What has happened to the West, ignoring the lessons of history? Sweden, for example, long regarded as one of the most ‘progressive’ Western countries, legalised cannabis usage in the 1960s. Twenty years later, this country made it illegal again. Shouldn’t we ask why?
Both Australia and New Zealand are under attack by activists’ damaging proposals – either initiated by agenda-driven politicians or by highly vocal and therefore influential activists claiming their anti-conservative, radicalised directions are a superior way forward. Really?
A comparison between Holland and Sweden shows the results of two divergent approaches to drugs, especially cannabis, which in the Sixties and Seventies was the primary drug of choice after alcohol. Holland partially decriminalised cannabis use in 1976, leading to an increase in use over time and de facto legalisation in law enforcement and court rulings. Subsequent studies showed the lifetime cannabis use of Dutch 18 to 20-year-olds increasing, despite the intention of the policy to separate hard and soft drug markets. Holland’s softness on this supposedly least-damaging drug led to it becoming the world capital for producing ecstasy and methamphetamine, and the major trans-shipping point for heroin. Lighter sentences made policing more difficult due to liberal surveillance laws. The cannabis smokers’ heaven, Holland, became the hub for hard-drug traffickers looking to globalise their operation.
Sweden started down a similar track in the Sixties when legalised heroin prescribing and weak enforcement of cannabis laws led to widespread use. However, as a consequence of the effects of rampant drug use, the Swedes implemented widespread changes creating a three-part approach based on intelligent laws and policing, well-supported, well-funded treatment and comprehensive education. Agencies involved with at-risk youth worked together to prevent drug use – not just minimise its harm. Swedish marijuana laws are some of the harshest in Europe, the country totally banning all possession, sale and cultivation of cannabis, including medical marijuana, with few exceptions. There is very little distinction made between cannabis and harder drugs, with prosecution enforced to the fullest extent of the law. It now has possibly the lowest levels of drug use in the Western world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
In contrast, New Zealand’s adoption of the failed policy of harm minimisation, largely derived from the Australian experiment, became mainstream thinking, a disaster from a usage point of view. Poor funding of drug treatment and mental health facilities in general in this country, together with a non-integrated approach, has led to critical levels of drug use, both in cannabis and in the extraordinarily widespread use of amphetamine.
Both our counties are now at a crossroads in regard to issues fraught with moral as well as social implications. With an October election looming, New Zealanders are faced with saying yes or no to three radical, destructive pieces of legislation being promoted by the usual suspects. Tellingly, they did not arise because of a majority clamouring for the legalisation of cannabis. Nor did New Zealanders call for euthanasia – nor, with all its attendant horrors, for even more permissive legislation allowing babies to be killed right up until birth.
Our radical Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern uses the Covid-19 scare to centre-stage her electioneering on an almost daily basis, with the help of predominantly left-wing, adulatory media – while delaying removing the lockdown edicts economically crippling the country. Ardern is strongly for both euthanasia and increased abortion access – further moves towards the culture of death. She has voted against allowing doctors to help any aborted baby born alive – a decision repugnant to most New Zealanders. Few would doubt her preference with regard to legalising cannabis.
What of the warnings from those dealing with the consequences of decriminalisation of cannabis elsewhere? In Colorado, for example, high use and addiction rates have increased due to easy accessibility and led to concern about the significant health effects on youth of chronic marijuana use. Difficulties in establishing what a legal marijuana operation is create problems conducting investigations into search and seizure. Illegal black market trading has not decreased. After all, as noted elsewhere, if a licit market is created we should expect product design, marketing and pricing to be geared to creating as much addiction as possible.
Detecting driving under the influence of marijuana is highly challenging. Not only is there no roadside test for marijuana intoxication, but developing one is fraught with complications including – as Chris Cahill, president of the New Zealand Police Association points out – taking a blood test. Chronic users can test positive even after 30 days of abstinence, with variables in cannabis strength depending on whether it was inhaled or consumed – or mixed with alcohol. Understanding of impairments due to drug consumption is limited. Moreover, if cannabis is decriminalised, then police, doctors, ambulance drivers, pilots, air traffic controllers – and others in a special relationship with the public – presumably could not possibly be prosecuted for working under its influence. However, as Cahill has noted, as far as the police are concerned, ‘the consequences of THC being detected in the drug test following a critical incident such as a police shooting are extremely serious for us…’.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that we need a reform of our political systems to prevent self-willed leaders and political oligarchies consistently imposing top-down legislation on both our countries. Across the Tasman, activists are apparently achieving the same results, little by little wearing down the resistance of a weary public. The Australian Capital Territory, for example, has already ‘liberalised’ possession of cannabis. And in the troubled state of Victoria, now apparently virtually ruled by one man with his foolish and domineering modus operandi, an assisted suicide scheme has been in place since June 2019. A similar scheme will take effect in Western Australia mid-2021. Other states have to date held out, with euthanasia and assisted suicide illegal in all other Australian states and territories. So far…
If, as countries based on Judeo-Christian value, we are now comprehensively under attack, isn’t it time we took on board the reality of what we are fighting?
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