Early at the turn of the century culture massaging movements emerged in communities and borrowing from Professor Chomsky’s observations around creating consent adopted a model for ‘arriving at consensus’ which essentially was the manufacturing of it.
The protagonist for a new consensus starts with a pre-determined outcome and then choreographs all other elements to create this (largely hidden to the public) outcome. So, when it ‘hits’ the public arena, the uninformed average citizen believe this is what ‘most people think is okay.’
Manipulative tasks are couched in purported investigative vehicles, giving at least the appearance of ‘objectivity’. Confirmation bias then interprets data/evidence to suit the preferred emerging narrative, and contrary data downplayed or dismissed. Nothing unusual for any protagonist.
‘Community consultation’ must be seen to be important and considered, but again depending on the gatekeepers of the process, will determine what gets in and out.
When it comes to legislating for the public release of a psychotropic toxin – a drug of dependency – then the manufactured consensus of the ‘felt needs’ of the drug user cannot be what informs such legislation. The health and well-being of the entire community, both short and long term, must be the priority consideration, not merely an addendum in this arena – well, that is what one would hope.
When all smokescreens of the opinions, demands and other data that attempts to minimize not only harms of a drug, but the accountability/liability for it, then the final filter for best-practice for the wider community (and particularly the protection of children), public health protecting actions should be the final arbiter.
If prevention is better than cure – and it always is – then shouldn’t best-practice be the cornerstone for policy and legislation making. Science, health, and evidence-based best practice drive the decision, not the manufactured ‘populist pitch’? These priorities are what are applied to Tobacco in our nation, and the agenda to drive this drug of dependence from the landscape is the public health outcome sought.
‘Voting’ for medicine was the first error with cannabis, now the attempt is to use parliamentary process to ‘vote’ for legitimized recreational practice – But that was always the agenda of the pro-drug lobby.
This was all masterfully reflected in the recent Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Cannabis Use.
The ‘squeaky wheel’ of the primed pro-drug lobby was given ample space to peddle their position on Pot, with many of the debunked ‘chestnuts’ of pro-legalisation lobby being resubmitted, yet again.
The 2018 Federal Legal & Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into The Criminal Code and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Commonwealth Restrictions on Cannabis) Bill 2018 saw essentially the same thing being repeated here on a State level. We saw the wheeling out well worn ‘war on drug has failed’ memes, law and order costs, and potential revenues from a taxed ‘legal’ product. Where once we could forecast the failing of these juxtaposes as poor arguments, we can now, due to failed legalisation experiments in Canada, Colorado and California, state that reality very clearly.
Ah, but Victoria will do it differently and we won’t make the same mistakes as other jurisdictions, even though all permission models increase the use of unhealthy and dangerous products and subsequently, the increase of their attending harms.
And so, on August 5th, 2021, the Victorian Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee’s Inquiry into the Use of Cannabis in Victoria Majority Report was released.
Of course, two of the ‘silver bullets’ (we noted) to all potential negative outcomes from cannabis legalisation was ‘education’ and ‘harm reduction’. Legitimate sounding options and certainly education is a key to instructing the public – but what kind of education and in what context?
The nuance of the report is that we can just let cannabis ‘off the leash’ and if bad stuff happens or more pointedly, gets noticed, then tell people, particularly the young, how potentially dangerous it is. If that fails, then any harms that present are simply damage managed, as if it were a ‘band-aid on a boo-boo’.
Yet the Improvised Explosive Device in the middle of all this pseudo-protective banter – the agent de saboteur – is legal protection, the ultimate permission to use. No ‘silver bullet’ can contend with this weapon.
However inversely, if cure was better than prevention and more cost effective and life benefiting, then we’d all be jumping in, but that just aint so!
So, rather than finding and/or using existing vehicles to reduce demand and supply, as we have done so successfully with one of the other two drugs that do the most harm precisely because they are legal – tobacco; then we feign exacerbation and declare the only answer to a growing drug use problem, is to add it to the currents of trade and pretend it won’t join the public health destroying fraternity of tobacco and alcohol.
This, of course, is where rational (and not cannabis impacted) minds come into play.
With the majority of contributors being from the pro-cannabis sector, it is important to note that a Minority Report by the Liberal and National Party Senators who were on the committee were able to crystalize what really should have been the emphasis of the majority report. The key recommendations in this report were as follows,
Recommendation 1: That the Victorian Government does not legalise cannabis for recreational use.
