Transcript: Mike Hosking & Chloe Swarbrick on legalising cannabis

Transcript starts at 8:19

Mike:

Back to the cannabis referendum and the polls out would suggest the majority of us don’t want it – legalisation that is – the TV1 poll, for example, had the numbers at 52/39 I think, eight were left undecided. My editorial on the in column yesterday got all the pro-pot brigade up in arms and demanding replies and one of them is the green MP Chloe Swarbrick. So, in the interests of fairness she is with us. Good morning.

Chloe:

Ata marie Mike.

Mike:

So. when you…

Chloe:

I would just like to say off the bat, definitely not in the pro pot brigade. I am in the pro sensible regulation brigade.

Mike:

Fair enough. And so, when you read my editorial, which I am sure you did yesterday, I didn’t sway you?

Chloe:

No, I mean what I read is you know, you saying towards the end – we are right – and I really wanted to delve into that because who is it? Ah, you know, who are we when you refer to the 52% of New Zealanders who are currently opposed to legalisation? That does go to show that I do have a big job to do. Ah, but stats would indicate across New Zealand that the majority of those people have tried cannabis. And I would ask how do you think the majority of those people have got cannabis or a hold of cannabis?

Mike:

But that’s pointless. It’s a pointless question to ask. They will have got hold of it illegally.

Chloe:

Exactly. They will have got hold of it illegally in the same way that people under alcohol prohibition would have got alcohol through back alley um… down dark alleyways through drug dealers. Ah, and in that world, we saw a huge amount of associated violence, we saw a huge amount of money that was being wasted on police resources to try and you know, enforce criminal justice there. And what we ended up doing sensibly was relenting because it made absolutely no sense to ah uphold prohibition when so many people were using the substance. So instead we sought legal regulation. And my argument is that…

Mike:

Chloe just let me just interrupt you because I’ve heard that argument so that argument’s not new.  The reason it doesn’t wash is because it’s applicable to everything then that we failed on. We failed on domestic violence – why don’t we legalise that as well. It’s a stupid argument.

Chloe:

No, there’s a difference there because what we are seeing, when we are talking about substances in particular, is that we need to treat addiction like a health issue.

Mike:

But people who smoke dope aren’t necessarily addicted. It’s not necessarily a health issue at all. I mean you use your alcohol issue as a classic example. We’ve got tremendous problems with alcohol. Alcohol wreaks havoc in our community and so we need to do something about it. But there’s no point in then going because we’ve legalised that let’s legalise that as well, because all you’re doing is going to create the same problems with dope as you have with alcohol.

Chloe:

No, what we can do is learn from the mistakes that we have made with alcohol. With alcohol I would argue that we simply there, actually placed what we had with black market control and criminality with the gangs and the fact that they were exploiting people, vulnerable people, to the black market with complete corporate and more towards… erring towards the side of free market control which also seeks to exploit ah vulnerable communities for the sake of making a quick buck. What we need to do is have a system which provides for intervention.

And I also just want to touch on the point that you raised during ah your op-ed as well where you say common sense would say um you know, common sense needs to prevail and I would say that actually common sense would surely say that you do the most effective thing regardless of your dogma.

Mike:

Correct.

Chloe:

I would also speak to the fact that…

Mike:

The most effective thing is to police it. It’s against the law – you police it. And we don’t police it. The reason it’s out of control is we don’t police it – we don’t take it seriously enough.

Chloe:

But no country in the world…

Mike:

Irrelevant! So what?

Chloe:

…has been able to police their way out of it.

Mike:

If you are going to base rules on every other country in the world you are going down a slippery slope because I can find you an example in any country on any given issue anywhere in the world that does something that you don’t want to do. And if you want to cite that as an example of where we want to go, we are all buggered.

Chloe:

Well, we haven’t been able to police it effectively here, what I’m saying Mike is that…

Mike:

Because we haven’t tried hard enough. And we haven’t take it seriously enough.

Chloe:

We have… we have tried very hard.

Mike:

It’s either illegal or it’s not.

Chloe:

Cannabis has been illegal in this country since 1975 when we introduced the misuse of drugs act…

Mike:

So is shoplifting, so is bashing women, so is robbing banks. We are losing all of those – do you want to make them all legal?

Chloe:

No, what I want to do is seek to implement the most effective form of legal regulation. There is no opportunity to legally regulate any of those things in order to reduce harm. There are better interventions absolutely…

Mike:

It doesn’t reduce harm though Chloe. If you look around at all the statistics it doesn’t reduce harm at all. People smoke more of it, the moment you legalise it people smoke more of it.

Chloe:

Actually, when you look at harm – harm has reduced particularly when it comes to acting for young people. And I also want to refer to…

Mike:

Cite me an example where it’s been reduced and I’ll cite you an example where it hasn’t.

Chloe:

Colorado, it’s been reduced for young people. The only report that cites the opposite of that is the Rocky Mountain report which has been debunked multiple times.

Mike:

In Colorado the number of people killed by drugged drivers has gone up.

Chloe:

Ah when you say drugged drivers, I also think it’s really important to delve down into that because…

Mike:

It went from 139 to 421.

Chloe:

So, what you are saying is that there are a number of people who have cannabis in their system who have been… who have been involved in crashes…

Mike:

Yeah, it went up once they legalised it. It went from 139 to 421 – went up 25%.

Chloe:

That doesn’t mean that people are driving impaired, Mike. Cannabis stays in somebody’s system…

Mike:

Yeah, but now you are going down the dancing on the head of a pin. I gave you numbers and I’ve given you facts. See, I argue on facts.

The head of the DHS for example, rather the NHS in Britain, says 80% of psychosis in Britain is directly attributable to people smoking cannabis. 80%.

Chloe:

That has been debunked by other professionals…

Mike:

What – the head of the NHS is wrong?

Chloe:

Well, look at the former chief drug advisor David… Professor David…

Mike:

Well I look at the current NHS head and that’s what he’s saying.

Chloe:

Okay, well look at the majority of scientists and where their consensus is… because the consensus is built. I want to speak to how you speak to um the majority of health professionals and how we need to talk to health professionals.

I’ve been engaging with health professionals for a year and a half on this issue, and further to that point, if you actually look at the huge swathe of research that we have commissioned independently – and it’s not just this government but former governments…

Mike:

But the research from governments is irrelevant. It’s like asking a question do you want… I mean the reality is it comes back to politics doesn’t it Chloe?

Either… and this is how we are going to work it out in this country. You are going to have a vote and you either yes or you either vote no and people will make up their mind – that’s the political aspect of it and you guys want to presumably you want to promote it and legalise it and at the moment you are losing the battle and all I said yesterday was you are losing the battle because people like me who’ve been around a while, had some children, raised a family, have seen the damage and the danger of this and have more experience that people like you who don’t.

Chloe:

And I have seen the damage and the danger that this has caused and all of the damage and the danger…

Audio ends.

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