Sunday, March 13, 2022

Stoned driving again comes up WAY safer than drunk driving

A large meta-study has shown the dangers of driving while on cannabis are negligible compared to even threshold alcohol blood concentrations.  This once more shows the extreme injustice – and pointlessness – of roadside drug testing which measures only the presence of the drug, not impairment. A positive swab results in arrest and instant loss of licence.

"Canadian researchers analyzed data from 57 studies assessing the influence of cannabis and alcohol on driving behavior and crash risk. 

They acknowledged that cannabis exposure was typically associated with deviation in drivers’ lateral positioning (lane weaving) and a decrease in their average speed. Cannabis use was “not associated with an increase in crashes in experimental studies.” Authors also found “no compelling evidence” that cannabis influenced hazard response time, headway variability, time out of lane, speed variability, speed exceedance, or time speeding. 

They concluded, “Specifically, for the measures reported here, there are no instances where the average effect of cannabis is equal to or greater than the driving performance decrements associated with BAC concentration ranging from 0.04 to 0.06 percent.”

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Scott Morrison's Australia Day address, 2022


Exclusive! We have obtained an advance copy of the PM's speech.

"Today I announce a raft of measures central to the life of Australians, and Australia. That’s why I am surrounded by Australian flags and am wearing an Australian flag face mask, as well as my Australian flag lapel badge. Because Australians like that. It makes them feel we in Australia are all in this together, pushing through the windscreen.

Clearly these measures are vital to Australia, a place where Australians never look into the rear-vision mirror, even when reversing at full speed.

Australians already like the Positive Energy we are bringing to Australia, because they clearly support technology like clean coal rather than the punishing taxes Labor will propose one day. Just look at the brown hydrogen we are already exporting from Australia.

Some Australian journalists are so desperate for content they have actually accused Australia’s Prime Minister of lying. I stand before you today to solemnly assure Australians I have never lied. Australia is better than that. 

Today I ask Australians to Stand Strong, because our Australian focus groups show that Australia now prefers two-word slogans to the old three-word ones. If Australians stand strong and push through, Australia has a bright future in the eyes of God, my personal mate.

Australia can only benefit from having children driving forklifts and importing cheap foreign workers, because Australians have better things to do than train for skilled Australian jobs. Australia is better off importing technology and cars, for instance, while exporting any bright ideas Australians might have. That enhances Australia’s reputation in the world, especially in France and Serbia. 

We are clearly best at managing the Australian economy to benefit Australians. We have cleverly arranged for future generations of Australians to pay off our manageable debt, while bringing wealthy Australians unprecedented tax cuts in the tradition of one of Australia’s favourite books, the Magic Pudding. We have fostered record prices for Australian family homes, making many Australians better off than they have ever been.

We understand the pain Australians are going through because of this global pandemic that’s all China’s fault. But we also recognise that Australians want to keep prices down in Australia by blocking pay rises or unaffordable staffing ratios for Australian heroes like nurses and aged care workers. We salute these heroes as they underpin the profits of our rich Australian mates, proving that if Australia privatises everything, Australians are better off.

But Australians can rest assured that one day this pandemic will fade from memory, like a miracle, just before Australia’s next federal election, when the wisdom of letting it rip will be obvious to all Australians who didn’t die from it.

But more immediately, I urge all Australians to get behind Australia Day, that sacred celebration of white Australia’s supremacy, culture and Australian beer. I’ll be having one myself while watching my favourite Australian footy team and wearing a Chinese-made baseball cap and eating an Australian meat pie for the Australian photographers. With sauce of course.

I urge First Nations people, here before Australia was even Australia, to celebrate our unity as Australians and don’t look in the rear vision mirror. It’s time Australians moved on from our history, except of course for the glorious achievements Australia can boast. Thank you Australia. We won’t be taking any questions at this time, or ever if we can help it. Amen."

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

'Screw what the people think! We love prohibition.'

Leading Liberals Domicron and Morrison 
prefer praying in cosplay to fixing
actual problems. Labor is not much better.
Too many governments, state and federal, continue with prohibition despite overwhelming evidence and opinion that it should be scrapped, notably for cannabis. Not to mention that it's very expensive for zero benefit.

The latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey spells it out clearly.

"One particular question asked, was whether they ‘believe the possession of cannabis for personal use should be a criminal offence’. The data tells us that 15.9 million Australians think cannabis should be decriminalised. The trend has been on a steady [upward] slope since the question was first asked in 2010."

Friday, October 08, 2021

Blathering boofhead bigwigs blow hard about prohibition

Lying racist Henry Anslinger
at the height of his corrupt power.
Idiotic prohibitionists flaunt their ignorance all over the papers today in their spray about Eastern Suburbs (Sydney) Cocaine culture. "This drug is illegal for good reason" lied Police Minister David Elliott as Magistrate Ross Hudson sprayed similar nonsense. "These people seem to think cocaine is part of a normal night out," one blathered even in the face of his outrage that it evidently is exactly that. THESE people seem to actually believe certain drugs are prohibited for some valid reason, contrary to all evidence and expert opinion. They simply repeat the lies of the original, deeply corrupt far-right murderer and prohibitionist, Henry Anslinger who produced the now hilarious movie 'Reefer Madness'. I'm no fan of coke myself – at least not the highly cut crap mostly available in Australia – but these pontificating clowns are completely detached from reality. And they rule us.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Habitual pot smokers are safe drivers – study

Mindless persecution in the name of road safety.
Just as pot smokers have been claiming forever, regular smokers under the influence drive slower and just as safely as sober drivers. This piles on more evidence against the Roadside Drug testing rules in Australia which mandate instant loss of licence if any THC whatsoever is detected.

Confirming the old story of the police pulling over the hippie Kombi van because it was driving so slowly, a new study compared regular smokers with occasional smokers and non-smokers being put through their paces on a driving simulator.

The results make a further mockery of NSW's increased quotas for such tests, especially as they target particular areas such as the Northern Rivers. As many campaigners have pointed out, this is especially harsh as there is little public transport there and loss of license can have serious consequences for victims who live some distance from their nearest town or workplace. Our 'justice system' is designed for injustice.

Still, both Liberal and Labor state administrations refuse to relax these rules, let alone make progress towards regulated legalisation or even scale back their intrusive sniffer dog/strip search regime.

And just as the original corrupt prohibitionist Harry Anslinger did in the 1930s, police continue to demonise and target small-time users and people of colour so their impressive arrest statistics ensure ever-increasing budgets and promotion opportunities. It's a racket.

The original study is here.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

ANOM sting fuels increased surveillance and prohibition

The recent global mega-bust around the ANOM app and devices is predictably being used by politicians to push for increased surveillance powers for police and spy agencies, and to justify drug prohibition.

The sting uncovered a wealth of drugs and drug money along with very welcome takedowns of people planning murder and violence. Conservatives and police have leapt on this opportunity to reinforce the old but false prohibition narrative, conflating drugs and criminal violence. 

This is essentially a circular argument because the only link between drugs and criminals is of course prohibition. In essence it reads “we need prohibition because prohibition”. The police always boast that huge drug hauls have been “taken off the market” rather than admit they are evidence prohibition has failed. The unspoken assumption is that drug use will increase under a legal, regulated framework, despite clear evidence it does not.

Another fallacy in this narrative is the lumping together of all illicit drugs. These spruikers push a moral panic around ice, heroin and cocaine and rarely mention more benign and non-addictive drugs like cannabis and MDMA.

“There is nothing social about illicit drug use in this country,” intoned a pious and triumphant Prime Minister Scott Morrison, eagerly taking some credit for this operation, while conveniently deflecting from more troublesome issues denting his popularity. He went on to appeal to Australians to stop using drugs because it fuels organised crime.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Temperature up, sunshine down

 Maybe it's actually caused by humans burning stuff??

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Glaciers are melting. The water has to go somewhere!


This is why sea levels have risen in the past, but now it's happening fast.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

War on Drugs linked to Aboriginal deaths


Taylah Gray. Pic: Max Mason-Hubers/
Newcastle Herald
Some important dots were joined today, linking the War on Drugs with Aboriginal deaths in custody.

