Open Letter To Delamere Re: Cannabis
Te Tai Tonga,
Open letter to the Office of Hon Tuariki
Associate Health Minister.
Your media release called on Mr Delamere's Parliamentary colleagues to get serious in the battle to combat the ill health effects of tobacco smoking. (see: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA9909/S00552.htm)
I wish to take up Mr Delamere's challenge...
I would applaud Mr Delamere's sentiment to reduce the harms from tobbacco if they were substantial and not "vote grabbing populism" 60 days from an election.
For solutions beyond the desire to see "accounting for wrongs", we need to progress and get honest about fixing what is broke. It is time for the pragmatic questions and the holistic examination for solutions to future map the desired end goal states that are acceptable to the community.
Mr Delamere, while refreshingly honest about the cannabis issue before the United Nations General Assembly, seemingly has become a tad forgetful of the hypocritical promotion and consumption of Alcohol and Tobacco and the "the double standards" regarding cannabis, identified by majority lead select committee as an impediment to community health messages. The minister has since failed to acknowedge that he had described alienation from rule of law, a point not so easily excusable. Now we have an intellectual impediment to credible drug education.
The issue on cannabis, alcohol and tobacco is not about sueing someone, Mr Delamere, it's about protecting the community and minimising harm.
This requires a public and scientific debate on re-examination of the policy of zero tolerance and attendent alienation, versus a legal, regulated market free of stigma, isolation, and misconceptions, a market with health protection, promotion and self-help intervention accessibility funded by diversion of resources, shown to be 7 times more cost effective.
Jenny Shipley promised, and even budgeted to do this analysis. The house knows it. Multiple ALCP submissions highlighted it. (Crimes Publications/Liquor Age/Mental Health)
There appears to be a community need and evidentially a political will to taking the steps that will allow all our people make make informed life choices, be it Alcohol Tobacco or Cannabis... clearly the three drugs of choice for the majority of New Zealanders.
The Beer barons have attributed displacement of alcohol in the market share to the widespread use of cannabis. Evidence suggests these linkages across supply and demand curves have "net social benefits" to the community, and while some express fear that use of cannabis may increase, we must also be aware that it may also be displacing other harms.
We must learn to examine the wider issues, and not seek to pass more anomolous legislation, or distract from the principle goal of reducing misuse and abuse, and accepting moderation without prejudice.
Tobacco is accredited with an addiction propensity comparable to high grade narcotics. We are experiencing record tobacco and cannabis uptake in juvenile demographs, this is a time bomb.. and points to "serious flaws" in the current community protection paradigms of misdirected and ineffectual intervention efforts euphamisticaly called "sending messages".
Alcohol in the youth demograph is showing similar potential for harms, although as a social poison rather than a slow acting carcinogen. No one would suggest the universal withdrawal of alcohol and reversion to the "killings and muggings" of 30's style prohibition. (who is counting the cannabis prohibition bodybags..?? anyone. )
Tobacco and Alcohol might be legal but there are important linkages to the cannabis issue. (see: ALCP select cmte recommendations http://www.alcp.org.nz/press.htm)
Taxing an addiction puts artificial red lines the "Marks Anderson" demand curve. (Cannabis Management, Carterton Hui 99) It is soon circumvented, as is all prohibition. Black market tobacco is widely available, with no controls on consumer age. Hard liquor "stills" abound in garages all over the country, no one is "narc'ing" on them. Its not illegal to grow your own tobacco, and nor should it be. However, Cannabis is now so lucrative due to prohibition that society finds it is "legally encouraged" into energy intensive conditions, in thousands of grow rooms, accross New Zealand enabling wide consumer choice and 365/7/24 delivery and supply.
DARE and other intervention protocols teaching cannabis harms has proven to be ineffectual, and elevates the perception that cannabis is in common usage among peers and thereby leads to earlier uptake, inprudent usage, and maximizes risk of misuse and abuse. Juviniles dont believe the present cannabis message. They dont believe the alcohol message, They dont believe the smoking message. The only person it protects is the person who wouldnt "use" anyway. Now, what if we need to tell this demograph a health intervention message, like dont share joints, (a mengococcal meningitis infection pathway.) Who are you going to call?
Mr Delamere is challenged to remove the highly indicated impediment to drug education (Health Select Cmte recomendation x2) and support the call for a review of the cannabis laws in the house before it rises. It is time to delineate who is serious about resolving the debate. ( and I don't care if it brings down the government! )
So advance the debate Mr Delamere.
Ask how long must we play politicaly safe with an applied racial bias evidenced in recent police perceptions survey, enforcing a law so transparently in disrepute, masking mental health outcomes with criminal sanctions
How long has it been good economics to consider building prisons instead of hospitals as "closer to home" regionally enhancing and community profitable assets. Or explain how government presides over a pervasively racially biased incarceration rate, second only to the USA, yet fails to meet basic equity in health intervention criteria in South Auckland and Northland.
How long before we call it apartheid. ?
National's Police Minister presides over 923,000 manhours per year ( equiv. to about 2000 police) maintaining cannabis prohibition counterproductively Mr Delamere. Obligation to the Ottawa Charter and Tiriti O Waitangi demands examination of cost/benefit of this policy, as its not the value, or the expendature that is being questioned - its how we measure the societal harms we manifest from this aberation.
