At a time where heartbroken Aussies are pushing the legalisation of medicinal marijuana, similarly heartbroken Kiwis are lobbying for random drugs tests in those professions where drug impairment could endanger public lives.
Revelations that the hot-air balloon operator involved in the infamous ‘2012 Carterton Balloon Crash’ was a renowned cannabis smoker and in fact at the time of the fatal incident had high levels of THC in his system have caused uproar among the families of the deceased, who maintain the belief that had the operator been drug tested prior to the flight, there would have been no tragedy at all.
Somewhat conversely, in Australia cannabis has been praised for its ability to sooth the anxious, to heal the ill, or to bring light to the darkness of a terminal cancer sufferer’s final days.
In New Zealand cannabis has been vilified for impairing the judgment of the aforementioned aeronautics operator, leading to his hot-air balloon colliding with power lines and falling from the sky.
In Australia it looks as though medicinal marijuana will soon become reality, in heavily sanctioned circumstances.
Everywhere you turn in New Zealand cannabis is still being outright vilified; never once is it considered for its inherent benefits.
Of course this Australian liberation is not intended to make the drug any more accessible for recreational purposes; on that fact Australasian Governments are very much in agreement – unless cannabis/marijuana is processed and marketed as a prescription health aid there is no reliable way to ensure complete taxation of the product.
Illicitly grown marijuana in New Zealand is currently so widespread that while legalisation of cannabis cigarettes would indeed result in pervasive smoking of the drug, it would likely generate little tax revenue for the Government on account of the continuation of its illegitimate sale.
Be that as it may, if we were all to take an objective look at alcohol and the volume of harm that it causes – unlike cannabis providing no realistic health benefits and causing no end of detriment yet providing the Government with a veritable goldmine of tax revenue – we would surely agree that it’s not the effects of cannabis that are the issue here.
It’s simply a culture, a worldwide stigma that has been upheld for too long.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Doe P Smore-Carr
Photography by Ben G Dran-Kerr