Swarbrick and Bennett debate legalisation of personal use of cannabis

On NZ Q&A last night Chlöe Swarbrick and Paula Bennett debated the legalisation of cannabis for personal use. This will be put to the public next year in a referendum.

Bennett seems to have changed her mind. In May she refused to debate Swarbrick – Cannabis referendum: Paula Bennett on why she won’t debate Chlöe Swarbrick

Last night:

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick argues it’s time to reduce the harm caused by a drug market controlled by criminals. National MP Paula Bennett says there isn’t enough evidence to support legalisation.

The Spinoff:  A play-by-play of Paula Bennett and Chlöe Swarbrick’s cannabis referendum debate on Q&A

…they’ve come head-to-head on the cannabis referendum, with heated exchanges on social media about the issue, and Paula’s reluctance/refusal (choose applicable given your generosity) to debate Swarbrick, the Green Party spokesperson for the issue.

I’ll be perfectly honest: I came into this expecting, and kind of wanting, an utter shitfight. Two politicians, on relatively opposing sides of an issue, on the television?

What I got was instead… an informed, low heat, debate about an issue that two politicians are informed about, are passionate about, and happen to be on opposite sides of. Which is really nice, and comforting to watch.

Sounds promising. I will watch the debate and read the Talking points at The Spinoff, who quote the final statements:

Chlöe Swarbrick:

“The point that I want to leave people with is that right now we have the worst possible situation. We are empowering the criminal underground and we know for a fact that 400,000 New Zealanders are using cannabis on an annual basis and 10% of New Zealanders will have tried cannabis by the time they’re 21. The majority of people will have been exposed to it while they’re at high school.

“We have the opportunity to have some kind of control over what is currently chaos and the best way to do that is to legally regulate cannabis and to ensure that we’re providing those wrap-around supports and that potential for the disruption in the supply chain with that duty of care imposed on those who are purchasing.”

Paula Bennett:

“We’re kidding ourselves if we think that our teens are all of a sudden going to stop consuming cannabis because we legalise it. They’ll still get it from the black market because they won’t be able to get it legally because they’ll be underage, and the harms and the dangers will still be there with them. There are real issues around impairment, drug driving, what it’ll mean.

“What I saw in Canada was that the 25 stores that were in one province were not enough, they were estimating going to 1000 within eight years because actually people have a right to have access to it. I’m not sure if I want that in New Zealand, I think we should wait, get more evidence from places like Canada and then debate it and decide as a country.”

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45 Comments

  1. I don’t know where Paula Bennett gets her information. I am Canadian. I cannot imagine any province ever and from what I can tell, no province has 25 stores. As for driving and drugs, in Saskatchewan there has been no issue. If anything, there are fewer people driving under the influence since the marijuana became legalized. All of the agencies that pretended it did not exist before, made such a performance when it became legalized that people don’t dare drive under the influence now.
    I don’t care if pot is legalized in NZ or anywhere else. I’ve never used it and I don’t plan to start.

    Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  22nd October 2019

    That’s an excellent debate from both Paula & Chloe. Both well-informed, made good arguments for their positions. Both respectful, informative, sensible. And Jack Tame steered it well, asked pertinent questions, & had obviously done his oen research and homework.

    That’s the best political discussion I’ve seen on whether or not we should legalise recreational cannabis.

    (I couldn’t imagine Simon Bridges carrying off a debate like that with such clarity & sense. Not in a million years. Never mind Judith, Simon. Your next challenger with a chance might actually end up being Paula!)

    Reply
  3. NOEL

     /  22nd October 2019

    Swarbrick continues in her opening on the health issue.
    No demand that decriminalization be returned to the available options.

    Time to have some honesty. It’s no longer about getting the addicted treated.
    It is now about choice with a legal supply.

    Also our prisons are not fill of addicted cannabis users. It’s time that crap was removed from the narrative.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  22nd October 2019

      Yes, that a foolish line for Chloe to run with. In her very opening remarks she said that it was time for us to “stop locking up users of cannabis & throwing away the key”.

      That was simply plain ridiculous. Everybody knows that doesn’t happen.

      I’m surprised she could be that stupid, tbh. Obvious bs like that harms her case from the outset.

      One of the biggest problems the legalise cannabis supporters are going to face is this relentless campaign of ads, now being regularly shown on TV1 during prime time news breaks. I googled it earlier to see who’s producing them, assuming it’s some conservative anti-legalisation group, but it turns out it’s the NZTA.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  23rd October 2019

        It’s an NZTA campaign you know. What would it be like if the government organised such a public propganda campaign about drink driving? Or, better still, about the UNTOLD harm done by alcohol in our society aside from being the leading cause of road deaths: things like domestic violence, child-abuse, sexual abuse and violent crime?

