It would appear, if Paula Bennett's Cabinet paper leak is accurate, the Government today is considering, once again, how to soften up laws around dope.
Make no mistake: this is a government soft on drugs.
There is a vote to be held in association with the next election. What they're considering today, apparently, is what sort of question that is, and what goes along with it. A pre-published bit of legislation, some ideas around potential legislation, or actual legislation that would potentially be enacted should the vote go the "yes" way.
The specifics aren't important. What's important is the madness of doing what they're doing.
I am astounded New Zealand First is going along with this.
Just this week, we had the story of some kids in the Far North planting trees, and the trouble employers have getting them off drugs.
For everyone they look at to hire, they might find one who's got potential. The rest apparently fail drug tests. They can't work, they can't participate, they can't be anything close to being what they could be if it weren't for their drug habits.
This part of New Zealand is New Zealand First country. Peters and Jones are from this very area ravaged by drugs, a region so in trouble $100 million and counting of their own Provincial Growth Fund money has been pumped into the area to try to turn matters around.
And that's before you get to the rest of the country, and the health and social bill that we pay that runs into the billions trying to sort out the mess that drugs cause.
Now, before we go any further, don't give me the "what about alcohol" crap. Yes, booze is trouble too, but having established problems isn't an excuse to loosen up in other areas, so you can have even more problems added to the ones you've already got. Only an idiot thinks that makes sense.
Drugs are dangerous. Ask a medical professional, ask a counsellor who deals in the area, ask people who know anything about dope, ask people in Colorado about their reform and what's happened to the communities and businesses there.
For a Government that spends so much time on social harm, ill, and consequence, it seems inconceivable they would voluntarily invite more trouble to their door. And yet that is not just what they're doing, but actually promoting.
The polls show any vote would be tight, which is your next trouble. There will be no clear mandate, even if a yes vote gets up. The referendum precedent is dangerous as well: why does something as insidious as drug use get its own vote?
Why not tax? Or welfare? Or climate change policy? Answer, they're afraid of the result. They only want to put to the punter what they think they can manipulate to their favour, then call it an exercise in democracy.
Why don't they just put their policy up in an election campaign? We are Labour, we are the Greens, and we are pro-dope. It can be part of their policy mix.
It's 2019, and we have more knowledge than we've ever had on the dangers of drugs. All drugs; their harm, their cost, their destructive presence in virtually all parts of our society, and this Government wants more where that came from. They are insane.