Bennett takes pot shots at cannabis debate

Paula Bennett has launched into her new role as National’s spokesperson on drug reform with a lot of gusto and questionable assertions – put another way, with bullshit bluster.

Claire Trevett (NZH): National’s Paula Bennett takes on Big Pot

Bennett’s job is to appease the conservative base in National while trying to look as if the party is being constructive about the issue of liberalising cannabis laws.

Bennett announced she was undecided on the matter and a realist rather than “a prude”.

She has not led a sheltered life and can not be dismissed as an arch-conservative on this issue, although her initial comments might look that way. There are political reasons for that.

The issue feeds in nicely to the law and order narrative National is pushing, and the hope voters will decide the Government is distracted by social reforms and punish Labour accordingly.

Judging from Bennett’s beginning, National is likely to continue to beat the drum against liberalisation.

It is ripe for a bit of scaremongering and Bennett was up for the job.

She said she had many questions and her own vote would depend on the regime wrapped around any reforms.

She had many answers too which indicated she may well not be undecided.

She warned of the downfall of decent society as we know it should marijuana be decriminalised. Not a crevice of New Zealand would be weed-free.

She predicted that in 30 years time, those who voted to decriminalise in 2020 would be apologising to their children.

Weed iceblocks would be there right in the supermarket chiller next to those delicious Kapiti plum ice creams. Children would be buying dollar mixes of electric puha lollies. Mr Whippy would become Mr Ganja.

Russell Brown, an authority on drug issues, took issue with Bennett.

I can’t help but note that both of the above claims are well-worn Bob McCoskrie talking points. Does National really want to go *there*?

Going by Bennett’s opening pot shots it appears that it is a deliberate strategy by her and National.

And finally for now: if you don’t want kiddy cannabis lollies, propose that we follow all the other jurisdictions that prohibit them. We’re not fucking helpless here. Parliament will define exactly how this works.

Chloe Swarbrick also takes issue with Bennett’s bullshit bluster. Stuff: Chloe Swarbrick accuses Paula Bennett of ‘cynical politics’ over drug debate

When asked by host Hayley Holt if the ‘War on Drugs’ was working, National’s deputy leader said it wasn’t.

“Oh goodness, it can’t be. We see too many people addicted, too many ruined lives, too much of it in our streets, from meth to synthetics and others.”

Bennett called herself “relatively open minded” to drug reform and potential marijuana legalisation, but said there were still many more questions to be answered.

If she is open minded it doesn’t show. It looks like she has a deliberate anti-reform agenda in mind.

“It scares me and it should. I’ve got kids I don’t want people dating people who are addicted.”

Bennett said she was concerned that legalisation would mean more companies marketing towards children in the same way that alcopops or RTDs appealed to younger drinkers.

“Where it has been legalised, there has been a huge increase in the number of people under the age of 18 who have taken marijuana and there is evidence that it can fry little brain cells when you’re younger. That is of concern to me.”

Swarbrick agreed that there were concerns that were being addressed, and they were being debated openly.

Swarbrick challenged Bennett, asking what evidence the National MP was referring to. Bennett said that the lack of evidence was part of the problem, because it had been on the market for such short time, but claimed that in Canada and the eight US states where cannabis has been legalised, there had been a six per cent increase in car crashes and “more young people showing up to emergency departments with drug issues.”

Swarbrick accused Bennett of relying on the “thoroughly debunked” Rocky Mountain report. She was referring to a 2017 report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a US government funded drug prohibition enforcement program in Colorado.

The report was widely criticised for inaccuracies and bias. Forbes labelled the report “dishonest.” In one instance, the report included a column chart showing a dramatic increase in “marijuana-related emergency department visits” between 2012 and 2013 when the legislation took effect, even though the report’s own footnotes noted that “2011 and 2012 emergency department data reflects [sic] incomplete reporting statewide. Inferences concerning trends, including 2011 and 2012, should not be made.”

Swarbrick said the use of that report “seems a lot like a bit of a cynical political move that belittles and degrades the tone of the debate”.