        Alcohol is far-and-away the most abused drug in Aotearoa New Zealand.

        Begs the question: Why focus on drug driving? And why NOT include information such as: Almost none (and possibly zero) fatal accidents are caused by drivers under the influence of cannabis alone. The fatalities are always mixes of meth, alcohol, synthetics and cannabis, meth or synnies and cannabis, or meth or synnies alone.

        http://blogs.seattletimes.com/pot/2015/02/11/federal-study-drivers-who-have-consumed-pot-are-not-more-likely-to-crash-than-those-who-are-sober/

        The authorities all the way up to the Coroner continue to label synthetics as “synthetic cannabis” when they are nothing of the kind. Why?

        Why ever not have “choice with a legal supply”? We have this with alcohol, which, on the Drug Harm Index is 72% harmful to self-and-others, compared to cannabis 20%. (I wonder where Fast-Food, Soft Drinks, sugar, salt and fat laden processed foods come? Or herbicides, pesticides and agri-chemicals?)

        Chloe Swarbrick was talking evidence-based common sense, decency and public good. Paula Bennett was towing an inconsistent and at times irrational Party Line to maintain National’s Right-Wing, Christian-Conservative voter base and scare a few NZFirst voters over to Blue …

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  23rd October 2019

          The fatalities are always mixes of meth, alcohol, synthetics and cannabis, meth or synnies and cannabis, or meth or synnies alone.

          Well, I haven’t watched all 22 videos, but I don’t buy that. In at least one of those videos the driver is said to have only been on “weed”.

          I had two minor accidents driving stoned (on some really strong, purple dope) when younger, just through weed-related forgetfulness & inattention (I forgot what gear I was in, in one of them, while parking – ran into someone’s bloody towbar. They went apeshit & I couldn’t even follow the conversation..

          The other was a lane change at speed without paying attention to my mirrors. Could have been fatal at the wrong time in the wrong place.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  23rd October 2019

            However, all those other questions are pertinent and do need to be asked.

            Anti-drink driving and anti-DV campaigns on the whole are pretty rare and short-lived.

            Paula Bennett was towing an inconsistent and at times irrational Party Line
            Maybe. I didn’t spot it. Can you identify points where she was inconsistent & also where she was irrational?

            Reply
  4. Blazer

     /  22nd October 2019

    Paula is speaking from experience as a former stoner .Pass the joint at tattoo club apparently.
    Totally reinvented herself mentally and…physically.
    One very sad person imo.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  22nd October 2019

      Pity Simon Bridges isn’t capable of reinventing himself.

      Nothing wrong with leaving your past behind, regretting some of the things you did, & making positive changes in your life. Bennett has come a long way in developing ber capabilities as a politician. She’s surprised me with how well she can perform these days in situations loke this and in appearances on tv shows like the AM show.

      Putting aside your usual loathing for her & just looking at how she handled that debate, how do you think she did?

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  22nd October 2019

        She is a polished ,political performer these days.
        Her lack of moral virtue is a concern but a very National characteristic.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  22nd October 2019

          😎 👍🏼
          Fair enuf.

          Reply
        • Duker

           /  22nd October 2019

          “She is a polished ,political performer these days”
          All done with ‘a week’ of media training on this specific issue, and mock questions and answers on likely Swarbrick lines. Isnt it Ralston and his wife whos the trainer in the blue corner these days ?

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  22nd October 2019

            Aren’t they working with Mr Bridges!

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  22nd October 2019

            If you know you need media training & you go & get it, more power to your elbow. You can’t predict exactly how an interview / Q+A like this will go, so delivering a fine performance of rehearsed lines & off the cuff replies seamlessly is still a considerable accomplishment.

            A media trainer still has to have someone with intelligence, a working memory, & just general nouse to work with to get good results.

            You can probably make a safe bet that professional media trainers have had a try with Bridges. Enuf said !

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  22nd October 2019

              Watch out Simon ….Paula has improved out of sight with her longer public performances. But still isnt it ‘all performance’, after all she could have talked about her past honestly and why shes changed her view

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  22nd October 2019

      Unless Blazer has evidence that Paula Bennett smoked dope at tattoo clubs, he would be advised not to say that she did so. This is called libel.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  22nd October 2019

        Is it libel if he says, “I have heard it said that Paula Bennett smoked dope at tattoo clubs”?
        Or, “Rumour has it that …”

        Surely Blazer doesn’t have to attend the David Farrar Academy of Creating Impressions Without Committing Libel. 🙂

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  23rd October 2019

          Rumour has it that Katherines’s favourite song was..’leap up and down..throw your knickers in the …air’.