Recommendation 2: That the Victorian Government supports Victoria Police’s submission and evidence to the Inquiry noting the lack of evidence from international jurisdictions on any longitudinal studies conducted on the mental, physical and social impacts as a result of the legalisation of cannabis.
Recommendation 3: That the Victorian Government reviews current drug education programs in schools to determine if they are effective in preventing young people from using cannabis and in informing them of the dangers posed by cannabis and other illicit substances.
Recommendation 4: That the Victorian Government considers whether broader public health campaigns are required to inform Victorians of the dangers of drug driving, particularly the dangers of cannabis consumption.
You will note their emphasis on properly anchored and supported education of the community, and particularly the most vulnerable – our children should be a clear priority whilst keeping in play the illegal status of this drug, thus enabling it to be harnessed along with education to give it more cultural leverage, not mere pointless punitive responses.
The Victorian Premier, Mr Daniel Andrews was also quick to see through the consensus manufacturing façade of this ‘permission model’ document and even in a quick sound bite also encapsulated just one of the many reasons legalizing ‘weed’ is a bad idea.
Vic premier dismisses call to legalise pot
Mr Andrews said he had "no intention" of legalising the drug. "If you want to know why, then have a look at the sections in the mental health royal commission that talk about dual diagnosis, drug-induced psychosis," he told reporters outside parliament on Thursday.
"Others have a different view, they're entitled to have a different view, but as the leader of the government I've just made the government's position very clear."
The American experience with both prescription drugs and the now with legitimizing the ‘recreational use’ of psychotropic toxins – Cannabis first and foremost – has had many foreseeable and unintended consequences.
Even the most avid pro-drug advocate when looking rationally (and out from under the influence of any drug) can see commercializing and liberalizing drug use is a minefield. It remains frankly, mind boggling, that advocates for unleashing another psychotropic toxin into the currents of trade will somehow avoid any or all the harms previously (and inevitably) experienced through other drug policy exercises – Tobacco, Alcohol, and Opioids specifically.
Yet, as mentioned previously, the propaganda spun ‘wishful thinking’ that Harm Reduction mechanisms will morph into the panacea of these emerging ills, and adequately addressing the damage, is just short of delusional. So goes the rhetoric of the pro-drug lobby – one such example here
And at risk of repeating ourselves, the backup of ‘education’ as mentioned in this report will head off a potential public health crisis is also framed in a, no doubt unintentional, cognitive dissonance. It is important to understand that education and legislation are a far more effective behaviour changing vehicle than education alone. Education cannot simply be data, information, and statistic. For the Cognitive domain to truly instruct both individual and society, it must be imbedded in the Affective domain – ‘Why’ is more important than simply, what, how, and when.
However, it is the Judicial Educator – a law, not merely prohibiting, but protecting, that adds exponentially to the proactive and protective capacity of education when it is tasked to that end, not simply a punitive response.
However, when you excise education from protective legislation you weaken its capacity to achieve those protective outcomes – But hey, that’s just what an addiction for profit industry needs to realize its wealth at others expense, goal.
Worse still in the fine print of these recommendations is to misappropriate the vital tool of education to talk about ‘reducing harm’, not by delaying or denying uptake, but by actually instructing people is ‘safer use’ practices. Yes, some people use drugs and in a risky way, but that is not a licence to then expose an entire cohort to such dangerous practices. (Actually, introducing a psychotropic toxin into the body is that risk – agency, capacity and dignity are all compromised at that point, and ‘education’ from that point until fully sober, is redundant.)
Against the education best-practice principles of addressing aberrant, deviant or disruptive behaviours in a student cohort, instead of isolating the drug taking student and helping them exit drug use, the harm reduction use of education is to now instruct all the peers of that drug using student in how to use a drug to minimize ‘serous’ harm. Remembering all drug use does damage to the developing brain – up to 28 years of age.
The Recommendations on any further ‘permission models’ in this report should be utterly ignored.
Instead, protective elements that promote, endorse, or legislate for the following should be taken up by legislators to empower our communities and their families to reduce the use of Cannabis and thus reduce the health, social, mental health, productivity and environmental harms it produces.
- Highest priority of Demand Reduction on Cannabis use for all community, but particularly the young 10 – 25 yr. demographic.
- Public Health and Community Campaigns, of the same intensity and consistency as the QUIT campaign be adopted and fully backed by the above protective behaviour strategies.
- Cannabis use exiting Recovery focus a priority.
- Re-tasking (not weakening) of the existing protective legislation for that recovery end, not enabling greater permission or punitive modes.
Communications Team - Dalgarno Institute