Thoughts on the ‘reefer-rendum’

Tommy Kapai Wilson is the Executive Director of Te Tuinga Whanau and is doing great work in the Bay of Plenty with the needy in the local community. His latest opinion piece is hidden behind a paywall and cannot be reproduced in full so herewith a summary of the points Tommy is making.

While many feel that being dependent on a drug, either legal or illegal, is a health issue not a legal one Tommy points out that those at the ‘coal-face’ in the social services are the ones that will have to deal with the results, when another generation of addicts have access to another drug to help them escape the realities of life. Quote.

[…] In our line of frontline work we see what happens to our tamariki when they turn to anything and everything to take away the pain of living life disconnected from whanau and family.

Wearing that potae [hat] we would say tai hoa [slow down] to making marijuana more available, however, sooner than later – once the referendum kicks in, we will have another drug to dull their minds.

In this instant-everything era, where our kids want it all – and they want it now, thinking for themselves is becoming a lost art, like a left over hangover from the days when we thought getting high was going to give us a liberated life of free love, peace and happiness.

Now we want to add marijuana to the land of the long white cloud of memory loss. […] End quote.

His question is, “Why do we need to get high in the first place?” and he suggests that: Quote.

We get an invoice in the second half of life for what we have inhaled, ingested and injected in the first half and we all know pretty much what that bill is going to look like as we enter into the armchair of old age. So why not limit the damage of the invoice. […] End quote.

After witnessing firsthand the heartbreaking damage done by alcohol he suggests that adding another drug to the problem can only go one way with no exit.

He points out the conflict inherent in the debate: If we legalise or at least decriminalise cannabis it stops the stigma of breaking the law but opens up availability to the already vulnerable, especially the young.

So back to the question he asks; why the need to get high at all, be it by drinking or drugging?

David Bowie is quoted as saying, “Drugs gave me nothing. In the end I regretted I ever took them. Their so-called liberating qualities were illusory”.

Tommy suggests that if we do decriminalise cannabis we should also sow the seed of sobriety. Reinforce the message that staying straight and getting high on love, life and learning is a better aspiration than getting high on cannabis. Quote.

If we legalise cannabis and it becomes available everywhere, what effect will it have on those who are already logged into lazy thinking? How will the instant everything generation react when Uncle Google is already dumbing them down by doing their thinking for them?

Lazy thinking induces a lazy lifestyle and limits the potential of our people, Maori and non-Maori.

We need to understand where the referendum will take us and prepare for the good, the bad and the ugly of decriminalising cannabis. End quote.

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