          Reply
      • Griff.

         /  22nd October 2019

        “I haven’t done hard drugs at all,” Ms Bennett told media.
        “As far as marijuana, I was a girl of the 80s and grew up in Taupō and have tried it at a very light level.
        “It didn’t agree with me, to be honest. I do like a party and I found it put me to sleep, so I was much more interested in enjoying myself.”
        https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/do-like-party-and-found-put-me-sleep-paula-bennett-reveals-cannabis-experience

        No crank eh Paula even though we both know it was endemic in your peer group back then.
        Especially for party girls… Snort snort.

        Reply
  5. I noted:
    Paula could not help herself “legalise MARIJUANA” (whilst the debate is about Cannabis regulation).. politics 101 (confuse the issue & steer the debate)
    Paula said ‘We should wait….’ until… HELL freezes over ?!
    ..before Adults can legally use this plant..
    * although she did concede that prohibition (which she supports) is NOT stopping use or reducing harm

    Aotearoa/NZ is now being seen (by many other OECD countries) as a JOKE on this issue; most are moving forward, (at least ‘decrim.’ adults use)… whilst misinformation, demonisation & FEAR-mongering are still Front & centre on the Natl parties agenda on this…

    ‘Why is this so ?’ What is their real kaupapa: supporting the ongoing DRUG Prohibition ‘Industrial machine’ (more cops/prisons)?? 😦

    One thing Paula should be reminded of.. ‘BUT you cant fool all the people.. all the time’ even with this constant Fear-mongering from Natl

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  22nd October 2019

      I really do think you’re overcooking the confusion factor when someone says marijuana instead of cannabis, Zedd. To me & most of my generation, if you’re talking sbout recreational use of cannabis, MJ, dope, shit, weed, reefer, cones, doobies, etc – they’re all the same thing. When it comes to the reeferendum, people are gonna vote one way or the other on whether they think recreational use should be legalised, whatever one calls it.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  22nd October 2019

        Why is this so ?’ What is their real kaupapa: supporting the ongoing DRUG Prohibition ‘Industrial machine’ (more cops/prisons)?? 😦

        Aww. Come on, Zedd. Get real buddy. There are some people with genuine concerns about the possible harm of adding another legal drug to the problems we already have with booze, e.g. on the roads, psychological addiction, impact on Pre-25 year old brain development, triggering of psychosis & ongoing mental health probs thereafter in some individuals who are genetically prone to developing schizophrenia ….

        It’s fine to pooh pooh these concerns, or say they can all be treated or minimised with education, but that’s guessing, & some people just don’t believe it will happen or it will eliminate the problems.

        And there are other folk with just plain old conservative views that anti drugs of any kind (including, or excepting, booze). National’s pitching for their votes.

        The idea that any political party is wanting to continue spending huge amounts of taxpayer money because they have some kind of vested interest that lets them profit from having to fund more cops & prisons doesn’t strike me as very realistic. They’d all stand to save & make far more for the govt coffers from legalising cannabis.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  22nd October 2019

          Yes. Its not the trendy dope shops in middle class areas with people in white coats behind the counter – who are all vetted by the Police.
          It will be in low income areas, numerous like $2 shops, run and operated by migrants on work visas who will work from 8am to midnight. Plus the street dealers who will congregate in those areas as well…. Police will continue to ignore the tinny sellers like before but it will just more open.

          Reply
          • Sunny

             /  22nd October 2019

            Agree Duker. We’ve just come back from Canada family holiday with my kids. We were surprised by the drug issues that East Vancouver in particular is facing filled with makeshift tent cities on the footpaths and opiod junkies. The cannabis shops are widespread and the smell is common on the street. My issue is the normalisation of serious drug use. Certainly my kids saw people shooting up in doorways, needlebins, gloves and empty needlepackets on the sidewalk, people smoking dope and shops advertising it. It’s not just the USA with it’s war on drugs that has failed. Vancouver has also been battling one of the most serious opiod epidemics and their more liberal approach doesn’t seem to be more effective. They are now looking at treating opiod addicts with government supplied Heroin. I also thought it was interesting that it hasn’t ended the black market or gangs. 85% of cannabis still sold on the black market. It definitely wasn’t such a visible issue in the upmarket neighbourhoods. But Downtown Vancouver it’s a serious issue that they are struggling to get on top of. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/it-s-getting-worse-and-worse-dtes-residents-say-neighbourhood-is-falling-apart-1.5248298

            Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  23rd October 2019

          If there’s people with “real concerns about adding another drug”, why the fuck don’t they do something about the UNTOLD harm alcohol causes!?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  23rd October 2019

            Christ. 😠

            Do I have to spell everything out for you?

