Drug Hysteria - NZ Herald + NZ Police
The NZ Herald has today published an article titled "Cannabis haul highest in a decade", submitted by the NZPA, which one could assume to have been a NZ Police press release printed unquestioningly. The article can be found at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10597228
This 'article' contains a number of false claims and propagandising for the war on drugs.
1) "the potential to cause community harm worth $379 million."
The $379M figure provided by the police is worked out using their internal tool The Drug Harm Index (DHI). The DHI uses estimates of 'social costs' which are based on the costs of drug law enforcement, production costs of drugs, loss to the labour force, and health costs.
Another way of looking at this 'cost' is to look at it as Prohibition Costs. And as the DHI figures 38% of harm for drug law enforcement we can estimate that $144M of taxpayer money was spent to enforce cannibus prohibition in the last year.
And as the DHI places a social harm/cost of $11790/kg of Cannabis, the 50 bags many of us buy are costing society about $30 a pop.
A really good critique of the DHI can be found at: http://www.norml.org.nz/article693.html
2) "The results showed cannabis was a "gateway" drug to other criminal activities, he said."
Or one could just as easily state that some people who are involved in the movement of stolen goods also deal in, or grow Marijuana. And some people who have firearms (note that they were siezed, yet not necessarily illegal) deal in, or grow Marijuana.
It's sort of like saying that because NZ has a drink driving problem, that driving a car is a gateway to alcohol abuse.
3) "the potential socioeconomic harm of $379m the drug could have had on the community was based on a conservative estimate of 226 grams of cannabis from each plant."
Now that's quite a haul. That's almost 8 ounces per plant. Every plant is different, but I think that someone will be doing pretty well to get 8 ounces (dry weight) from their plants on a consistent basis. And this is talking outdoors. Many of these plants will have been indoor plants, were you max yield might be approaching 2oz per plant.
The Police's statement that this would be a constant yield over all plants siezed is very dubious, and claiming that this is a conservative estimate is a very cheeky claim indeed.
4) "The haul of plants was the highest in 10 years and up by 17,000 on the previous year"
Y'know, the fact that they keep on getting higher hauls is not an indicator that the war on drugs is actually working. It just means they've found more plants. And that a lot of people like to use Marijuana. For if there wasn't some sort of demand, there wouldn't be a need for the supply.
One would hope that a reasonable person could look at these figures and the wealth of information around cannabis consumption and effects of prohibition, and make an intelligent decision on prohibition and the use of time, money and persecution that comes with drug law enforcement.
Unforunately most people are unwittingly fed propaganda directly from the enforcers of these laws when they read their daily paper, instead of having a clear factual argument presented to them. The NZ Herald is allowing the Police to use their access to the public to gain support for drug enforcement, without even the slightest critique of the information presented. This is a very questionable practice and is feeding people false information, and I call upon the NZ Herald to review these practices.
Some things that people can do in response to this are:
*) Write a letter to the editor:
*) Write to the Police and question their use of the DHI, their propagandizing, how they came up with 226g/plant:
Police National Headquarters
PO Box 3017
Phone: +64 4 474-9499
*) Stop buying the paper.