mitigate and prevent that harm from occurring.

Clearly no drug is without harm, some are more harmful than others (alcohol / P). Now we have a system where there's no chance to reduce the harm at all. This is a massive opportunity lost in terms of health.

Actually teen use increased post decriminalisation in Canada which is intuitively obvious. In fact use across ALL age brackets increased. Here's the data https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/drugs-healt...

Your evidence is from only 1 single year after legalisation, which experts have been saying to expect an increase in the short term before it drops and generally ends up at a level below the previous usage, particularly for teenagers, due to better education programmes and addiction and early-intervention services becoming available thanks to the funding from the new tax revenue.

Consider two sets of contradictory data. One is reliable empirical data with a statistically significant sample size, and the other data is a purely speculative or hypothetical proposed by some hitherto unknown "expert". Which data should have more credibility?

Too late for that unfortunately. We've got an information super highway in our pockets and we're dumber than we've ever been.

I have to agree people have greater access to stupidity these days.

Andrew Little says he voted Yes, so not sure why you're painting him was a wowser.

Clearly statements from him when he was a leader was in an environment where National were in power with both Key and English espousing negative views and Labour scrabbling around for the circuit breaker that would bring them back to prominence - that turned out to be Jacinda, but trying to keep a low-profile policy platform on hot-button issues is a no brainer. They went so far as to remove euthanasia bills from the member's bill ballot saying they're be "a distraction" during election year - aka didn't want to scare the horses.

There is some irony in this outcome. If the referendum had not been presented then the Greens would now be in a position to lobby a likely receptive Labour Government to introduce the reform/ legislation. But the referendum result has stymied that now, and for some time forward. An example of being hoist by your own petard you might say.

Yip, it's very frustrating.

However without COVID happening, it's plausible that the referendum would have shored up Greens / left-wing turnout and therefore votes more than would otherwise have happened, helping to return Greens to power. It's likely there was at least some people who didn't bother to vote Labour / Greens because it's obvious they would win anyway (this seems to have been what really screwed Labour in 2002, where their final result was 10% less than what they'd been polling just 2 weeks before)

Yes agree, the referendum would have encouraged an increased presence that favoured the Greens, so something in that, but don’t agree that they are exactly back in power. Whatever it might be it is certainly diminished from their role(s) in the previous government.

I didn't word it very well. What I meant is that if COVID hadn't happened, the referendum would likely have increased Green's vote more than an election without the referendum, thus it would have helped the Greens get back into power, all things being equal.

However the universe we live in has COVID and we know how the election turned out as a result.

Just grow a few plants in your backyard. No one is going to arrest you for that.

I can't imagine why a 'If you vote no we can't be friends" campaign with M. Turei as the authoriser failed to woo undecided neutral voters in huge numbers.

What’s this curt dismissal nonsense. Andrew Little merely presented the facts that the yes vote lost and now it’s time move on.

Unlike poor little Chlöe who acted like a petulant little child throwing a tanty because she didn’t get her own way.

He went a step further and said there won't be any other changes including decriminilisation this term of Parliament, despite almost half the country voting for legalisation.

You've misrepresented Chloe more than David misrepresented Andrew.

With the numbers in the referendum a case for decriminalisation could surely be made. Would make a more common sense stepping stone for a lot of people too I would think.

The referendum wasn't about decriminalisation. Using it as proof of anything other than the thing that was asked is fake news

It's proof that 46% of the country want our current drug law for cannabis to change. How many who voted 'no' would vote yes to decriminalization is unknown.

It's very unlikely that people voting yes for legalisation would be vehemently opposed, if their choices were "decriminalization or nothing".

No but it gives a far better understanding of where people sit on an issue as opposed to any other legislation that gets passed without a referendum.

In 2023, parties can formally propose policies that signal their intentions. Until then, the people have spoken.