"Police in NSW pursue more than 80 per cent of Aboriginal people found with a small amount of cannabis through the courts while letting others off with warnings.

"Start with bail and stop locking black people up, let our children home. Bailey Mackander whose inquest was happening today was a 19-year-old boy in prison."

Thus spake University of Newcastle PHD candidate and Wiradjuri woman Taylah Gray in the Newcastle Herald today.  

While Australia struggles with solutions to the problem despite the Black Deaths Royal Commission laying out several actions, legalising and regulating cannabis (and even all other drugs) would eliminate one of the big four reasons First Nations people are locked up in the first place.

Of course it would solve many other problems, and could even create revenue for the government, as is now clear from the success of legalisation and decriminalisation in other countries and states.

There is no rational reason for prohibition. We know it does not work, with history including Al Capone waging Tommy-Gun battles on the streets and now daily drive-by shootings, stabbings and murders in some parts of Sydney as criminal dealer gangs fight out their differences.

But Liberal and Labor governments turn a blind eye to the obvious and perpetuate this failed, expensive, murderous policy. More people should punish them at the ballot box!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Roadside drug testing again shown to be deeply unjust

A misleading message from a
Howard-era anti-cannabis campaign.
The unjust persecution of drivers detected with cannabis in their bodies – but little or no impairment – just took another hit, with a Sydney University meta-study showing limited impairment times. 

The injustice is pretty clear – 

"users were impaired for between three and 10 hours after taking moderate to high doses of the intoxicating component of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

THC can be detected in the body for weeks after cannabis consumption, meaning users can face fines and loss of their licence, despite being unaffected by the drug." (from the linked ABC News story)

Furthermore the 10-hour figure applied to heavy oral consumption. Smokers and long-term users had a shorter period of impairment.

Friday, March 12, 2021

How to stand up to tech bullies and solve the paywall problem

Facebook's blocking of news sites in Australia, in a battle over paying for media content, has brought into sharp focus several deep fissures in our modern digital media landscape.

Even as Facebook relents, agreeing to slowly unblock news pages and to negotiate payment with primary media players, a deeper problem remains, one virtually absent from the public discussion about this conflict – quality news costs money and people are generally not prepared to pay for it.

Complicating this is the dominance of Facebook and Google, virtual global private monopolies in a field which did not even exist a few years ago which have arguably reached the status of essential public utilities. 

Their threats to block news content as pushback to government regulation should be a wake-up call, a classic illustration of the problems of globalisation where international companies have the heft and will to bully national governments. This is a matter of sovereignty.

We all know a sound democracy depends on a well informed public, because people, to cast a meaningful vote, need to know what's going on. So cutting off news to Australians is a body blow to our democracy, especially considering the flood of fake news already believed by far too many people. Facebook effectively blocked verified, fact-checked news (the bit that costs money) while the blathering cowboys of Youtube – where most conspiracy theorists get their 'information' – continued unchecked.

Many Facebook-lite users have graced newspaper letter pages with sentiments such as "Who needs facebook, I can go directly to news platforms." But this harks back to the old days of print news, where most people bought only one newspaper or consumed the highly summarised and curated TV evening news. Far more news is available today.

The same people often remark that Facebook is boring anyway, or just full of crap, and blame this on the medium. They seem unaware that if their experience of Facebook is crap, that's because their online friends post a lot of it. But a network of informed, intelligent people can offer a smorgasbord of new information and thought.

Facebook also offers people the chance to talk back, and they do so on public pages such as the very media sites blocked in this latest move. Vigorous public debates are typically supported by links to other news pages, which also have been blocked. Such users transcend the infamous 'echo-effect' that can isolate the page of an incurious user. The loss of this was a serious blow to town square discussion and information sharing.

Now, even as media pages have returned to the platform, there is nothing stopping the tech giants from again wielding this blunt instrument, and any benefit to smaller players is unclear.. 

