We must address the root causes that put Maori down
Now I know what a lot of people will be thinking out there that how can a Maori possibly be arguing against the use of Cannabis? Well if that’s you cut that out straight away because to be frank I am sick and tired of hearing that this is all just a Maori issue and “yahoo” look at all the positive things that will happen for Maori if we just get out there and pitch the flag to the lets smoke pot band wagon. And on that front if you come at this debate with the economic impacts being amazing then again, cut that out as well because I am sick and tired of hearing about how apparently Maori will do great as dope growers – my people amount to a hell of a lot more than non-Maori telling us constantly that by growing dope we can create jobs and an entire new sector of the economy. Did that happen with relaxed rules around booze? Did we get any economic lift out of smokes? No what happened is we became heavy users, addicted to them both and as a result the lives of tens of thousands of Maori changed for the worse – and for the record – can Pakeha and non-Maori stop telling us what’s good for us?
So lets deal in some facts that are already here and present.
· Smoking Pot doesn’t cause cancer – that is about as hoha as it gets. The fact is that pot increases your risk of lung cancer by 200%
· Pot consumption doesn’t affect your mental health – whoever came up with that crap needs their head read. the relationship between cannabis use and risk of developing symptoms of psychosis has been well established - Research has found that early and frequent cannabis use is a component cause of psychosis, which interacts with other risk factors such as family history of psychosis, history of childhood abuse and expression of the COMT and AKT1 genes. There is a strong resemblance between the acute and transient effects of cannabis use and symptoms of psychosis, including impaired memory, cognition and processing of external stimuli. This combines to make it hard for a person to learn and remember new things but can also extend to the experience of deluded thinking and hallucinations. It is bad enough we have deluded politicians walking around our streets let alone weed smokers.
· Pot smoking is not addictive. Yeah that’s what hippies and white people told us about booze and smokes. Research tells us that 1 in 6 people will develop an addiction – and the chances are that one is Maori.
· Legalizing pot will reduce organised crime and less people will be arrested. Ok then lets have an honest conversation about institutional racism in the NZ Police more broadly because people of colour get arrested on a range of things much more so then our white brothers and sisters and notwithstanding the Canadian experience has shown us that in fact organised crime doesn’t corner the market – but where is the research and criminology around the association to pot of Gangs in this country?
· And yeah I’m going to come out straight and say it – why not just give carte blanche to people like Chloe Swarbrick on pot when the current Government took three years to figure out what to do with vaping. To be blunt I wouldn’t trust some of this current to manage a dead rat out of a trap.
On the economics side the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has said there is a potential to raise $490 million from a new tax at 25%. But here’s the thing – the revenue argument should not be used – the report also states clearly that “We can expect to see the amount of revenue raised from cannabis fall through time, as it is heavy users who contribute most of the revenue. Taxing cannabis should not, therefore, be seen as a permanent addition to the overall tax take.” And then lets not forget to say clearly that the potential ongoing mental health and primary health costs will go through the roof given the shear estimated numbers that may take it up.
The Government has two primary policy objectives when it comes to cannabis: • to minimise the harms associated with use • to reduce overall use over time (Little 2019).
• Preventing young people accessing cannabis
• Deterring criminal activity
• Protecting public health and safety by establishing strict product safety and quality rules
• Reducing the burden on the criminal justice system
• Maximising net benefits and minimising undue impact on businesses involved in the new legal market
These are all admirable things to focus on but just legalising pot isn’t the answer – what we should be doing is investing more in prevention anything less are politicians being lazy – yes it takes hard work to rid our communities of addiction but its even harder to face up to the truth – that Maori have been suppressed into forms of addiction since settlement – to placate us, to devalue us and to treat us like second and often third class citizens – how about we focus on the root causes of addictions for once? Now how novel would that be?