I'm sure the trendy woke of wellington would have been fine, enjoying a puff or two as they discussed black lives matter, pay inequality or other issue of the day they were working on. But wake up in the depressed hopeless miserable day of the lower end and all could see was an opportunity for another vice to be encouraged even further into their lives - and as happened with tobacco, pushing it into younger and younger markets.

My final vote was not my original choice.

"encouraged [...] into younger and younger markets"
except as mentioned above, legalisation in other contries has seen teenage use halve.

Sure mate...

That's what the evidence says.

When drugs can be legally purchased there is a lot less interest in them by teenagers. Rebelling works best when an activity is illegal.

do you think we should legalise shoplifting and teen voting... then maybe they won't want to steal and they won't want to vote because they actually don't want to vote except for a few noisy kids.

Does that mean that they go after much more dangerous drugs if cannabis is legalised? That sounds like a reason against legalisation.

Crikey Chris : wotcha been smoking , dude .... many of us non old , non conservative folk voted against the cannabis legislation simply because of the big lies being told .... endless ads on the radio extolling the need for medical marijuana .... which is not what the referendum was about .... big hairy fecking porkies which were plain for all to see ...

.... dont lie to the public , dont treat us like fools ....

A first step , the simple decriminalisation would have passed easily .... silly Greens ... silly Helen Clark .... we need the truth , and we need smaller steps toward full legalisation ....

All I want is for those suffering crippling pain to have access to medical marijuana as an alternative to conventional medications, without being gouged 500-1000 dollars a month...

... agreed 100 % .... but that wasn't what the referendum was about .... even though it was sold as such .... I'm all for affordable medical hooch , and for decriminalisation ....

I know that. But it would have given those suffering an avenue for affordable pain relief. It may have also pushed down the price of medical grade stuff, but we will never know.

... it was typical of the Greens to go too hard , too soon .... we didn't have nearly enough debate around the issue .... frankly , I'm disappointed , because they've cack handled it , and set back reforms .... and , as you say , we'll never know ....

The primary focus should have been the medical benefits and accessibility IMO.

Great result. Would have been a disaster in NZ we cant regulate anything or enforce laws.
I have a cousin in the US producing cannabis on a large scale at two locations. He does not retail it. But to his buyers Gangs are the biggest competition as they pay no state tax, payroll tax, medicare, federal tax, licensing, testing of THC levels and so on.
In the last 5 years its only increased. This idea that gangs would disappear is false. They would produce more potent product and not pay income tax and gst and acc and paye or any other licensing costs.

11
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I voted yes. Although I've never touched the thing in my life, I'm not naive enough to realise that a significant portion of the population will partake in cannabis regardless of its legal status.

If my children choose to consume cannabis, then I'd much rather they purchased it from a government approved organisation than some shady operation that's also selling a whole lot of stuff much worse for society than cannabis, and only too willing to encourage users to try it.

On top of that, there's the tax revenue and the data that we'd actually get about how prevalent cannabis use actually is that would come from it being supplied in a legal manner.

See comment above. If the illegal competition sells at 50% of the regulated product and at higher THC levels that tax revenue would not be great.
Just like food if a better product is cheaper elsewhere many will seek out the cheaper alternative. Police cant shut the illegal people down now so that would not change if it became regulated.

See comment above. If the illegal competition sells at 50% of the regulated product and at higher THC levels that tax revenue would not be great.

HUGE assumption there, because the simple reality is the vast majority of people choose to buy products from legal sources, because illegal sources are too much hassle, too hard to find, unregulated, etc etc etc.

Not always. Consumers value safe sources of food, hence NZ food exports command premiums over more dodgy food sources. Would you rather buy a steak from a NZ butcher or an unregulated, unrefrigerated Mongolian market?

Your suggested comparison means your name is appropriate.

Your ad hominen comment suggests you're not clever enough to devise a suitable rebuttal

... its -18 'c in Ulanbatoor this morning .... putting meat in a refrigerator would warm it up ....

