An outline for drug law reform

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.

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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 endorsements

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:

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.

 

The trick to New Year Resolutions.

People are often discouraged from making New Years Resolutions – having the thought that they’re doomed to fail.

And if their resolution is to lose weight, quit smoking, or go for a run everyday, then they’re probably right.

If, by the end of January you haven’t started that diet, or you’ve missed a few running days, or you’re still smoking, it’s easy to see how someone would give up at the point, and ‘try again next year’.

The trick to New Year Resolutions – is to not make them these large lifestyle decisions that involve ongoing maintenance.

Instead – make your New Year Resolutions things you can do once, tick them off, and then they’re done.

For example, last year I had resolutions like:

  • Watch The Revenant 
  • Watch Batman vs Superman (See my review here).
  • Watch Independence Day: Resurgence (I missed this one at the theatre, but watched it later at home. See my review here).
  • Cook a recipe from a recipe book 1.
  • Cook a recipe from a recipe book 2.
  • Make trifle.
  • Jump in a lake/sea naked. (See the video here).
  • Read a book written by a woman (The only book I read all year, see my review here).
  • Go to the Te Papa Gallipoli exhibit (I missed this one).

People laugh when I mention that I have seeing movies as a New Year Resolution. But the point is – these are movies that I want to see, and I get a sense of satisfaction from achieving things I set out to do. We shouldn’t sell ourselves short in deciding what we do and don’t want to do with our lives.

Cooking a recipe from a recipe book sounds easy enough – but I don’t usually use recipe books, so this forced me to get out of my comfort zone. I made meatballs once, they were nice and I’d make them again, and chilli con carne – but that didn’t really turn out.

This year – my resolutions are a little more ambitious.

I still have some easy ones, like:

  • Watch Wonder Woman
  • Watch Dunkirk

But overall they’re more ambitious. I have some sensible ones

  • Buy insurance
  • Go to the dentist (Make your yearly checkup a New Year Resolution)
  • Create an emergency kit.

And some big ones

  • Make a board game (Definition of Done: Prototype is created, rules written, not necessarily fully balanced, but is playable).
  • Save $2000 for a holiday.

But, you say,  what about those big things – losing weight, going to bed on time, quitting smoking – where are they being prioritised?

My answer to this, you don’t need New Year Resolutions to do these things. These are things that you should be doing anyway,  not just because it’s a New Year.

You can find ways to incorporate achievable New Year Resolutions into your wider lifestyle goals. For example, you could put ‘participate in a half marathon’ on your resolutions. You wouldn’t have to run the half marathon, in order to achieve the resolution; you could walk it if you wanted, but this might provide incentive to start running regularly in preparation.

Similarly if you were wanting to quit smoking, you could put ‘Ring the quitline’ on your New Year Resolutions. That’s easily achievable goal you could complete in the first week – and would be a step toward quitting. You could add several more achievable goals to the same effect –  for example ‘buy nicotine gum’.

So there you have – the trick to New Years Resolutions – they’re actually pretty easy.

 

 

Computer games, productivity and ADHD.

Recently, I’ve been adopting a ‘it’s ok not be always doing something productive’ policy. The idea being – that’ll I’ll be productive and focused at work, and then outside of work, while it’s good to have some amount of extra-curricular productivity – the focus more being on enjoying one’s life, but more so, relaxing and being happy, so that I’m able to be relaxed and productive at work.

One basis for this attitude, in the list of common death regrets, one is ‘I wish I didn’t work so hard’.

