Cannabis reform is something many citizens of New Zealand want. With little change in the laws thus far, police are now coming forward to proclaim their opinions on the prospect of decriminalizing. While the officer may have stated beliefs anonymously, it’s a step in the right direction. Rather than following the strict drug enforcement rules of New Zealand, this officer thinks law enforcement should be spending their time catching real criminal offenders.
New Zealand has become notorious for their strict cannabis laws and harsh punishments to offenders. As many countries around the world are now decriminalizing and legalizing cannabis views of the plant are changing worldwide, and the people want global reform.
Unlike some precincts, the New Zealand Police Association provides officers with a monthly magazine, Police News. Inside a variety of relevant information, everything from new law reviews to opinion pieces is presented to keep officers updated and give them a sense of community.
Individual officers are even encouraged to write in and voice their ideas on pressing issues. One anonymous officer decided to do just that and voice his distaste with the strict and unnecessary cannabis laws.
Below is the letter submitted by an officer who wished to remain anonymous. While the author may keep their name private, they’re not shy about spreading their views of cannabis laws and explaining what ultimately led to their decision to change the way cannabis punishments are doled out.
People who are stoned are generally quite jovial and the last thing they want to do is fight me. That is a very simple reason for me to not treat cannabis possession with the same enforcement enthusiasm I once did.
I have dealt with drugs on an almost daily basis in the course of the job, whether it’s seizing them or dealing with the after-effects on users, but I often question why we prosecute people who have small quantities of cannabis on them. Initially, I had a zero-tolerance approach. Anyone I found with a ‘tinny’ would find themselves before the courts. Now, however, I am more likely to tell them to get rid of it in a nearby drain and be on their way.
As individual officers we seem to have taken it upon ourselves to deal with this matter in a more liberal way, yet we readily accept alcohol as part of our daily lives. Another reason is, does punishing a user of a drug, any drug, actually impact on their decision to use that drug? I don’t think so.
People use drugs for various reasons. The thought of being prosecuted for such behavior is obviously something they have considered briefly and then decided not to worry about it. Punitive measures often have very little impact on the fight against drug use. Slapping someone with a criminal conviction for possessing one gram of anything is a disproportionate punishment.
This war on drugs is not sustainable and cannabis reform needs to be at the heart of a wider debate about how we deal with drugs. Making criminals out of users benefits nobody.