OreoContrarian: I find the more you comment, the more disrespectful your comments become. When you started posting on this site, I found your ideas well considered and well-informed. Not at this stage.

Yeah let's keep the market 100% in the hands of the illegal competition. By keeping it illegal the gangs definitely won't make it more potent to get their clients addicted to higher highs so they can move them on to more potent drugs. By keeping it illegal the gangs will for sure start paying tax etc. Oh wait...keeping it illegal doesn't stop any of that. At least if it was legalised w/ the plethora of regulations proposed there was some chance that these negative effects of cannabis might have been mitigated.

I hadn't quite thought about it in those stark terms before: even if legislation ultimately failed to reduce harms, at least it has a chance of doing so. The status quo surely doesn't.

For all intents and purposes Cannabis is already legal in NZ.
When a Govt is going to allow the testing of hard drug contents at concerts to make sure they don't contain anything sinister there by giving the people the right to consume,then any law regarding cannabis consumption is superflous.

For all intents and purposes Cannabis is already legal in NZ.

But it isn't.

Tell that to people (overwhelmingly Maori) who get convictions for possessing small quantities, and the people who want to use it for medicinal purposes but can't afford the monthly cost, or can't find doctors to prescribe it to them.

All for a 'crime' that for the most part doesn't affect anyone else.

I think if Jacinda had come out in open support before the referendum instead of after the referendum then it would have been legalized plain and simple. She would have easily swung a couple of percent of the voters, possibly more. Its a great shame it was not legalised.

Yeah, pretty gutless call from Jacinda. Chloe called her out on her cowardice.

Good governance. She knew her potential impact. Her hands are clean.

Big assumption that because Cindy says so the masses will follow.
Perhaps people can think for themselves.
Great result!

... Jacinda has an avid following .... if she'd signalled her support for the cannabis legalisation ahead of the vote it wouldve swayed alot of vascilators ... we'd be deep in weed this morning ... far out , man !

Perhaps people can think for themselves.

Yeah, which explains why most of the 'no' campaign was misinformation or scare-mongering instead of a sensible discussion about facts and evidence.

A win for big alcohol & the gangs - thanks for keeping us safe you bunch of old farts that voted NO

and that is EXACTLY the attitude that resulted in a NO vote - you should thank your own arrogance and stupidity for it , along with that of Chloe.

I voted yes BTW.

personally it doesn't affect me as I'm too old to care about cannabis charges for the meagre amount that might sit in a drawer for very occasional use - what gets me is the utter hypocrisy from so called right wingers who espouse personal responsibility but do an about turn towards nanny state jackboots on this topic - mind your own business and keep your goons off my property.

I am surprised that the voting majority is against cannabis. In my personal experience, it is a drug, it is harmful etc. but countries that allow alcohol consumption, already allow a more deadly drug. It makes no sense. Surely the same precautions as for alcohol can be implemented to manage cannabis?
But the same way we do not celebrate alcoholism, we should not celebrate being constantly stoned. Many people would need coaching when they start these drugs so they can have a level of control over them. I wonder why it is better to learn using cannabis from other teenagers than in a lab supervised by professionals. Given you some information about your thresholds, how it affects you etc.

In any referendum notice should be taken of the number not voting. We do not yet know this relative to the cannabis question. By their apathy the non-voters support the status quo. If we add the number of non votes to the "no" vote the vote for the status quo will probably exceed the "yes" vote by a considerable margin, special votes or no.

Or you could say they didn't care either way, and therefore wouldn't mind if the law changed, or if it stayed the same. Or they may not have voted because they didn't feel informed enough, and wanted others to choose for them. Or because they thought it shouldn't have been a referendum, but instead the government should do the job they're elected to do.

There's a myriad of reasons someone may not have voted. So what should be done is their opinion ignored because they didn't voice it, not magically lumped into one side of the argument because it supports the argument of whoever is suggesting it.