More than a bit of cynical politics from Bennett.

Bennett said Swarbrick was being “passive aggressive and “trying to put me down,” but said she’s “been in politics for far too long to jump at that one”.

That’s a ridiculous and worrying retort from Bennett. She wasn’t being put down, her bullshit and unreliable sources were challenged with facts.

As I have already said, this is a very disappointing move by Bridges, National and Bennett. They have cynically decided to disrupt the drug debate for political purposes – but I think they will lose support with this approach. I for one am moving further from voting National than I have been for a decade.

38 Comments

  1. PartisanZ

     /  January 24, 2019

    @Trevett – “Bennett’s job is to appease the conservative base in National while trying to look as if the party is being constructive about the issue of liberalising cannabis laws.”

    That’s the nut in one shell! Short article …

    • Gezza

       /  January 24, 2019

      Remembering our position in the animal world as one of the four great apes, I enjoyed that little video clip. Chloe the young female looking to increase her standing in the pack gratuitously slapped the older female first and then the older female matriarch slapped her back.

      Paula’s on a hiding to nowhere with this approach. Lawn order is only going to appeal to hard core hard ass National voters. But Chloe’s points were well able to be made perfectly without the bitch slap.

  2. Credibility Rating, on Drug issues debate.. so far:

    Paula 2/10

    Chloe 11/10 🙂

    Natl just maybe… need to ‘stick to the facts’ & cut out the fear-mongering & misinfo. from discredited reports, that seem to echo ‘Reefer Madness’ ??

    • NOEL

       /  January 24, 2019

      AW Choe is really about getting here cannabis convictions clean slated.

      • Gezza

         /  January 24, 2019

        She has cannabis convictions?

      • Zedd

         /  January 25, 2019

        @noel

        IF ‘AW Choe’ is the Green MP.. then methinks you are making ‘unfounded allegations’.. 😦

  3. duperez

     /  January 24, 2019

    The debate will be free, open and rational. How do I know? Because on radio this morning host Hawkesby read out a text she’d got exemplifying that; “If Chloe Swarbrick is for it, I’m against it.” 🙃

    • PartisanZ

       /  January 24, 2019

      Cool! I’m in the clear … coz if Paula Bennett’s against it, I’m for it …

  4. Corky

     /  January 24, 2019

    National does have a problem..on one hand they need to appease the blue rinse brigade. On the other hand they need to appease Max Key’s generation.

    National have been caught out with their dearth of philosophical principles that aren’t open to revision at the drop of a hat.

    • Gezza

       /  January 24, 2019

      The problem is that National is showing itself to be very much behind the times and out of touch with the prevailing mood of the younger, more liberal voters, which includes of course the young and idealistic, as I recall being, and don’t regret being.

      So I agree with you, Corks.

      As Chloe showed, Paula came armed to that showdown with a firearm that Chloe clearly showed was loaded with faulty ammunition – basically she had no answers because she’s just not smart enuf to deal with someone really well-informed and sharp witted.

      She’s a street fighter. Chole’s a fencer.

      • Gezza

         /  January 24, 2019

        Hmm. That would have benefited greatly from a proper proof-read and edit. Very repetitious. A pukeko interrupted me. Sorry. Nevertheless I think the point is clear.

        The prevailing mood of the public I suspect is that the tuff on crime approach hasn’t worked and the tuff on drugs approach hasn’t worked – it’s time to at least try something different.

        Simon and Paula are taking the wrong tack.

    • PartisanZ

       /  January 24, 2019

      What makes you think Max Key’s generation would consider voting National?

      DId Max …?

  5. I was listening to ZB, briefly last evening. One caller rang to discuss these issues. The host said ‘We are not talking about cannabis… it does my head in !’ then cut her off

    This was not the first time that a ZB host has said something similar. IF you listen to this ‘talkback station’, it is clear that most of the hosts are ‘Right-leaning’ & appear; anti-cannabis reform ?