Unless, that is, we had an alternative, a new way of accessing news which also solved the problem of paywalls.

Paywalls are a legacy of old media, each platform standing behind their battlements and trying to compete with all the other platforms for subscribers. This, so far, has failed to replace the advertising  'rivers of gold' that used to support commercial media. But more than that, they disenfranchise all who cannot afford to pay multiple subscriptions. It appears Australia's media giants are wallowing in their own feifdoms, vying for market prominence behind paywalls. In this they make an age-old mistake – a failure to see things from the consumer's point of view. The fact is that most people cannot or will not afford multiple news subscriptions, so they are forever locked out of most information sources while the media companies are denied this revenue.

What's needed is a new platform. Call it 'Ozmedia'. People could subscribe for about the same amount as a single platform but get access to all participating platforms, who get paid per click. It could be owned and set up by existing media platforms, or by the government if it was run at arms-length. The pay per click system would even out the disparity between mega and micro players as, presumably, the Sydney Sentinel or the Eurobodalla Beagle would get far fewer clicks than the big players. The system would also encourage competition between the platforms, where hopefully the attraction of quality content would counter the populist clickbait that already proliferates. The ABC should be included but also available free to the taxpayers who fund it.

Its initial subscriber base could be all the participating media companies' subscribers, and the obvious value for money should make promoting further membership relatively easy. After all, a nominal $15 per month or so is less than people used to pay to have the paper delivered every day. Students could enjoy generous discounts or use their parents' accounts.

The platform/app could have rolling headlines searchable by story tags, by title or by keywords. Email alerts would keep people aware. Alerts could be customised by interest area, so people with no interest in sport, for instance, could reduce the spam effect by specifying only news and comment. Or vice versa. All this is basic tech already available on most platforms.

It would be advertising-free, so there would be little need for Ozmedia to collect user data beyond subscription information – promising to not do so would make it more attractive than the data-hungry Facebook and Google. Links to news from those platforms might arrive at the Ozmedia paywall, or limited access offers promoting subscription.

Yes it would be a complex negotiation among the media players, and would need to be slick and well designed, but those players have the necessary resources and skill base.

Then, if the global giants try another stunt like this, we could give them the middle finger and go to Ozmedia for our information.

Australia left behind as Mexico legalises cannabis

A woman carries a cannabis plant
in a street protest in Mexico – Reuters
Mexico's lower house of Congress has passed new laws to fully legalise cannabis for recreational, medical and scientific use. The move is likely to defuse some of the extreme violence inflicted on people by illegal drug cartels and their militias, whereby hundreds of thousands have been killed and tens of thousands 'disappeared'.

The "War on Drugs" campaign of former President Calderon only increased this violence and enabled widespread police corruption, police in some cases working directly for cartels. Between 2007 and 2014, over 160,000 people were murdered, far more than civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq combined over the same period.

Meanwhile, at the time of this writing, NSW Police are conducting another drug blitz in the Northern Rivers region, where cannabis has long been popular. The discredited prohibitionist dogma of Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has clearly failed across the world and it is puzzling why he continues to persecute drug users despite the landslide of social and scientific evidence refuting it. The Daily Telegraph has published speculation that Mr Fuller is running for preselection for the Liberals in Craig Kelly's seat of Hughes.

This comes after NSW police dropped investigations into the clear forgery tabled by Liberal Energy Minister Angus Taylor, and into allegations of historical rape by Attorney-General Christian Porter. There is no evidence that these events are in any way connected – but it surely makes a bad look.

Australia is lucky not to suffer the extreme violence of Mexican cartels but there are regular drive-by shootings and murders in Sydney explicitly linked to organised gangs peddling drugs.

One of the most frequent lies of prohibitionists, that cannabis causes serious health problems, is being challenged in Mexico. “With this, the false belief that cannabis forms part of Mexico’s serious health problems is left behind,” said one ruling party member.

Meanwhile a New York court has heard that a drug clan leader bribed the President of Honduras in 2012 with $250,000 to prevent his extradition to the USA. Australia has had its own drug bribery scandals, so it is remarkable that authorities still prosecute the failed and corrupt War on Drugs.

