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October 2009
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Australia’s relationship with rights

I had a wonderful vacation many years ago in Australia — 5 1/2 weeks traveling in a station wagon with camping gear. Beautiful country with wonderful people. Everything was familiar, but different. Exquisite.

The laws had that same feel. For example, they could randomly conduct breathalyzer tests on anyone (something not allowed here). The cops would simply stand in the middle of the highway and randomly point at cars that were to pull over, have their breath checked, and continue on their way. I got caught in one of those (it was my first and only breathalyzer test — in fact, it was the only drug test of any kind I’ve ever taken). I was amused about what it said of the Australian love of drink — I was pulled over on a Thursday… at 10 am.

Some laws were more generous, some more restrictive.

Now Western Australia is moving toward the authoritarian

West Australian police will have the nation’s toughest powers to stop and search people under a plan, unveiled yesterday, which removes the need for them to show any grounds for suspecting an offence.

Premier Colin Barnett […] said legislation would be introduced within weeks to allow anyone to be stopped and searched without reason…

And what’s the need for this extraordinary use of police power? Terrorists? Civil unrest?

He said Labor had failed on law and order, and he accused the former government of trying to con the community into believing cannabis was harmless, when it was ruining lives.

“The cannabis of today is not the cannabis of the 60s or 70s. It is far stronger, it is harmful,” he said.

Ah, yes, that scary cannabis that causes so much violence and societal disruption.

What really bothers me is when people cheer for the loss of their own freedom.

To thunderous applause at yesterday’s state Liberal conference, Australia’s only Liberal Premier said law and order was a defining issue at the September 2008 election.

“I make no apologies,” he said. “We will act on that small minority that destroy the quality of life and the amenity of this great state for the silent majority.”

Mr Barnett said he knew he would be accused of breaching civil liberties but it was a small price to pay if people felt safer.

Small price? I think he’s confusing “priceless” with “small price.”

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13 comments to Australia’s relationship with rights

  • hmmmm seems to me like they have too much time on their hands…. maybe if they cut back on the police force, they wouldnt have to go looking for “crime”….

  • What is interesting is that Australia, which has traditionally high rates of cannabis use, and decriminalized marijuana in most states, is now drifting back towards more draconian legislation, almost as if those laws have created a safe space for politicians to posture and play the tough on crime card.

    I think this trend in Australia stems from two things: Firstly, the lack of any professionally run pro-legalization organizations (emphasis on professionally run). In the US, representatives from the MPP and NORML can debate cannabis legalization on Fox News (of all places!) whilst in Australia, any talk about drugs is shut down in an echo chamber of pettiness and childishness.

    Secondly, as you alluded to above, the tradition of liberty in Australia has always been somewhat subsumed by other political narratives, to the point where any (explicit) talk about liberty (and civil liberties) is seen as a relic of 60’s permissiveness. Thus, despite the fact that America’s drug laws and drug war have been much tougher than Australia’s, the US is much, much closer to legalizing cannabis than Australia.

  • BluOx

    The pot of the 60’s and 70’s was good pot, but the pot of the 80’s thru 00’s is bad pot? Nixon still lives through nimrods like Colin Barnett.

  • fallibilist

    All of this “rights talk” is counterproductive. People can’t agree on what rights ARE, how they are to be implemented, where do they end, etc.

    The idea of federalism–multiple jurisdictions, both side-by-side and overlapping–is the way to solve this. If you let people participate in molding society or leaving (cf. Exit, loyalty, voice by Hirschmann), they will take a more practical and less ideological approach.

    Let a thousand flowers bloom. Let a thousand drug policies bloom. (Australia is a BIG, sparsely populated country.) Most experiments are failures. A few will succeed, some by dumb luck. The solution will not spring, fully-formed, like Athena emerging from Zeus’s forehead.

    Try. Fail. Try.

  • R.O.E.

    People who give up freedom for security deserve neither.

  • Jon Doe

    “The cannabis of today is not the cannabis of the 60s or 70s. It is far stronger, it is harmful,”

    I think the great storyteller Ron Shock would disagree. (the Australia starts half on the first video, is finished on the second)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JMNHegbNdY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM_zj6xLIJY&feature=related

  • DdC

    Not this shit again…

    Potency is a red herring. Average users today may find Ganja that is more potent than decades ago but users simply use less to get the same effect with less smoke. Even 30 years ago, much more potent strains than are normally used today were available, but were seldom used. As with alcohol and tobacco, users generally prefer milder versions. Alcapolka Gold, Panama Red or Vietnam Tea, Thai stick. Many kynd buds were also found in various locations in the states. I’ve smoked some War Protest pot from Indiana that was as good as Florida sinsemilla. Mo Potent Mo expensive. Less toked. Drug worriers are running out of fiction. Hobgoblins ain’t working they way they did with full censorship. This is a red flag that the person spouting it is a moron. You can play with them until it gets boring, but mostly they aren’t dangerous. They built a house of lies and its starting to rain truth down upon them. Destined to be drug worriers without a home. Don’t feed the red herrings.

