Your time starts, now!
So, 61 days until the sun sets on September 19th and you’ll have all cast your votes in the 2020 General Election and the accompanying referenda. Nice. Hopefully you spent those 61 days doing your best to lobby your flatmates, friends, family, Tinder hook-ups, begrudging co-workers, Uber/Ola drivers, checkout assistants, random passers-by and professors, because those wanting to change NZ’s archaic drug laws cannot sleep on this issue.
There is no single, well-organised, and coordinated YES campaign. The YES lobby is made up of various disparate organisations with varying slickness and reach — such as Norml NZ, Make It Legal NZ, NZ Drug Foundation, YES2020, The ALCP (you should follow them all) — and of these, really only the NZ Drug Foundation has mainstream media credibility and reach. It’s for this reason that it is vital for all those who want the law to change to get shit done. I suggest you start by scoping out your communities for:
A) Sympathetic though apathetic folks who have not enrolled to vote. Get them to enrol!
B) People who don’t know that you use cannabis, who may vote NO, but who you reckon upon learning of your vice may regard the YES option more warmly. “Hey, mum, you know how I’ve nearly completed my degree, have fulfilling relationships with my peers, and am in good health? Well, you should know that I occasionally use cannabis, and that under the current law that makes me a criminal.” NOTE: this one works better if you actually have your shit together and are not a stereotypical stoner. I love you guys, but the nay-sayers do not. Stereotypes, please focus on getting your unenrolled wook-mates to enrol and vote!
C) People who are open to learning about the issue and have not made up their minds, or who are thinking of voting NO because they think that will protect young people from using cannabis. Engage with these people and bring them the facts (you can refer to the interview with Professor Boden for such things)!
D) Lost causes. Don’t waste time on folks who have their blinders securely bolted up, who would never vote YES. Such discussions, at least for me, often end up in the awkward position where I realise they would happily lock me up for possessing a plant. These people are a tyrannical minority who ought not to have time wasted on them.
Some things to remember:
The referendum is not asking people whether cannabis is good or whether people should use cannabis, but merely, in our current situation where 80% of adults have tried cannabis, whether we should try our best to control its use (R20, licensed sellers, regulated products, a focus on health).
Currently, under prohibition, record numbers of people use cannabis. It looks to me like prohibition has failed to deliver on the one job it had.
Cannabis use in young people tends to decrease where it has been legalised overseas, and tends to increase in the boomer demographic.
You can buy a lethal dose of alcohol at 18 for $30 nearly anywhere in the country. You cannot physically consume a lethal dose of cannabis, short of choking on it.
Half of you are proof you can get blazed frequently and still get through uni.
Most people who are thinking of voting against the referendum believe that legalised cannabis will result in worse outcomes for people, particularly the young. They are not insane or evil, they just have the facts wrong.
I’m not sure what else to say other than God-speed and go get ‘em!
By Asher Etherington