Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan: Saving post shops one referendum at a time

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Let’s vote on everything, starting with a good, honest drug.
NZ Post is great if you want to impress an older person, in three days' time, with a hand-written thank you card. Photo / Richard Robinson
NZ Post is great if you want to impress an older person, in three days' time, with a hand-written thank you card. Photo / Richard Robinson

Did nobody see this coming? NZ Post is in trouble. Well, surprise, surprise. The Post Office does nothing for you to update your status, help you play games, or help you find a date within your postal code. In other words, it does nothing for your basic appetites. Instead, it's only good for being goodie-good. NZ Post is great if you want to impress an older person, in three days' time, with a hand-written thank you card. I don't think any industry has ever prospered from virtue. The only way postal business will grow is if they put medicinal cannabis on the glue on stamps.

NZ Post needs business. Humans need jobs. The Government needs tax.

Here's the solution. We need another postal referendum. NZ should adopt a referendum economy. We've already shown we can have a referendum on the head of a pin - the shape of a fern, and what colours it should contain, and how it makes us feel. Imagine if we devoted that amount of debate, engagement and activism to something that has human consequences, with measurable differences to people's suffering and happiness.

How about a referendum to legalise cannabis? (You could add the word "medicinal" in there. You could add "for the terminally ill". You could add "to alleviate suffering".)

Granted, we shouldn't need a referendum to decide about cannabis. Ideally, we'd have political representatives, guided by doctors, to sort this thing out, while we get on with our own stuff. But plainly under the Minister of Bow Ties, that's not happening. And a referendum will be good for the economy, so let's go.

Here are the choices. If yes, the profits from marijuana get taken from criminal hands, and the government receives tax. The quality, purity and potency is regulated by the Ministry of Cannabis and Ganja. Health information (including warnings) are provided. Cannabis adopts the connoisseur cachet of wine, single malt or cigars.

Prestige labels position themselves at the premium end. We'd see commercials. Bond-like, a tuxedo-rocking silver fox pulls out a platinum fountain pen. After signing a credit card bill, he flips its cap to reveal it's also an e-cigarette. Our hero stipulates his fetish for a certain tendril of a certain leaf, and activating the blue light, he inhales with thoughtful appreciation - before defeating an adversary with an attack of laughter.

In another sector of the market, there'd be the organic. There'd be the Cuban. There'd probably be the manuka. There'd probably be the slimming marijuana which skews female. Other brands would be lower decile: they'd use words like "mate", and their ads would focus on the lithe females who work in the marijuana factory.

And like lamb or milk powder, we'd export the best stuff. (Indeed, in combination with lamb and milk powder: the value-add.)

In a cannabis referendum, that would be the "yes" option.

If "no", we'd have the situation we do now. Criminals would profit from marijuana. Distracted from crimes that have actual victims, police would instead monitor citizens deemed to be having the wrong type of fun. Prisons would prosper, and private companies that deliver prison services would suck life from each of our spines, like the Matrix.

Think of all the accidents of history that need fixing.

Alcohol can symbolise celebration, success, prestige, mateship. Marijuana? That's a drug.

Why? Because timing. Timing is everything.

It's the butterfly effect. One badly written phrase in the US Constitution and 200 years later, America has fewer rules about owning an assault rifle than they do about driving a car. Why? Because, um, look - Mexicans!

Take religion. If a religion existed before we were born, we give it more respect than a more recent religion. We mock Scientology, but we take much more care mocking Islam. Brian Tamaki gets away with running what in my opinion is a scam, untaxed, with promises he'll never have to back up, which he hasn't even had to invent - because his business falls within a box we deem sacred and untouchable. But if L Ron Hubbard had existed 1000 years ago, and Christ had come later, by now we'd have just finished a long weekend called Xenu Friday, and supermarkets would be getting rid of Tom Cruise buns.

Tax them all. JK Rowling's product is fiction too, and she pays tax. So why should religion be exempt? It doesn't restrict freedom of religion. Choose whatever religion floats your ark. They'll all be taxed equally.

It might be blasphemy, but yes, let's tax Apple and Google too. And good, honest drugs should pull their weight too. Let the referendums begin.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan's books of humour include ‘America on 5 Bullets a Day’ and ‘An Asian at my Table’. Before comedy, he graduated with honours in law and his legal research was published in the New Zealand Law Journal. His TV work includes a documentary in which he trained to be a casino croupier. He once held his breath for 3 minutes and 50 seconds. Visit RaybonKan.com

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