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Of politics and things...

Today’s blog is not specifically regarding antiques, collectables but perhaps, in my mind anyway, a curiosity. New Zealand is less than a month away from going to the polls and apart from voting for the political candidate you regard as the least inept, there are two other votes which I think overshadow the decision about which party or parties will hold power for the next three years. I use the term “hold power” rather than any kinder words suggesting leadership, because I believe we see less leadership than power-plays. However again, this isn’t about the assigning of power to either party.

I want to focus on the two referendum questions – the “End of Life” choice and the “Cannabis legalisation and control” choice. I initially set the order in this way for two reasons – the first topic is a simple choice by comparison to the second (again in my opinion) but also because when I, or you, search New Zealand referendum questions on Google, the first five options all point the reader to cannabis – I like to try and balance that in my own small way. So… should we have the choice of when to end our life – within the criteria of medical certainty etc – very much a personal choice for each of us? Having attended to one of my parents in the end stages of cancer I consider myself biased by that experience and my vote will be a result of that.

But now let’s look at this Cannabis question – this really interests me – not for the question so much as for the politicising of the question. Like many (if not a majority) of people who were teenagers in the 60’s and lived through the birth of the “hippie counter-culture” cannabis was experimented with. For me personally it was a short-lived experiment – I didn’t feel particularly comfortable with the level of disinhibition it brought to the surface – quite different to being alcohol intoxicated (for me anyway). So I acknowledge this to avoid being a hypocrite when I now challenge the parameters of the proposed legislation. I make this challenge not so much based on my own experimentation but on the scientific work that has occurred in the years since then.

Research proves, categorically that the human brain isn’t fully matured until the mid to late 20’s – for all of us. We all cope remarkably well as it matures but the maturity time is as much a fact as the sun rising every morning. The second scientific fact is that cannabis is proven top change the organic development of the brain if it is present in the system prior to that full maturation. Now I can almost hear a chorus of “So what” “Big deal” – well actually I believe it is a big deal. If we accept that the human brain can have its physical structure altered by a drug, when used before the brain is fully mature, why would we legalise and promote the use from age 20. We have a really serious issue with substance abuse in this country as it is, and politicians like Chloe Swarbrick pontificate on legalisation somehow being a miracle answer to that. I call “Nonsense” on that (actually I use a less socially acceptable term). This isn’t about it being a “gateway” drug, hell methamphetamine is cheaper and more readily available, unfortunately. This is about a Government abdicating the ‘leadership’ role and putting decision which may lead to legalisation in the hands of the sometimes poorly informed. It may save the political career of this woman who is a self-described politician and entrepreneur come polling day, and give more opportunity to being photographed, but at what cost to our youth?

Not only do I see the Government failing in anything like leadership but advocates for the legalisation such as the bill promoter, Chloe Swarbrick, cloud the issue by suggesting sales of ridiculous daily limits of 14 grams of cannabis per day per customer. This is a diversion whereby the legalisation may well be supported if the daily limit is reduced – but few would ever be able to afford that amount anyway. My point is simple – if the human brain is susceptible to organic change induced by chemicals such as found in cannabis, then why would we willingly, nay cynically, expose our future generations to this, more than it is already happening. Legalisation will not lead to control, it will lead to complacency and the belief that the problem is being addressed. Actually the gang controlled drug trade has already moved on to the likes of methamphetamine – they won’t stop just because the Government may legalise and tax cannabis – they will simply up their game and what of our young people then? What legacy are we going to leave our future generations? Is it fair to throw up our hands and say stopping drug abuse is too hard, let’s legalise instead?

Our parents, grandparents and even further back, had difficult decisions to make and generally showed strength and determination. They worked and crafted a better future for each generation that followed. Should we do any less?

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