Peter Dunne has finally come to terms with the reality of so called “legal highs” and banned all of them. He should have done so right from the beginning but managed to convince himself of his own convoluted logic that banning “didn’t work” and would simply drive these products underground. Instead he said the testing regime he put in place would be hugely expensive and thus most synthetic cannabis producers would not be able to afford it anyway. This begged the question – at the point where producers could not afford the testing regime, where did Mr Dunne think they would they take their product ? Underground of course.
So either way these addictive and dangerous substances would end up underground. The only difference between the two scenarios is that the “undergrounding” would have taken longer under Dunne’s preferred approach. In the interim the normalisation of these substances by being legally available has simply encouraged greater use of them.
Mr Dunne doesn’t seem to have followed through the logic of his own argument. He also seems to have bought into the flawed argument that driving things underground by proscribing them in law is inherently bad. However some bad things belong underground. No one suggests we should decriminalise theft so that it can be better controlled.
Some will of course argue that unlike theft, drug use is a victimless crime which harms only those who indulge in it. Tell that to the Gisborne policeman who was resigning because of the increasing violence in his community due to synthetic cannabis use. Tell it to the emergency dept staff around the country having to waste precious time and resource on the after effects of “legal highs”. Most importantly tell it to the families of the young people pushed over the edge into long term mental health damage by synthetic cannabis use. They have surely had something stolen from them – something far more valuable than private property.