            Everybody’s making too much money from it. 🙄

            Reply
            • PartisanZ

               /  23rd October 2019

              And everybody could make shitloads more money out of cannabis Gezza!

              And do shitloads less harm!

      • Its not about confusion Gezza,

        the MPs know exactly what this is about: most fear-mongering Natl MPs call it ‘MJ’ whilst most Govt. MPs call it cannabis (its correct name)

        ‘Marijuana’ is a mexican slang word, deliberately thrashed in the media (1940s-) to create fear/confusion about the ‘Evil, insidious Narcotic’ (aka: Hemp) that supposedly causes mass insanity & is the ‘gateway’ to HARD DRUGS ;
        Its all fear-mongering & B-S, that some unscrupulous MPs choose to continue/perpetrate

        Whilst it is true, that some folks may suffer, these issues, most do NOT !

        Methinks it is time that Natl, explain why they promoted ‘Synthetic cannabis’ (poison) that has caused many deaths, but still continue demonising the Natural herb, which has not been responsible for any (from its use) as far as they know 😦

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  22nd October 2019

          Oh for heaven’s sake, Zedd. Cannabis is a much more evil-sounding word than marijuana. You’re ranting about something of absolutely no consequence at all in the overall scheme of things. In my view, if anything, folk would be far more likely to vote to legalise marijuana because sll it did was chill out the peace-loving Woodstock hippies, & and vote against legalising cannabis because everyone now constantly hears that this drug cannabis has now got potent as hell!

          Put the Doobie Brothers on & just relax about this name issue.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  22nd October 2019

            I agree; most people use the names interchangeably. Cannabis, marijuana, dope, weed…what does it matter ? Zedd is making much ado about nothing here. It’s pointless, Zedd. and makes you look like a nitpicker.

            Reply
            • PartisanZ

               /  23rd October 2019

              Oh well, think about names when you sit down tonight with a glass of poison, a mug of liquid courage or a bottle of devil’s piss and get yourself embalmed, hammered or tanked …

          • ok, btw IF you actually read my comment, this is not about whether folks call it pot, weed. herb or hemp.. its about politics.. pure & simple :/

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  23rd October 2019

              It may well be, and if you read my comments, you will see I address that matter – they are after the tight sphincter voter blocs.

              I am simply saying that calling it MJ does not generate fear or the perception marijuana is somehow worse and different to cannabis. It’s still a common enuf term – one I actually tend to prefer to “cannabis”. It just trips off the tongue nicely. Also it makes me feel like I can speak a bit of Spanish. 💃

              If someone thinks marijuana is a gateway drug drug to hard drugs, they also think cannabis is. They don’t get the two confused, imo, Do you have any non-toking friends who think this?

              I’ve got no idea why they legalised “synthetic cannabis”. I think they should reverse that decision. As you & Parti say it’s not cannabis; and the Emergency Departments are fed up with people coming in in serious mental strife and dangerous physical conditions caused by their taking god knows what bloody chemicals they have no idea about.

  6. PartisanZ

     /  23rd October 2019

    It’s all about confusion IMHO.

    Patai, Question: Is the referendum about the legalization of all cannabis, medicinal and recreational? Or is it about the legalization of cannabis for personal recreational use only?

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  23rd October 2019

      Try google
      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/112513203/cannabis-law-will-not-be-passed-ahead-of-referendum-would-set-age-at-20

      The medicinal side was legalised late last year, but it wasnt the looser side of medical like they have in the states
      Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  23rd October 2019

        Oh that’s as clear as fucken mud, that is! (I guess its vaguely clear its about ‘recreational’? However, not all pain is physical and some is existential)

        “Little described the referendum as “binding” because all of the parties in the current Government had committed to enacting the result of the referendum.

        However this doesn’t rule out the possibility of a Government made up of different parties either refusing to pass the bill or modifying it. Little called on the National Party to make a similar commitment.”

        And Jesus wept! (Then threw the money-changers out of the Temple!)

        I gather Labour’s first ‘Claytons Legislation’ means you are temporarily exempt from prosecution for smoking or consuming it if you are terminally-ill or have irremedial chronic pain, probably requiring a doctors certificate, something like that?

        I wonder if there’s been a sharp rise in such medical conditions and requests from doctors?

        But its illegal to grow it and/or to supply it to someone who is terminally-ill or in chronic pain.

        And the most recent Amendment makes the average police constable arbiter of “the public interest” via an expanded definition of “police discretion” …

        We sure do live in an ‘advanced’ country!

        Reply
  7. Great News: Paula is apparently joining the cross-party group 🙂

    Reply
  1. Swarbrick and Bennett debate legalisation of personal use of cannabis — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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