With Australia being left behind by yet another supposedly third-world country, can it be the case that we are becoming a fourth-world banana republic?

Monday, February 15, 2021

Study finds no relationship between cannabis intake and driving impairment

A study of people using driving simulators found that cannabis levels had no relationship to driving impairment. This does not mean people can get stoned and go for a drive in perfect safety but it does underline the fundamental injustice of our drug driving laws compared to drunk driving laws, where blood alcohol content definitely affects driving ability.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Cannabis legalised, sky has not fallen, prohibitionists wrong again

A year of legalised cannabis possession in Australia's ACT capital has not changed much apart from some small improvements. So much for the dire predictions of prohibitionists – who look more and more like clueless conspiracy theorists.

While simple cannabis offences have dropped 90%, usage has remained steady, drug driving detections are about the same and there has been no increase in mental health admissions, despite warnings to that effect from conspiracy theorist and Health Minister Greg Hunt.

This is in line with everywhere else that has legalised. Makes you wonder how much longer prohibitionists can ignore reality.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Former magistrate slams unfair drug driving tests

Thousands of NSW residents are having their driving licences revoked for no good reason says David Heilpern, a Northern Rivers magistrate who retired early, largely because he could not in conscience continue imposing mandatory suspensions.

He says in this Radio National interview that roadside drug tests are criminalising people with historic traces of certain illicit drugs but whose driving is not impaired. He points out that when such road safety measures as compulsory seatbelts and random breath testing for alcohol were introduced, the road toll was significantly reduced. But he has seen no evidence that busting tens of thousands of drivers over several years for illicit drugs has reduced the road toll.

This is largely because tests for cannabis can reveal traces of historic use – a week or nine days earlier – which do not impair driving. This contrasts with alcohol testing which measures present blood alcohol levels and the level of impairment in an increasing scale with corresponding penalties.

The drug testing hits regional areas hardest because people there are more reliant on driving for daily functions such as getting to work, taking children to school or going into town for shopping. He said people in his court would regularly burst into tears, pleading with him not to suspend their licence. But NSW law mandates automatic suspension dating from the initial roadside test. Mr Heilpern was able to exonerate only a few people on particular legal grounds.

To make matters worse, police have district level quotas with certain areas such as Northern Rivers and the Hunter having higher quotas than other areas such as the North Shore of Sydney.

There is no reason for these harsh laws. They do not make the roads safer. There is no evidence supporting them. They can exist only because of an irrational prohibitionist prejudice in the NSW government and the police industry – which of course benefits massively from drug detection budgets. Thousands of people are being criminalised and having their lives impaired for no reason whatsoever. This stupidity must stop.

Monday, December 28, 2020

NSW keeps the prison pipeline pumping

A secret Government committee is planning to build a major new jail in Camellia, Sydney. I wonder whether any of the interest groups that will benefit considered reducing the number of prisoners by decriminalising drugs, following Portugal's resounding success in that regard? Then maybe we would not need a new jail.

I don't really wonder – this government cannot join the dots between an overcrowded 'justice' system and unnecessary criminalisation of people committing victimless crimes.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The uselessness of prohibition in one easy lesson

 I couldn't have put it better myself. [Newcastle Herald 17/12/20]

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Oregon decriminalises all drugs – when will Australia understand?

Here is yet another factual, balanced article written by experts explaining why Oregon has voted for common sense. Can our prohibitionists even read? Yes, I'm talking about you, John Barilaro, NSW Deputy Premier, who recently went ballistic because NSW was considering listening to experts instead of a blustering idiot like him.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

NSW Police aim at warrant-free drugs crackdown

NSW has proposed an extraordinary Bill that allows Police, without a warrant, to detain and search anyone who had a drug supply conviction in the past ten years.

A two-year trial would target Bankstown, the Hunter Valley, Coffs Harbour and Orana in the west.

This doubling-down on a failed prohibition regime ignores the clear success of decriminalisation in Portugal, and successful legalisations in other places. Where such approaches can bring in solid streams of revenue for governments, the neanderthal NSW approach will cost taxpayers more, even as the state is smashed by Covid-related expenses and revenue reduction.

It is a big step away from the idea of a free democracy. 

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties said the bill would give “extraordinary” powers to police “in circumstances where adequate powers currently exist to search and seize items related to drug activity”.

The "Supply" definition includes people convicted of deemed supply which could include a kid busted at a festival with five or so ecstasy pills.

The Bill is backed by Labor, causing dissent it its ranks, but opposed by the Greens. MP David Shoebridge said “I find it hard to understand how NSW Labor can back this in. It makes you wonder what it would take for them to say no to more money or more power for police.” 

It's not clear whether police will use number-plate scanning to identify targets, as the WA police started doing some years ago. It must be asked, why might this technological intrusion be used against a victimless crime rather than convicted murderers or pedophiles? These prohibitionists are obsessively twisted out of shape.

When will these people learn that prohibition does not stop drug use but only increases violence by handing the supply chain to gangs? They have no recourse in law so they resort to violence. 

It's clear – America's Prohibition era saw Tommy-gun battles in the street between rival gangs, Al Capone style. That stopped when prohibition was repealed. Today we have drive-by shootings and home invasions in south-west Sydney and elsewhere. 

But you don't see rival brewers' trucks running around shooting each other in the streets, do you. They are regulated, provide revenue to the government and have recourse to law to solve disputes, as in a civilised democracy.

This new Bill is a step towards repressive autocracy.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

USA creeps towards leglisation during presidential vote

Several US states have voted to decriminalise drugs in referenda taken during the 2020 presidential election. 
In a historic first, Oregon voted to decriminalise all illegal drugs...
Meanwhile, in other parts of the US, voters backed the decriminalisation of recreational marijuana: in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota.
That takes the tally of states where recreational weed is allowed up to 15.
Back in slow-moving Australia, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019 showed that more people supported legalisation (41%) than opposed it (37%).

And a referendum on legalising cannabis in New Zealand was lost even as an assisted dying bill passed and Jacinda Ardern was returned with her own majority. No doubt the No case was run by the usual self-interest groups – The alcohol industry, pharmaceutical groups and the police.  

But they are on the wrong side of history.

One by one the false tropes of prohibition are falling. Prohibitionists always assert that steps toward legalisation would lead to mass abuse of drugs like cannabis. However the Household drug use survey says otherwise –
Interestingly, if cannabis were legal, 78% of surveyed Australians said they would not use it. Only 3% said they would increase their use.
Moreover prohibition has not reduced drug use between 2016 and 2019, rather it is increasing –
This includes the proportion of Australians who used cannabis (up from 10.4% to 11.6%), cocaine (2.5% to 4.2%), ecstasy (2.2% to 3.0%) and ketamine (0.4% to 0.9%).
It's astounding that our democratic country also continues to tolerate mass murder in the Philippines in the name of the War on Drugs, with Amnesty International conservatively estimating that 8.000 people have been murdered without a trial, and even some priests who spoke out about the carnage have themselves been assassinated. Prohibition does way more harm than the drugs it fails to control! 



Monday, August 24, 2020

Heroin trials succeed in UK

Syringes in the gutter
Before the legal Injecting Centre in Kings Cross,
sights like this were fairly common in the street.

After the conservative government de-funded heroin trials in the UK, some local authorities have continued them, with dramatic reductions in crime and homelessness

One habitual user told how he used to have to shoplift £80 worth of goods each day to yield £40 for heroin. I'm sure the local shopkeepers prefer this new option. 

Prohibitionists of course are horrified at such a measure, preferring the endless round of expensive and destructive police, court and jail action that had clearly failed before these programs were launched – a system which also boosted a criminal supply chain with its endemic violence and corruption.

Legalise, regulate, tax and treat!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Yes, Aborigines do suffer discrimination in the justice system

Well the numbers are in – there is little doubt NSW police discriminate against Aborigines. And drug prohibition is a major enabler.

"Drug driving laws, whereby drivers can lose their licence on the spot if they have a detectable level of drugs in their system, also disproportionately impact Aboriginal people. Without a licence, many clients inevitably lose their jobs too," reports a special investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald.

As documented elsewhere on this blog, these laws are unjust because they do not test for impairment, only the presence of certain drugs in saliva or blood and cause instant loss of licence. Alcohol driver tests, on the other hand, measure the concentration of alcohol and licence loss occurs only with high blood levels or repeat offences.

Alcohol impairs driving far more than cannabis does, with some now claiming that experienced smokers have no impairment.

This of course discriminates against all drivers who use cannabis, but the investigation shows a systemic bias against Aborigines across many offences.

"In Sydney city, more Indigenous people went to jail than others for offensive language and other public order offences despite fewer being charged with this offence," says the SMH report.

If anyone thinks Black Lives Matter protesters don't have a genuine grievance, please read the linked article. And there is good reason for the BLM movement to campaign against prohibition because abolishing that failed policy will immediately benefit their cause!

Thursday, July 09, 2020

NZ to vote on cannabis legalisation and control

Even as Australia bumbles along, clinging to 1930s-style prohibition, New Zealand will vote on legalising Cannabis in September.

And as NSW massively increases police detection quotas for drugs, former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark  has labelled prohibition as "the worst waste of taxpayers' money".
“For me, it’s just a no-brainer to stop wasting our taxpayers’ money with police helicopters hovering over the Kiwi bush, hounding ordinary citizens who are having a joint of cannabis rather than a glass of wine, hunting down the Kiwis who are desperate for some kind of relief for a medical condition. Let’s stop all that... lets put it into something better,” she said.
The proposed legalisation will ban items designed to appeal to young people, set a four-year prison term for selling to under 20-year-olds and allow cannabis “coffee shops” to open.

Despite this, local prohibitionists claim the new law would make the drug more available to children, because they apparently trust criminal dealers to protect children better than police and the legal system.

Let's hope common sense prevails. In neanderthal Australia, police continue to burn taxpayers' money taking helicopter joy flights around Nimbin looking for the pot plots of hippies.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

NSW cops form drug syndicate to entrap drug syndicates

Seriously, prohibition is just a recipe for corruption. No link provided here because it's behind a paywall but here's the text.

NSW Drug Squad detectives have homes raided by fellow police

An internal investigation is underway into the activities of the high-powered NSW Drug Squad, into allegations their police tactics crossed the line into criminality.

Sharri Markson, The Daily Telegraph
July 2, 2020 8:02am

State Crime Command Drug Squad detectives have had their homes raided as part of a misconduct investigation into allegations they created a drug syndicate and manufactured drugs to entrap criminals.

The Daily Telegraph understands attempted prosecutions brought on by the NSW Drug Squad unraveled when police methodology was questioned.

NSW Police last night confirmed the launch of Strike Force Dominion to investigate the conduct of senior Drug Squad police.

“State Crime Command have referred a matter to the Professional Standards Command for further investigation,” a NSW Police spokesman said in a statement.

“SF (StrikeForce) Dominion has been established by Professional Standards Command and remains an ongoing investigation.

“No further comment can be provided at this time.”

The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission has been involved in the investigation and the homes of two senior detectives in the Drug Squad were raided on Tuesday.

Monday, June 29, 2020

NSW ramps up drug detection targets as it flogs the dead horse of prohibition

Good policing or self-fulfilling prophesy?
NSW Police are being given detection targets that demand an increase in drug detections by a massive 86%

Certain suburbs like Kings Cross, Broken Hill, Mt Druitt and South Sydney have far higher targets than the average while North Shore suburbs have among the lowest. Cynics may conclude that the well-off areas where cocaine is the drug of choice are getting a 'Get out of Jail Free' card.

And, despite clear international evidence that decriminalisation and case management is a cheaper and more effective way to address illicit drugs, those targets are the highest of all categories.

Critics say this quota approach will result in bias errors like racial profiling and do nothing to increase community safety – at a time where the incarceration rate of non-white people is stoking widespread protest.

