INDEPENDENT NEWS

Police Testilying with Farcical "Drug Harm Index"

Published: Tue 2 Dec 2008 11:24 AM
Media release: MildGreens - Police Testilying with Farcical "Drug Harm Index"
As anticipated, the MildGreens policy analysts expected the Police use circular costing and 'association with crime' to inflate both cannabis harms and to confound related drug issues. What is gravely concerning is this is completely at odds with the evidence Police gave to the (then National led) Health Select Committee in 1998 and subsequently when pressured to tell the truth and stop justifying cannabis enforcement by making its 'criminogenic' attributes up, stating only 'when returning to represent' that the NZ Police had no real objection to decriminalisation. While this is all a matter of record, hell will freeze over before any politician will have the courage to challenge the thin blue line, or anyone of consequence within Police heirachy will speak of anything but the ruling paradigm.
Curiously, while Police management rush to explain, "we cannot speak outside our legislative brief' they do so most every day waxing on about the evils "P" and make a contribution both positive and negative (valid or otherwise) to the alcohol debate.
On December 1st, the following POLICE media release is very forthright on what good boys they are at cannabis recovery. see
http://www.police.govt.nz/news/release/4518.html and as reported in Nelson Mail (and thus Internet) http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/nelsonmail/4778606a6417.html
In this the Police assert that they have found a number of plants that purportedly belong to a few people that they arrested for each causing an average of about 1.7million dollars of public harm. This, when viewed against peer reviewed evidence is without any foundation as 350,000 cannabis consuming New Zealander's will readily attest.
What the NZ Police National Drug Intelligence will not tell anyone is "the prevalence of and association with Methamphetamine, Firearms and stolen property are functions of the prohibition policy they exact", and nothing to do with the pharmacology of cannabis.
Equating social harms by the inclusion of the Police 'expenditure' on stamping out the national weed culture is no testimony to Policing efficiency... The BERL prepared report (prepared under instructions by the Police) is according to one Police spokesperson a very useful resource for arguing for more resources, which make the latest media release all the more cynical.
Further, this media release demonstrates the futility of chasing down every last cannabis plant in the country as if it made a skerrit of difference to availability.
This 'interdiction' is lip service to harm reduction, the stated goals of NZ's National Drug Policy. The evidence suggests it is counter productive. In fiscal terms, according to Ray Kendal (Interpol) by a factor of as much as seven to one. Which all goes to make an 'absurdity' of the police calculated cost of more than $30,000 of purported social harm per national conviction
To fine someone probably less than $500 plus costs, many of whom according to the disproportionate demograph targeting by Police are often unable to pay is designed to send a signal.. to whom? The 95% of cannabis smokers whom will never come to the attention of the police anyway? People who would never smoke pot anyway? Who dammit ? National Police Headquarters or the Drug Intelligence analysts must have a measure of who is listening surely?
There is NO evidence that cannabis social harms can be assessed at the Police declared $11,000 plus per kilogram Such inflated perceptions reflect badly upon the force and the work that it does. While the Health Select Committee reports (x2) and the up and coming comprehensive review of the drug laws will be instructive to future policy, there is nothing in this Police "backslappin spin" that can redeem them as valued contributors to informed debate.
"They have a conflict interest, entirely vested in securing and maintaining future operational potentials", Police should discount themselves from the 'policy discussions' according to Christchurch reformers.
Whereas cannabis itself is neither criminogenic nor again according to evidence before the select committees, as harmful as many would have us believe, it has escaped those who are sworn to uphold 'the truth' before both the court of public opinion and those of Justice, preferring instead to foster a climate of malice and malcontent to perpetuate self interest in their drug war budgets.
Cannabis is a safer drug than aspirin and can be used long-term without serious side effects, says a book by a leading Oxford scientist.
The Science of Marijuana, by Dr Leslie Iversen of Oxford University's department of pharmacology, found many "myths" surrounding marijuana use, such as extreme addictiveness, or links with mental illness or infertility are not supported by science. He also found cannabis is an inherently "safe drug" which does not lead to cancer, infertility, brain damage or mental illness. The author, a fellow of the prestigious Royal Society, found cannabis was far less toxic than other drugs and had "an impressive record" compared with heroin, cocaine or tobacco and alcohol.
Afghanistan it seems is not the only expensive an immoral war NZ'ers should be out of. The difference of course is obvious... here, the targets are not enemy's of the US, it is us they are after, and unlike uniformed combatants, the exacter of the rules of engagement (who profile, select, define and arbitrate who enters the criminal gateway) are civilians in blue uniforms who conscript the help of our neighbors in a delusional belief it is God's work.
This moral crusade in the guise of law and all its racist, ageist, sexist self-serving agents are accomplishing the logical equivalent of the indiscriminate bombing of our own families.
No other public health policy carries with it the draconian sanction of the state that deprives individuals of a legitimate therapeutic resource (medicine), money (fines), property (forfeiture) and liberty (prison). It is an arbitrary sanction conducted by Poice under the Warrant of Minister of Health that attacks the very core of the individual by removal of self will, self determination, the right to the pursuit of happiness and in so doing is creating a wake of fears and phobia's where there should be none.
The Police are creating a major Health Problem.
These policy tensions are contrary to best practice baseline kiwi disability law (if people are sick how can they be criminal?) but could be resolved by our restorative disability innovation "no decision about us without us". It is immorral and poor public health to both disenfranchise and put labels on those whom the policy is intended to directly affect.
The later is curiously the 'core of the human rights issue' behind the Beyond2008 recomendations UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session ) 10 year review of drug policy heavily contributed to by our own NGO's conducted under the aegis of the Ministry of Health in February and later in Vienna in July of this year.
If, in a biopsychosocial analysis, blanket prohibition is found to be dangerously deviancy amplifying, socially marginalising and fostering alienation from rule of law thus creating the very mess it set out to solve then one could reliably conclude the Drug Harm Index is both 'state propaganda' AND a lie.
If in the expenditure underpinning ineffectual enforcement it takes resources away from the good work that needs to be done, the prohibiting of cannabis truly is 'in application' a double edged sword. "But again the Ottawa Charter guides us as to how to sort that out too... There is nothing difficult in fixing what is broken, we just have to put a stop to the Police lying to the Public." says Blair Anderson, who is at pains to point out, the Police are just not allowed to do that.
It is time in drug policy to measure and account the unintended consequences of prohibition and apply some basic health principles and common sense to the upcoming due process. (see why 513 Professors of Economics agree http://www.prohibitioncosts.org )
Only then will the New Zealand Police cease looking silly. In the interim, it may pay Police to be more circumspect until the Law Commission releases its 'issue paper' next year. Unless it was their deliberate intent to obfuscate that due process.
As those archdeacons of cannabis culture, Cheech and Chong, once said...."it looks like dog sh*t, smells like dog sh*t, tastes like dog sh*t... must be dog sh*t."
ENDS
http://mildgreens.blogspot.com

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