Swarbrick putting Ardern, Clark to shame on drug rhetoric and inaction

There are serious and growing drug problems in new Zealand, especially with P (methamphetamine) and synthetic substitutes for cannabis. I have slammed the Government for being shamefully lame as people suffer and die- see  Clark, Ardern shamefully lame not urgently addressing drug problems.

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick seems to be a lone voice amongst MPs on taking urgent and effective action (where is James Shaw on this?)

thinks quite a lot::

The War on Drugs has not and will not work. Moral crusades are costing lives. Nowhere in the world has been able to get rid of drugs, or reduce drug harm, by ratcheting up penalties.

With the synthetics crisis, Aotearoa New Zealand has an crucial decision: will we do what works, or will we just do “something”?

The easy “something” is to beat the punitive drum, in an attempt to satisfy people we “take this seriously.” Taking drug harm seriously looks like being brave enough to confront decades of evidence and genuinely treat drugs as a health issue.

Treating drugs as a health issue does not look like locking more people up. We actually have ample evidence to show that increasing penalties fills our jail cells, but doesn’t decrease access or supply to drugs.

Look to Methamphetamine, which has under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 held Class A life imprisonment for decades. There’s been no reduction in demand or consumption, but increases, according to Ministry of Health data.

Evidence demonstrates that the only real way to tackle drugs is to focus on decreasing demand. We have a successful model in the collaboration between Northland DHB&Police, reducing demand for P, shifting resources to health, which we could expand and roll out across the country.

We need to do something, but that something desperately needs to be what works. If we cow to law-and-order rhetoric, if we fail to be courageous enough to pay attention to the research, we’ll repeat our past mistakes.

Repeating our past mistakes is more than not good enough when the evidence shows more of the same will cost people’s lives. Especially when those unnecessary deaths are the catch-cry of those calling for knee-jerk criminalisation.

The believe we need to genuinely treat drugs as a health issue. That looks like ending the War on Drugs. That looks like rejecting greater penalisation, which we all know, because the evidence shows, just won’t work.

Swarbrick could do with more concerted support from other Green MPs on this.

And somehow they need to push Ardern into converting her lofty rhetoric into actual and urgent action. Not just talking about twiddling a bit some time in the future. Urgent reform is required.

Ardern has talked about her government being progressive and wonderful, but she and her ministers are failing to walk the walk on drugs.

Swarbrick is putting them to shame.


  1. Ray

     /  October 5, 2018

    More talk, “let’s form a focus group” waffle from the women who has nothing to show for her first 9 years in Parliament.
    Nothing to see here.

    • Blazer

       /  October 5, 2018

      any suggestions on how to tackle the problems?

      • Ray

         /  October 5, 2018

        Excellent question Blaze
        Well the Portuguese seem to have had better results than most, it has been running for 17 years and while not perfect seems to far better results than the US led “War on Drugs”.

  2. robertguyton

     /  October 5, 2018

    It’s no surprise a Green is at the forefront of change that requires clear thinking. It’s no surprise that all other parties are dragging the chain.

    • Swarbrick is at the forefront. I don’t see any sign that the Green Party is giving her the support this deserves.

      • Kevin

         /  October 6, 2018

        That’s because the Greens are basically a Prohibitionist party. Cannabis just happens to be an exception.

  3. robertguyton

     /  October 5, 2018

    “The @NZGreens believe we need to genuinely treat drugs as a health issue. That looks like ending the War on Drugs. That looks like rejecting greater penalisation, which we all know, because the evidence shows, just won’t work.”

    Lightyears ahead on this and so many other issues. Hampered by the fearful and insecure “others”.

    • robertguyton

       /  October 5, 2018

      “others” = the other political parties in Government and the people who put them there.

    • Ray

       /  October 5, 2018

      But only one MP prepared to do the hard yards, where are the rest?

      • robertguyton

         /  October 5, 2018

        Backing her, behind the scenes. The point of a spear penetrates better than the haft thrown sideways.

        • Ray

           /  October 5, 2018

          A bit like you Robert ( just a supporter, not a paid up member of the Party) eh!

        • The Greens have been ‘behind the scenes’ far too much on drug issues.

          Shaw and Davidson should be leading prominently on this. Sad to see the lack of priority on it, still (Greens have failed to prioritise drug law reform for a long time).

          • robertguyton

             /  October 5, 2018

            The Greens have been busy, winning seats on the Government side of the House. From those hard-won positions, they’ve had their hands more than full, learning the ropes and balancing their priorities, testing what can and can’t be achieved in the short time they’ve had so far. Fortunately for all of us, it looks as though they’ll be in those seats for an extended period and as they tick-off policy wins, the issue of drug reform will move up the list. In the meantime, without making a great song and dance of the issue, they are progressing change for the better, through Chloe. Good job. It’s funny to hear criticism of The Greens for being tardy on drug reform, given the mountains of criticism they have had heaped on them over the past years for their promotion of drug reform. The nasty, personal attacks on Nandor by Peter Dunne spring to mind 🙂 but there are any number of instances from other politicians (Winston prominent amongst them) that I could cite; Bill English, John Key…ho hum…

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  October 5, 2018

              Other people have said these things, she is hardly a pioneer.

              The problem is how to put it into practice.

  4. High Flying Duck

     /  October 5, 2018

    I heard Chloe Swarbrick on Larry Williams yesterday. She was clear, articulate and well informed. It was a pleasant surprise to hear well argued points and counterpoints. If people like her can make headway in the Greens and supplant the ignorant virtue signalling that infests the top at the moment, there is hope for them yet.
    And she made some very valid points. There has to be a point where in the face of worse and worse outcomes “more of the same” is not promoted at the magical solution.

    • Gezza

       /  October 5, 2018

      She’s either going to be a co-leader or move on to something better in a relatively short period, imo. Chloe doesn’t muck about. She’s very focused on getting a high-powered job.

  5. It is great to see JAG & now Chloe, finally trying to push reform.. BUT I personally was very disappointed, that after Nandor left, the Greens took on a mantra of ‘Its a policy, but NOT a priority’. Many folks thought the greens are pro-cannabis, but for several years it was just rhetoric.. now in Govt. they seem more determined to see REAL change !!

    Jacinda stated; she refused to sign up to USA/MrTs reaffirmation of continuing the WAR on Drugs.. recently at UN. It is time this Govt. moved beyond the hui & got to the dui (less talk more action).

    Time to actually LOOK at the ‘Elephant in the room’; 45 deaths attributed to Synthetics in a year & they are talking about reclassifying them as Class A; ‘tough on drugs’ rhetoric.. rather than actioning ‘It should be a Health Issue’ as they keep saying.

    It IS passed the time, to regulate/decrim. natural herb & look towards the model in Portugal etc. for all drug use.. which ‘Aunty Helen’ called the Gold Standard.

    “Good onya Ms Chloe” 🙂

    • then again maybe the calls for ‘Tougher penalties’ even the death penalty, may have become a self fulfilling prophesy.. for the 45+ dead folks, who resorted to synthetics because they have become cheaper & more available than natural herbZ ?

      they do say ‘It is darkest before the dawn !’
      but.. B-S is still B-S.. regardless of how you dress it up… eh 😦 😦

  6. Kevin

     /  October 6, 2018

    The way to reduce the demand for illegal drugs is to create legal alternative markets. That means legalising and regulating ALL recreational drugs.