From the SMH article linked above –
Professor Murray Lee, director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology at the University of Sydney, said focusing on... drug supply, could push the offence rates higher over time and risk it becoming a "self-fulfilling prophecy".
"You may well see police going for the low-hanging fruit, whether that's over-policing in particular areas to meet those targets, going after the usual suspects," Professor Lee said.
The target for robbery in Ku-ring-gai has fallen 40 per cent since 2016 to 20 this year, while actual incidents have been increasing in that area, tripling from 10 in 2016 to 30 last year.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

How prohibition turned a hippie into a 'terrorist'

George Dickson (pic by Hugh Rimington),
Another example of the toxic chain-reaction sparked by prohibition is reported in the Monthly article 'The Aquarian 'terrorist' (paywall).

Self-described hippie and cannabis legalisation activist George Dickson was arrested in May 2019 for possession in Nimbin, during Mardi Grass, the annual Marihuana Festival.

He ended up being jailed, classified as a terrorist and placed under a full control order, forbidden even from going interstate to his father's funeral and forced to wear an ankle tracker bracelet along with other conditions such as being forbidden to use a computer or phone.

After his initial arrest he was taken 31 kms away from Nimbin to Lismore police station, to be released late on that cold night with no shoes, no money and scant clothes (and, presumably, no pot!). Angered, he smashed the windscreens of two police cars with a rock. Bad and unwise, but it does not make him a terrorist.

This farce happened because of two bad laws, first the law that prohibits cannabis for no rational reason, and second, Australia's then newly minted Terrorism Act. The loose wording of that Act allowed police to draw a link between smashing the windscreens (violence) and Mr Dickson's history of activism in support of cannabis legalisation (a political activity). His activism included things like putting stickers on telegraph poles – hardly the sort of activity the terrorism laws were designed to address.

This apparently resulted in up to 20 police etc at one time being on the case, most reportedly unable to take it seriously.

I'm guessing Mr Dickson takes it pretty seriously.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Black lives matter, especially under prohibition

Police in Kings Cross guide a sniffer dog towards
an indigenous man in one of their daily street trawls.
No drug indication was made.
Following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, mass protests in the western world have all but pushed Covid 19 off the front pages (not that there are too many of those left!). "Black lives matter" is again an anthem.

But the endless discussion around the problem of over-policing people of colour, while exploring the complexities of history and culture, almost always ignores one central driver – the entirely pointless and ineffective War on Drugs. And if you don't agree that 'war' is pointless, you need to explain the success of Portugal's blanket decriminalisation of illicit drugs.

Meanwhile most American states, and Australia where drug sniffer dogs roam the streets, continue to criminalise the use of drugs other than alcohol. In Australia, drug and alcohol "abuse"* is one of the four key risk-factors for involvement in the criminal justice system according to a Parliamentary report.
Available data shows that Indigenous Australians fair (sic) significantly worse than non-Indigenous Australians in regard to these four critical factors which influence involvement in crime.[7] These factors have interrelated detrimental impacts and can be seen as forming a vicious cycle
The Guardian found there had been at least 434 deaths in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody ended in 1991 – that's more than one per month.

In 2018–19 Australia recorded 77,074 illicit drug offences, 20% of the total (ABS). It's not simplistic to suggest that the decriminalisation or legalisation of drugs would significantly reduce the criminalisation of Indigenous people – with the stroke of a pen, as it were. Understandable fears by many people that such a move would create a "flood of stoners wandering around the streets", as is often claimed by prohibitionists, simply does not happen for reasons beyond the scope of this article.

So I urge those who campaign in the 'Black lives matter' space to join the dots between racially skewed policing and the War on Drugs. You may see them as separate issues but the dots do join very strongly.

* I place the word "abuse" in quotes here because crime statisticians tend to class any drug use as "abuse" even though the vast, vast majority of such drug use causes no significant problems for the user or others. I see the inaccurate terminology as part of the demonisation of drugs carried out by the forces of prohibition, not least to reinforce their own survival as a well funded industry.

US prison statistics illustrate the huge impact prohibition has on the criminal justice system.