The essence of the my drug law reform policy is a kind of licensing system, similar to a driver’s license, whereby users are allowed to purchase and consume drugs once they’ve passed a test.
Outlaw alcohol advertising
Alcohol clearly causes a lot of harm in New Zealand, from violence, to sexual assault, to addiction.
I think it would be heavy handed to try outright stop people from drinking.
However, a low hanging fruit for improving New Zealand’s drinking culture, would be to outlaw alcohol advertising – which serves to normalise our drinking culture.
A drugs license
A new form of ID, like a driver’s license would be created.
Purchasing drugs, including tobacco and alcohol and cannabis, would each require a separate endorsement on the license. The license would be required to be presented when purchasing the drug.
Acquiring an endorsement would require sitting a test that demonstrates that the user is aware of the risks and potential harms of the drug they are seeking endorsement for.
The risks that awareness is being tested for would be fact based.
The test might be administered by a doctor.
For example, the tobacco endorsement test might involve test that the user is aware that:
- Tobacco has a high addiction potential
- The yearly cost of a regular cigarette habit
- The causal relationship between cigarette smoking and illness
The test for for alcohol endorsement might involve testing that the user is aware that:
- Alcohol has a high addiction potential.
- Excess alcohol can be fatal due to poisoning.
- Consuming alcohol makes driving unsafe.
- Consuming alcohol can cause regrettable behaviour.
- Consuming alcohol can cause violent behaviour.
- There is a correlation between consuming alcohol and being either a victim or a perpetrator of sexual assault
Tests for cannabis are in my impression a little hard to find risks to tests for. Unlike alcohol and tobacco and alcohol, the risks of cannabis aren’t as pronounced as the relationship between cigarettes and cancer, or alcohol and car crashes.
As mentioned before – the risks awareness is being tested for, would need to be science and fact based. The New Zealand Drug Foundation provides a helpful, though not comprehensive summary of some health effects.
You could test for awareness of things like:
- Cannabis can cause anxiety
- There’s the potential that cannabis exasperate symptoms for people already susceptible to mental illness.
- The risk of psychological addiction.
Three categories of drugs
I would put drugs in three categories:
- Recreational consumer drugs. eg. tobacco, alcohol, cannabis
These drugs would be free for commercial sale to anyone who has the endorsement.
The cannabis industry would like resemble the beer industry. You would have some large commercial operations, as well as craft operations.
- Higher risk psychedelic drugs eg. MDMA (ecstacy), LSD
These drugs would, as well as require the user to pass a test, would be prescription only. ie. everytime a user wanted to consume these drugs, they would need to ask their doctor for a prescription. This would prevent people from taking these drugs recklessly.
An option to consider here is that psychedelics could only be administered by an authorised medical professional. What could happen is that drugs could be administered in a controlled, research manner, even if the situation was at a festival.
- Addictive hard drugs. eg. methamphetamine, heroin
These drugs should be treated as too dangerous to be administered freely.
However, for people who are already addicted, their addiction should be treated as a health condition.
Government run distribution centers that give administer the drugs, and track how much a user is using. At least that way addicts aren’t beholden to drug dealers, and the health system has a good deal of monitoring of peoples habits.