Amnesty International is calling the American drug war to account, so should we. It is counter productive, wrong, racist and sexist and you know by your own words, in understanding masking the harms and exacerbating juvinile tobacco and alcohol uptake. ("....and you can't really blame them", 10jun98)
Mr Delamere knows that Maori women are at the highest risk from tobacco harms. With dignity and respect these harms can be reduced. Take away the impediment to dignity and respect. Take away the "untold heartache", the racially applied "prohibition laws" and allow all people to "reap the benefits" of prosperity through truth, freedom and harm minimisation and enable the applied skills in the environmental, industrial and medical hemp industry. The Crown Public Health and the Ministry can then send credible health messages, and the Police may loose some of that "bad blood" thats going around.
Anita Rodick's Video "the emperor of hemp", provides a vision statement for a world that removed the impediments to the benefits of hemp and its enormous capacity to change the planet forever.. Doyen of business and an environmental role model, (Anita owns the global 'never tested on animals' Body Shop chain,) Anita acknowledged earlier this year that just eight products out of 20,000 in her global sales brief comprise 10% of the gross sales revenue. All eight are extracted from the versatile cannabis plant.
I am sure all women would appreciate the powerful words within. The hero is a soldier, a warrior pacifist. I should highly commend it to the Ministry of Education as well. It makes more sense in drug education than 'this is your brain' fried eggs imports from the Luois Freeh, Clinton and McCafery cabal.
Ironically, it was woman that broke the back of alcohol prohibition, passionate about the injustice to men. Anita's script leaves one with the impression that it much better to change our attitude and advance our education than legislate morality in society, and cease disturbing the natural order of justice and respect.
Women are also predisposed to arthritis, and as it is Arthritis Week. As the Associate Health Minister, you might like the challenge of explaining away the effacious benefits of cannabis, long renowned as an anti-inflammatory and pain control with "quality of life" health attributes when eaten (harmlessly), drunk as a tea, or smoked for its more instantaneous benefit. Emerging nuclear science indicates arthritis is closely linked to immunological pathways and free radical "cell communications"... and THC appears to be active in moderating these pathways. ( My readings on Assoc. Prof. Robert Malamede work suggest that medicine at individual hetergeniety is constrained if people do not have the right to choose what is right for them... and we should study those for whom cannabis works as we can now define the benefits on a molecular biochemical level, allowing others to benefit from fact rather than anecdote. Our laws are in the way of good medicine.)
In conclusion, it is quite obvious that cannabinoids constitute an important class of immune modulators. Their ability to promote a Th2 immune deviation can be of benefit for a large group of people who suffer from diseases that are due to an inappropriate Th1 excess. On the other hand, harm from the use of cannabinoid based medications are probably contraindicated from diseases that are base on Th2 excesses. The general apparent safety of this class of drugs (92), relative to most prescription drugs that are routinely used, suggests that they should be made readily available to those who can benefit from their use. / Bob Malamede
The medical argument is won. Australian states are making interim decisions to aleviate the immediate risks to patients now. But in New Zealand Cannabis medicinal benefits are presently denied to all but those willing to risk and sustain a criminal conviction.
How long must society endure a source of medicine available in a "dangerous black market" predisposed to home invasion and robbery of those to whom legal "pain relief" prescription drugs represent a personal security risk.
Since your a recent fringe lawyer so keen on legal recourse what say you on Neville Yates, amputee, and serving nine months, (appealed from 15months). Do you, like MP Gerry Brownlee say he committed a criminal offense and should be in jail for his nine convictions for medical cannabis? Do you think his medical prognosis is enhanced by this health intervention? Do you think he will survive the beatings in jail? If so do you think his mental health will be better for the experience?. Do you think he is likely to "reoffend"? Do you think he sets a poor example to other sickness beneficiaries? Do think it is good science/economics to incarcerate Neville so that there is plenty of employment opportunities in penal and mental health?
Or Mr Delamere, do you think incarceration as a health intervention makes the state liable for unconcionable harms rendered needlessly upon our citizenary.?
Fixing these legal anomolies makes more sense than importing the American paradigm "to sue" the tobacco companies.. (perhaps some legal advisor may not yet have considered governments exposure to liability and recourse on the refunding of ill-gotten excise/duty taxes garnered from tobacco purchasers, if it were to open this can of worms)
Mr Delamere, we CAN fix whats wrong.
New Zealanders can make money out of medical, horticultural and industrial research, benefiting the knowledge economy and saving the planet. At the same time, please a lot of sick people, make the insurance companies happy, give the police a holiday, save some money, fix the ozone hole and earn some political points while I get a lot of my brown friends back, and interestingly, you can do it all at the same time with the same jump along the policy analytic approach.
One concience vote, stop the arrests and free Neville Yates, expunge his record and all like him and its done.
We, as a nation have long been social navigators. It has come time again, for it is by these small steps for mankind that we measure our progress as a civilization.
Resolve the debate Mr Delamere and insist your collegues get real serious "on this smoking issue".
Cheers, Blair Anderson.
Te Tai Tonga