    Perhaps they are deliberately trying/being instructed to shut down the debate OR only wanting to push the ‘negative agenda’ on it ? :/

    ….. just sayin’…. 😦

    • Corky

       /  January 24, 2019

      Name the host. Marcus Lush? I have heard excellent debate on ZB regarding cannabis.

      • Zedd

         /  January 24, 2019

        now that would be telling.. but no it was just after Mr Lush 🙂

        • Corky

           /  January 24, 2019

          That’s in my bed time territory. I wouldn’t have a clue. They change hosts so often.

  6. Blazer

     /  January 24, 2019

    Bennett just reeks of insincerity and has perfected the faux smile and concerned eyebrow raise!

  7. adamsmith1922

     /  January 24, 2019

    Personally I favour medicinal cannabis; plus decriminalisation for possession.

  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 24, 2019

    This issue is a good test for Simon. He can either come up with constructive proposals or die as a dinosaur.

    • Blazer

       /  January 24, 2019

      There is no doubt dep dawg Bennet is far more eloquent than Mr Bridges regarding media interviews.

  9. Pickled Possum

     /  January 24, 2019

    Remember when bennett was ceo of msd she allowed the cuts that was available to her. Then cut at the knees the women who let us know their story. PB is on her climb to a over stuffed retirement package she is Not Real in the slightest just a puppet for the real mouths.
    The boys who no one trusts. PB will have no quams bout saying yea no yea no and like that other dick diva that said give them cake ….PB will revel in the praise and any one that curses her will have their everything splashed in the media. Dirty fighter that bennett

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  January 24, 2019

      Disagree, Possum. As I recall the woman making political attacks on Bennett was exposed as having received a heap of Govt assistance. Most people figured she got what she deserved.

      • Pickled Possum

         /  January 24, 2019

        No Al the woman was getting big money each week but had big out goings to warrent her high dbp. Also it was dirty tactic of pb to put this womans everything on line … the woman was studing to get a good paying job juggling children study and working for free. She was recieving a add on benefit that made it all managable … when she was cut off at the knees by bennett she had a say about why did bennett cut a rung out of the ladder to a paid job .. off the benefit. PB made that woman feel like a bludger when she was trying to keep it altogether. Way to go bennett she is a C U Next Tuesday goil alright.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  January 24, 2019

          As far as I know Bennett simply exposed the truth. If that cut the complaint off at its knees so be it. The complainant had the Lefty media on her side if there was any truthful and rational comeback to be had but all they tried to do was shutdown Bennett’s right to state the true facts. Disgraceful.

        • Corky

           /  January 24, 2019

          They came after Bennett, Cuz. And Bennett took those pampered prats out. Those whiners were earning more than many people on a wage at that time. The base rate was available on the Winz website.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 24, 2019

            As I remember it, there were two who were complaining loud and long, and Paula Bennett was driven to say what they were being given (I wouldn’t call it earning) in benefits and various extras. The loudest whinger was, I think, the one whose income was the highest and it was indeed above the average wage.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 24, 2019

              One was on $715 a week and the other $554.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 24, 2019

              The median income was $537.

            • Pickled Possum

               /  January 25, 2019

              miss, you are non-informed… depending upon your circumstances your take-home pay will just about cover your living expenses …a lady from wahi was happily married… brought a house ….her and hubby brought new furniture to go …. happy happy till he had an affair and they broke up.
              As all the new furniture was under her name she had a massive outgoing now. …before they paid halve each … now she was up to her neck in debt ….so she was paid by winz the going rate 1700.00 a week.
              I kid you not. Then there are the women that are all of a sudden lose their husband boyfriends or get sick … this is why Mickey Savage introduced the benefits so people who are struggling can benefit from others.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 25, 2019

              The UB was introduced in 1930, 5 years before he was PM.

              I really can’t see why the taxpayer should pay for someone’s furniture and fork out $88,400 a year.

  10. Blazer

     /  January 25, 2019

    ‘so she was paid by winz the going rate 1700.00 a week.’!!!!!!!!!!👀

  1. Bennett takes pot shots at cannabis debate — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition