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Kiwis Say Yes Let’s Decriminalise Soft Drugs


Wednesday 22 May, 2013

Kiwis Say Yes Let’s Decriminalise Soft Drugs On Tv3’s ‘the Vote’

New Zealanders voted Yes to the moot ‘Let’s Decriminalise Soft Drugs’ during national debate programme The Vote, which screened tonight on TV3. ‘Soft drugs’ referred to cannabis and synthetic cannabis.

Guyon Espiner and the Affirmative team were declared the winners of the debate at the end of the hour-long show with the votes tallied at 72% YES, 28% NO.

Viewers voted from around the country and overseas. During the broadcast #thevotenz trended at #1 in New Zealand, and #2 Worldwide on Twitter.

The debate saw the ‘legal highs’ industry controversially admit that their synthetic products are more dangerous than ordinary cannabis – and advise: “If you want to get rid of synthetic cannabis, the best way is to decriminalise natural cannabis.”

The comments were made by industry representative Grant A Hall, the General Manager of The Star Trust during the debate.

Hall was asked by referee Linda Clark: “Do you accept that natural, 100 percent cannabis is a safer product than the stuff you’re peddling?”

He replied: “Yes I do.”

Hall went on to say: “Well, look the argument tonight’s about decriminalisation but I’ll tell you this. If you want to get rid of synthetic cannabis, the best way is to decriminalise natural cannabis. Listen, it’s a very good question. How big are the synthetic cannabis problems they have in California? None. What about Colorado? None. What about Washington? None. Do you know why? Because they decriminalised.”

‘King of legal highs’ Matt Bowden, also made an appearance on the programme, and revealed plans to manufacture a new range of synthetic legal highs.

“I’m setting up a new type of pharmaceutical company where we’re going to be creating drug alternatives to draw people away from the more dangerous drugs like methamphetamine, your alcohol, your heroin – drugs which kill and are addictive,” he said.

“We’re going to look to develop safer drug alternatives which are not addictive, won’t kill people, don’t cause brain damage, put them through proper safety testing and then the money that comes into that pharmaceutical company will go into rehabs, further research and restoration technology to help people that have fried their brain a little bit on alcohol and other dangerous drugs – to help get their heads back together.”

Associate Minister of Health, the Hon Peter Dunne appeared LIVE at the end of the programme, and reacted to the results of the public vote, saying the Government has no intention to change the legal status of cannabis, and was focused on the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

Viewer votes:

77% YES
23% NO
68% YES
32% NO
72% YES
28% NO
71% YES
29% NO
72% YES
28% NO

The theatre audience voted before and after the debate. The results are:

Theatre audience vote – prior to debate
Theatre audience vote – end of debate
55% YES
26% NO
70% YES
27 % NO

Tonight’s episode of The Vote saw Guyon lead a team arguing FOR decriminalisation. He was joined by Ross Bell, Executive Director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation; Grant A Hall, General Manager of The Star Trust, which represents the 'legal highs' industry in New Zealand; and Dr Jeremy McMinn, Consultant Psychiatrist Addiction Specialist and Clinical Senior Lecturer in Alcohol & Drug Disorders for the University of Otago.

Duncan headed a team arguing AGAINST decriminalisation, with Timaru Mayor Janie Annear; MP for Northland, and one of the country’s foremost authorities on matters related to methamphetamine and drug policy, Mike Sabin; and Porirua City Councillor and community worker Fa'amatuainu Wayne Poutoa.


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