We can break kinds of activities in to three groups. For example for me, they might be:

Necessary Life Maintainence Spare Time
Things that need to be done, or else drastic consequences Things that need to be done as part of a healthy lifestyle, but can be put off without drastic consequences Things that it’s up to you to decide what you do with that time.
  • Going to work
  • Tiding my room
  • Doing my washing
  • Doing exercise
  • Shopping for healthy food
Productive

  • Writing
  • Taking photos for Humans of Newtown
  • Programming

Non-productive

  • Playing computer games.
  • Playing board games
  • Playing pinball
  • Watching movies
  • Browsing the internet

The attitude I’ve generally found the most successful regarding producing creative work is to ‘do art when I’m enjoying it’. I typically find that creative work that is just bursting to getting out, particularly writing, 1) is easy to write. Five hundred to a thousand words in an hour is fairly common. 2) It tends to be my favorite work in retrospect.

On the other hand – while I really enjoy TV shows and movies – I like them better than books – I find often I’m not in a relaxed enough state to relax and be immersed in the film. In these states, I’m likely to only half watch the film, while I use my phone or browse the internet. I don’t want to ruin the experience of a good movie or TV show by only half watching, so I’d prefer to put off watching a TV show or movie until I’m sufficiently exhausted enough to be satisfied with just sitting back and being immersed.

Recently, due to better organisation, I’ve found myself having more free time – the chores done, it’s not a gym day, and I’m a bit bored and restless, but I really don’t feel like writing.

Doing something social is out, because that tends to be time consuming, and we’re really talking about killing a couple of hours in the evening.

This is where computer games can be good, but… the barrier for me for a lot of games, is that they seem to have a high upfront cost in the learning the game. You need to spend quite a lot of time learning the game.

The Civilization series is a game I’ve played since Civilization II. It has a great sweet spot of active engagement on my part, (ie. as opposed to a movie which doesn’t require my interaction), as well as being easy enough on the mind that if not really thinking, the game will still move ahead (unlike some writing or other productive work).

The problem with Civilization though – is that it’s a long running game. Completing a game requires more like ten hours, whereas I’m really looking for a game that I can complete in two.

The stolen bike sting operation.

Background

I’d recently found a new a job, and I’d moved out of the flat I’d been head tenant of, and moved into long term budget accommodation, a your-own-room-but-shared-facilities deal.

The accommodation is shared with some odd characters, but I was pleasantly surprised that kitchen was tidy, and for the most part it was quiet; it was better than I’d anticipated.

Between jobs, I had one week holiday, which I spent relaxing with my family.

The Heist

I came back with a few days spare to sort things out before starting the new job, buying clothes etc.

When I went to get my bike to start a shopping mission – the bike was gone.

I text my landlord to ask if he’d perhaps moved it or knew what happened to it, but his phone was off.

I figured it had probably been stolen, and I got on with my day, including visiting the police station to file a report.

The Investigation

I started looking on the Facebook buy/sell groups – knowing that they’re a common place for dodgy activity, including fencing stolen goods.

At 6:30pm, I was on my way home, when my request to join one of the groups was approved – and there it was – my bike is a distinct orange – and here was a seller selling an orange bike of the same make.

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I added a comment indicated I was interested in buying the bike. I also wanted him to post pictures, so I could confirm it was my bike.

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Here’s the photo that he referenced:

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He’s posted a stock store photo taken from the internet. Apparently he doesn’t have camera. This is suspicious – who doesn’t have a camera these days?

(The blanked out profile is a third, uninvolved person).

Also – lets note the seller’s profile – it’s pretty empty – no profile picture, no activity.

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I private message him to arrange purchase of the bike.

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We arrange to meet at 9:30pm, outside a shop in the middle of town. This suits me, as it’s close the central police station – and it isn’t too isolated. The meet is to take place in two hours.

I contact the police at the police station – explain what’s happening and they ask me to come into the police station with my phone to show them the conversation.

The Plan

I catch the bus in, this takes about thirty minutes.

At the police station, we go over what’s happened again. The woman cop I’m talking to explains that they need to first be sure that I own the bike, and this bike is infact mine.

She takes photos of the conversations and Facebook threads.

She asks if I have any photos of the bike. As it is – the only photo of the bike I’ve taken is this one from my instagram – when I’d broken it.

