Recent polls indicating support levels for the proposed “decriminalisation of cannabis use” referendum have produced interesting results. Although surprised that both surveys suggest it will be voted down (l wouldn't have picked that result), l am none the less grateful that kiwis appear not yet ready for such a change.
We must ask the obvious question - why not?
Having been inundated with supportive opinions from the self appointed guardians of social behaviour for years leading up to this point, l had become resigned to the fact that this was a fight that was not going to be won based on logic or even appeals from those who are the casualties of this selfish destructive pastime. I thought we had lost out to the smooth talkers who weren't interested in their responsibilities to future generations or even the current ones. There appeared to be little hope of a re think and I wasn't looking forward to the consequences of this inevitable decision.
But, apparently miracles do happen.
I guess we should also ask if this apparent change of heart is a permanent shift in attitude to what is gratuitously described as a recreational drug?
God help us if it isn't!
My own opinion about cannabis in our society isn't based at all on personal use - simply on my experiences as both an employer of users and an observer of the (particularly) young lives cut short well before their prime.
Clearly, l'm not the only one who has observed first hand the destructive capacity of cannabis in all aspects of human activity. Perhaps the negative affects on our families and communities in general is much greater than even the researchers had discovered.
Maybe, it is no longer impossible to ignore the unfulfilled promise of our children who have fallen through the cracks due to the subtle influence of this "harmless" poison.
I hope that, whatever the reason for this apparent trend towards a "re think", we don't blow it by allowing the pro lobbyists to influence the outcome when we finally get around to voting. We must remain vigilant in opposition to current legislative proposals.
In paraphrasing Sir Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is nor even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”
For me, those simple words from the great man pretty much sums up where we are at with this cannabis debate.
Even after the referendum is completed and the government is contemplating what to do from there, we will still be faced with this multi faceted dilemma - how to legislate for the restricted use of the drug for medicinal purposes, and for limiting its negative effects in the workplace and in educational programmes.
At some point, even the partial decriminalisation aspect of the issue will have to be faced again and it will simply not be enough to keep handing it back to the police.
Whatever the solution, the text for the legislation will need to be drafted by Solomon and introduced as an effective measure capable of acting as a deterrent for minors and those who work in jobs that could impact on the safety of others in the workplace.
Simply banning its use in the hands of those under the age of 20 yrs of age would be as stupid as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic! Yet that would seem to be the remedy our witless lawmakers are contemplating.
We must have something that effectively controls its use in areas where it does the most damage.
Only then will we be able to peacefully co-exist with a substance hopefully only available to licensed users. It should be recognised as and legislated for being a controlled substance - something that is not in the habit of taking prisoners when abused.
Think on that one.
Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.