Asking those who smoke dope if it should be made legal is like asking the foxes to count the chickens. Of course, they will be saying it should be legally available.
In a radio interview, a dealer in marijuana said that yes making it legal would be a good idea and, yes there should be an age limit for purchasing but did not seem to see this was at odds with his willingness to sell it to anyone, regardless of their age at the moment.
The dissonance of this position rang like a bell and clanged on in my thoughts for some time as a reminder that many who do smoke dope regularly are themselves not the best judges of what may or may not be good for others.
Some years ago, there was a strong movement pushing for possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use to be managed as a minor offence – like the equivalent of a parking ticket. The idea was that you could still get busted for having bags of the stuff and selling it to others.
This was a reasonable approach. It came unstuck because those touting this law change were listening to ideas of what constituted a 'small amount for personal use' provided by users who wanted this 'small' amount to be far larger that was actually reasonable so the concept collapsed under the weight of over indulgent self-interest.
If the proposed change to the laws around cannabis are to be meaningful, those drafting the legislation and the wider general public need to know and understand what research says about the long-term ramifications of legalising cannabis.
The other example of foxes in the chicken coop (warning - mixed metaphor ahead) is the crocodile tears from National MPs over the perceived failures of the Government's housing programme when part of the problem is that during their nine years in power they did absolutely nothing to tackle the housing crisis.
Over that time, they could have built hundreds of homes to boost the stock of available social housing but instead they let the market decide - which is the equivalent of inviting the foxes for dinner at the chook house.
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If National do want to get some traction and garner voter support, they need to provide some solutions instead of just indulging in pathetic tilting at the windmills (Labour coalition) as if they were giants.
National say, as the opposition, their role is to hold the Government to account. It seems they are missing the other part of the job which is to offer alternative, sound, well researched solutions. The John Key smile / wave away complex social problems era is over.
This complacency has only made the issues harder to resolve. There is the option of actually work together across the benches to narrow the ever-widening poverty gap. That would be a stronger signal from National MPs to the electorate than all the 'huffing and puffing we will blow your policy down' approach. NB: That quote was from the big bad wolf not a fox but neither of them should be allowed to count the chickens or blow down houses.
The Labour coalition agreement with NZ First is proving to be a very heavy ball and chain. It must be aggravating to have Winston Peters, as leader of NZ First, stamping on policy that could bring social equity.
He is often described as the wily old fox and this coalitionhas given him unparalleled access to the chicken coop. At some point over the next few months we will see the feathers fly when the PM decides she has had enough of his power games.
Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is an opinion generator, musician and social worker.