Criminals are people who affect the good order of society. In the case of cannabis prohibition it is *the law itself* that is affecting the good order of our society, economy, and the environment. It also negatively affects the good order of society because it causes the law and police to be held in disregard, especially since it is harming good otherwise innocent productive people who have done nothing more than burn a dried up old plant flower, which is delicious and nutritious by the way!
New Zealand passed the Dangerous Drugs Act in 1927 banning cannabis and other drugs with no public discussion and little debate in parliament. Previously it was one of NZ’s chief medical exports around 1890. Strangely while it was patently obvious that alcohol prohibition fostered a lucrative and highly militarised gang culture in USA, and was quickly reversed, the same was not true of cannabis and other drugs. Some would even argue it provided another tool of racial oppression by western systems; seemingly against the Māori in New Zealand, black people in the US, or against the Rastafari of Jamaica. The dread-i are normally peaceful people with “one love” unity culture who wish to just burn a dried flower – but a catholic priest can burn incense made of whatever flowers he likes during his ceremony. How can that be?
Currently 2.27 million individuals languish in prison in the USA, a country of 318 million. They have the most and highest rate per capita only the Seychelles has higher incarceration. Compare this with the prison population of China a country that has supposedly terrible human rights records and no hint of democracy: 1.54 million from a population of 1.39 billion! There are cases in the US of people going to jail for a bag of weed. In New Zealand 16% are in prison for drug crimes (Source: Brian Rudman – NZ Herald Nov 5, 2014). A jury verdict to “Not Guilty” even in light of compelling and copious evidence including the admission of guilt to the actions presented may sadly have to be the way cannabis ends up decriminalised in this fine country.
Remember – one of the most vital purposes of a jury – one of the actual reasons they were created in 1215 was to protect good citizens from the tyranny of widely discredited unpopular laws. We even have a political party called ALCP devoted to it! If governments seem somehow unable to pass them, the police become machines bereft of ethical guidance…. just doing their job following the law like an ISIS fighter following the sharia law chopping another head off because you’re reptilian leader told you to?
In Latin, the phrase Cannabis Sativa means “useful”.
Indeed it is one of the most useful plants ever discovered, probably evolving alongside humans and is mentioned in every single ancient pharmacological manual ever produced: Ayurveda, Egyptian Papyrus. The Chinese term for “anesthesia” (mázui 麻醉) literally means “cannabis intoxication”. Called má 麻 (“hemp; numbness”) or dàmá 大麻 (“big; great”) in Chinese it was used in Taiwan for fiber starting about 10,000 years ago. An entire system of receptors in the brain is named after it: the endocannabinoid system. Humanity needs to be able to study this stuff safely.
Medicine in Latin is ars medicina, which means the art of healing. Musicians and artists are known to enjoy higher than normal doses of psychoactive substances. Creative people sometimes use drugs safely to expand their minds and great discoveries and art aren’t usually done in jail.
Leaving cannabis for a moment, Watson and Crick were taking LSD and high on it during the discovery and visualisation of the molecular shape of DNA; Evidently, Steve Jobs believed that experimenting with LSD in the 1960s was “one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life.” Without it not only would you probably not have an iPod, but you wouldn’t have much of the really trippy music that is on it [jokes]. Bill Gates admitted using it in a Playboy interview. Nobel Prize winning scientist Kary Mullis took plenty of it going so far as to call his experimentation with psychedelics and I quote “much more important than any course [he] ever took.”. In a BBC interview he later mused aloud – “What if I had not taken LSD ever; would I have still invented PCR? I don’t know. I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.”. PCR is what powers most DNA testing by amplifying a faint piece of it. Recently the John Hopkins University School of Medicine came out with strong evidence (50-80% benefit) to support medical use of LSD (and Psilocybin) for severely depressed people. As such anyone charged should be considered technically Not Guilty until the re-classification of the drug. Someone should somehow prosecute the government in a way sufficient to trigger a funded scientific study of all traditional drugs as required under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013.
It may be the case that some people like to as they say in that song smoke weed till my eyes bleed. Perhaps as Socrates did they would be foolish to sacrifice themselves plead Not Guilty when all the best advice is to be untrue to the cause, buckle and head off to the new Drug Court which is a judge-alone trial without no jury. Socrates was executed in 399 BC after pleading Not Guilty to victimless crimes like this one. He was charged with the impious act of not believing in the correct deities and trying to come up with new ones. He died trying to make his point about the Roman legal system, sure hope you don’t. It’s in NZ’s best interest to discharge them without conviction or nullify and let them keep paying tax to Aotearoa rather than suck up more resources.
Finally… As a Jury member ask yourself if could you sleep well at night knowing you snuffed out another good innocent soul and that because of your selfish desire to finish the case and get out of court early just because they ran out of sandwiches or you got bullied by the bailiff or other jury members that the destruction, hurt, gang violence, and economic drag of prohibition will continue onward forever….. ? Or will stand up for what you believe in, be counted, hang the jury, and be part of NZ history by finding them unanimously NOT GUILTY by virtue of the power of jury nullification, and cause de facto decriminalisation of cannabis to finally begin in NZ in earnest?