Tuesday, September 27, 2011

AN OPEN LETTER TO JOHN BANKS

Dear John ... you and I go back on long way. Your very generous financial support of the Ex-Vietnam Veterans Association (Neville Wallace Memorial) Children's & Grandchildren's Trust signals you out as a special person for whom actions speak louder than words.

Sure people either love you or hate you. There is not much middle ground for someone who can be characterised as a 'conviction' politician. In John Banks the public see what they get and get what they see. Far better that than someone who is as shallow as a birdbath.

Yes, I was gutted when you left National for ACT but accept that you did this for the very best of motives so as to ensure that ACT remained in parliament as part of a responsible centre/right government. As ACT's Epsom candidate you represent their only lifeline to maintaining a parliamentary presence.

Leaders of political parties weld real power in determining policy direction. Sure there is process to go through but you and I both know the reality is that if a leader is in favour of doing something, nine times out of ten it will happen.

So it took real balls for you to stand up to Don Brash, the man who gave you an armchair ride into Epsom, and effectively tell him to go f**k himself over his 'musings'. You, more than most, know the insidious nature of drugs and we both know that if any serious drug user were to claim that they never started out on their road to destruction by smoking a few joints, then they are a liar as well as a fool.

We both recognise too that any attempt to link the debate to the one involving the freedom to purchase alcohol is but a straw man argument.

Congratulations John (and John Key too) for standing firm and refusing to raise the white flag on the war on drugs. There are no easy answers and certainly no soft options.

With kind regards and best wishes.

The Veteran



10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"We both recognise too that any attempt to link the debate to the one involving the freedom to purchase alcohol is but a straw man argument."

Yet we can't explain why we think this. Perhaps it has something to do with brewery donations and lobbying. Who knows?

The Veteran said...

Anonymous 7.46 ... you can't leverage off the fact that alcohol is legal in most civilised countries as an argument for decrimalising cannabis possession.

Over indulgence in alcohol has horrendous consequenses and people pay the price for that.

But drugs are more incidious and there is always the temptation to try for the next 'high'.

Why then should we open the door.

Right up there on the scale of dumb, dumber and dumbest.

James Stephenson said...

Vet - the only things I can spot that are dumb are:

1) Believing that we should continue with a Cannabis policy that is failing and expecting a different result in future and

2) John Banks being in the ACT party. To be honest, he's the major obstacle preventing me giving them my party vote again (and it's never been placed anywhere else since I've been here) he should either bugger off back to National or go and join Colin Craig.

I haven't heard anyone from John Key down articulate anything like a logical reason why we shouldn't decriminalise personal possiession whilst retaining the prohibition on supply. IMO forcing someone who wants a relatively harmless toke to interact with a source of supply where they're exposed to far more harmful substances that is the problem "gateway".

Make it legal for anyone to have a couple of plants in their garden and be done with it.

The Veteran said...

Sorry James ... we agree to disagree and that's our privilege.

Your take on a 'toke' as "harmless" is certainly a matter of debate with the weight of responsible opinion not necessarily in your corner.

Tinman said...

I question the argument that addicts start with a few tokes on the way to serious addiction.

I don't question the fact, just the argument.

I have known many people over the years who have used weed the way I use a glass of wine.

Every one of those people have been hard working, responsible members of society who either do not like the taste of alcohol or prefer not to risk it's consequences health-wise.

I have no doubt that hard drug addicts do start with cannibis but suspect the percentage of users who do go on to bigger and brighter things is very small and that if possession of small amounts and a limited number of plants was made legal and acceptable that percentage would diminish further due to there being one less reason for the weak ones to be associated with the criminal classes that deal in the harder stuff.

James Stephenson said...

Relatively, Vet the qualifier was relatively and certainly compared to alcohol (which is my drug of choice these days) the harm cannabis causes is hardly ever directed anywhere but the user - Dim-Post had the Lancet's drug harm index posted the other day and I think that's about as responsible an opinion as you'll get.

Go back to the Euro 2000 football championships and compare the behaviour of English fans in Belgium (on the beer) and Amsterdam (on Cannabis).

I'm not advocating across-the-board legalisation of all drugs, just usggesting that the sensible place to draw the line is the other side of Cannbis from where it is at the moment.

The Veteran said...

James ... I can understand where you are coming from but clearly we agree to disagree.

But aside from all of this, the reality is that Party disunity is a receipe for political disaster.

I suspect Brash's 'musings' will come back to haunt him.

Anonymous said...

veteran the party is rooted and it was before the latest brash brain fart and bosco throwing his toys out of the cot

WorkerB said...

I would like to think that maybe we could "close the door " a little by making public drunkeness ESPECIALLY DUI offences carry the same sort of penalties that smoking marijuana carries . while not in favour of pot in any shape or form I believe alcohol causes a damn sort more damage in our society

Mort said...

there is this interesting post over at notPC

Cannabis is supposed to be a “gateway” drug? The drug that leads people on to harder drugs?

Bullshit.

What makes harder drugs so prevalent is Prohibition. If you don’t believe me, then just ask thousands of current and former members of law enforcement who support drug regulation rather than prohibition—including Scotland Yard’s former head of drug policing.

Prohibition doesn't get drugs off the street. The government can't even get rid of drugs in the controlled environment of a prison, so they certainly can't get rid of them from the relative freedom of our streets. Which means….
Outlawing drugs doesn't make them go away; it simply puts them in the hands of outlaws, and in the hands of the soft targets on whom the outlaws focus. Which means…
Prohibition limits demand a little, but it limits supply a lot -- as every economics student knows, this pushes up prices a lot, and gives remaining dealers a profit on a plate.
Prohibition means people don't stop consuming drugs they just change the drugs they're consuming.
Which means there is what Milton Friedman called an “Iron Law of Prohibition” (yes, ACT members, that Milton Friedman) which says that the more you actively prohibit drugs, then it is the more virulent drugs you actively encourage. Which means instead of the relatively benign drugs like cannabis, alcohol and tobacco being easily available and sold by friendly pharmacists, it’s the nasty stuff instead—and peddled by fearless gang members. Johann Hari summarises:

‘You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society [said Friedman]. Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favour are a major source of the evils you deplore.’
Friedman proved, for example, that prohibition changes the way people use drugs, making many people use stronger, more dangerous variants than they would in a legal market.
During alcohol prohibition, moonshine eclipsed beer; during drug prohibition, crack is eclipsing coke. He called his rule explaining this curious historical fact “the Iron Law of Prohibition”: the harder the police crack down on a substance, the more concentrated the substance will become.
Why? If you run a bootleg bar in Prohibition-era Chicago and you are going to make a gallon of alcoholic drink, you could make a gallon of beer, which one person can drink and constitutes one sale – or you can make a gallon of pucheen, which is so strong it takes thirty people to drink it and constitutes thirty sales. Prohibition encourages you produce and provide the stronger, more harmful drink.
If you are a drug dealer in Hackney, you can use the kilo of cocaine you own to sell to casual coke users who will snort it and come back a month later – or you can microwave it into crack, which is far more addictive, and you will have your customer coming back for more in a few hours. Prohibition encourages you to produce and provide the more harmful drug.
For Friedman, the solution was stark: take drugs back from criminals and hand them to doctors, pharmacists, and off-licenses. Legalize. Chronic drug use will be a problem whatever we do, but adding a vast layer of criminality, making the drugs more toxic, and squandering £20bn on enforcing prohibition that could be spent on prescription and rehab, only exacerbates the problem. ‘Drugs are a tragedy for addicts,’ he said. “But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike.’