View this post on Instagram

Fml 😦

A post shared by Messes I make. (@messes.i.make) on

I look through my Facebook photos, perhaps I took a photo when I bought the bike, but there’s none there.

I do find emails in my email account from the Trade Me transaction buying the bike, and a couple of service jobs.

The cop seems satisfied that I do own an orange Avanti bike.

At this point, it’s about 9:30, the time I’m meant to be meeting this guy.

The cop tells me to go meet the guy, they’ll park around the corner, and I’m to text them to confirm it’s mine.

I message the guy to say I’m running late, and I’m bit nervous that he’s going to be spooked and leave before I meet him.

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As I walk to the meeting place, about ten minutes away, I think about how I’m going to lead him to the police. What if he’s parked around the corner in a dodgy car park? What if he insists on me handing over cash before I see the bike? My plan is tell him I need to go to an ATM for cash, and lead him to the police that way – but that’s not going to work if he’s insisting on cash up front.

The Sting

I get there, and two guys are sitting in a car and they signal me.

The guy in the passenger seat gets out. It’s a small, young guy, who seems a little familiar, I might have met him before at the accommodation I live at. My fears that I might be beaten up by some hard gangsters are alleviated.

He opens the boot, and sure enough, it’s my bike.

I tell him, ‘I just gotta text my friend’, and text the cop that it’s my bike.

We get it out, and I examine. I ask to ride the bike for a bit, and he’s a little nervous that I’m going to ride off with it, but lets me.

I ride the bike for a bit, and express excitement about getting a sweet bike.

I tell him that I gotta get money from an ATM, and does he want to walk with me there.

I pause to text the cop the license plate of the car. I’m worried that it looks suspicious, especially as I have to turn to look at the number plate twice. And is he looking at my phone to see what I’m texting?

Evidently not – he walks with me, me walking the bike toward the ATM.

I don’t even see the cops until they’re right in front us, and they want to chat to him about the sale of this bike.

He quickly confesses to them – that he used to live at the accommodation it was stolen from, (without any prompting from the cops about where it was stolen from), that it was his friend who cut the chain with bolt cutters and loaded in to this guy’s car.

After a bit, the cops ask me if I want to make a complaint (I do) and tell me to walk the bike back to police station, where I make a statement.

When the statement is complete, I ride the bike, without helmet or lights or a lock (they’re missing) back home – I have my bike back. At this time it’s about 11pm, about four and a half hours after first seeing the Facebook post.

Aftermath

I’ll write a separate aftermath post later as more details come out.

When I was at the station – the police asked me if instead of sending him formally through the court system – I was ok with an alternative community justice/mediation. I said yes – as I am of the belief that the formal criminal justice system isn’t particularly effective at rehabilitation – which also seemed to be the sentiment of the police.

But also – I do get a kind of jaded feeling with this experience- where it feels like the police aren’t that interested in comprehensively following up crimes. This is a post for another time.

The police didn’t catch up with the guy who remained in the car that night.

The guy was likely a guy who’d been kicked out of the accommodation, a couple of weeks earlier for breaking a window.

I received an email today from the police saying that there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with the case – but I’m wondering if that’s a form letter to do with the initial theft report – and not arrest that was made – we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.

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Lessons Learned

  • It is possible to get your items back if you act quickly. This guy clearly wanted to make a quick sale – and had I dawdled about it – a sale would have been made to someone else the item would have been gone.
  • In New Zealand you can contact *555 to reach a police operator – even for non-traffic items.
  • Even without police support – it would have been possible to get the item back. In this case I could have just ridden off with it and I doubt they could have or would have done anything about it. It’s up to you to assess whether that would be a safe option.
  • Don’t delete your emails. A week early, as part of ‘being organised’ I emptied my inbox – sent a lot of emails to the trash – including the Trade Me and bike servicing receipts. Luckily the trash hadn’t been cleared – and the emails were recoverable – because they served to be important in proving that the bike was mine.