    Pot Potency? Boomers’ blissfully unfazed by mere facts.

    The overall strength of marijuana available in Europe has remained stable despite claims from US officials and others that it has increased significantly in recent years, according to a study released by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

    Virtues’ of Ganja

    The Ganjawar Fraud

    The Counterculture Colonel

    Drug War Distortions

  • Stronger pot is healthier pot. If you’re determined to get a BAC of .20, you’re better off having a few shots of hard liquor than a whole bunch of glasses of beer. All else equal, the lesser calories of the lesser quantity of hard liquor is less fattening. And we’re not even talking about inhaling smoke – it’s better to inhale a little smoke than a lot of smoke (I know DdC disagrees with me on this – to him it’s just as healthy to inhale a cubic yard of pot smoke as a cubic inch of pot smoke… and he can cite whatever he wants, but sometimes common sense trumps all).

    But indeed, it never ceases to amaze me that people applaud as they readily consent to the removal of their rights. I think they somehow get the idea that since they themselves are not criminals, they are giving up rights they will never need. They just don’t understand what a “right” actually is.

    I always wanted to go to Australia, but now I think I’ll add it to the list of places to which I have no intention to travel.

  • Jakob

    No other scourge of humanity comes close to the evil power of today’s cannabis:
    Cannabis Now Worse Than Nazis.
    Besides the majority of people yearn to be relieved of their burdensome rights and liberties.

  • Duncan

    I always wonder if they’re comparing apples to apples when they do this potency thing. Back in the ’70s the pot we got was about 1/3 bud, 1/3 leaf, and 1/3 seeds. Question using PFTA numbers: If the 70s pot was 5% THC was that based on the weight of the cannabis, or the weight of the seizure? Because seeds have no THC if comparing it to the not your father’s merryjewanna of today which has few if any seeds you’d need to adjust your father’s merryjewanna by an increase of at least 1/3 to make the comparison meaningful. I got the idea that they might do this from having the opportunity to examine the pot that NIDA supplies the IND patients. They just toss the whole plant in the blender, seeds and all. Snap, crackle, pop, god that must taste like shit.

    The potency thing isn’t because it’s dangerous, it’s to give people my age an out so we can fool ourselves that we’re not hypocrites for telling our children to just say no to the drugs that are on the ‘list’.

    I still recall a night in 1979 when I had a bag of primo Panama Red and ended up listening to Gregorian chants at this total psycho’s house basically tripping off the cannabis. The average potency may be higher nowadays, but that’s just another deception by statistic. There is no way today’s cannabis is more than marginally better than that which could make Gregorian chants a thrilling experience.

  • The potency thing isn’t because it’s dangerous, it’s to give people my age an out so we can fool ourselves that we’re not hypocrites for telling our children to just say no to the drugs that are on the ‘list’.

    You got it. Exactly right. It’s hard to convince people who know from personal experience that pot is perfectly safe to lie to other people and tell them it’s dangerous. So they try to distinguish the pot they used from the pot currently being used. I’d like to think most people would see through this, but most people are idiots.

  • DdC

    “Marijuana is ten times more dangerous than twenty years ago.”
    — Presidential candidate Bill Clinton 1992

    Value Of Illegal Marijuana Crops Up For Debate

    Hippie-era marijuana users would find today’s drug not only more expensive, but much more potent. The cost of marijuana 40 years ago — generally $10 per ounce — is about 30 times more expensive today, according to Panama Red, who blogs on the pro-marijuana Web site budlife420.com

    And he agrees with law enforcement officials that pot is more powerful now. When marijuana was imported from Mexico back then, entire plants — including non-psychoactive stems and seeds — were compressed by smugglers using devices such as car jacks. They would then cut the pot into 12-by-6-by-3-inch sections and sell it as “bricks,” or “keys,” which was shorthand for kilos — 2.2 pounds.

    Since then, cultivators have used genetic engineering to increase the potency of the drug. It is uncommon for dealers to sell — or buyers to want — anything but the psychoactive buds.

    “TEN Times Stronger Than Dad’s Stuff”
    Government claims of highly potent pot must be taken with a grain of salt. As is the case with any black market commodity, definitive facts are difficult if not impossible to come by. That said, even by the University of Mississippi’s own admission, the average THC in domestically grown marijuana — which comprises the bulk of the US market — is less than five percent, a figure that’s remained unchanged for nearly a decade.

    “Parents are often unaware that today’s marijuana is different from that of a generation ago, with potency levels 10 to 20 times stronger than the marijuana with which they were familiar.”
    John P. Walters, US Drug Czar
    01 May 2002 Washington Post, p. A25.

  • DdC

    The potency BS not only permits parents to get away with reefer madness hypocrisy. As with J Pee Waldo, it raises the price of BC bud thanks to his advertising it as high potency. The bags today are cleaner but most pot is not that much different… and as stated, higher potency – less toked.