THC News December 2016 - Page 7

When the United Future party became a coalition partner in 2002, its leader Peter Dunne made a written agreement with the Labour-led government regarding its four main policy demands.

These included: “The Government will not introduce legislation to change the legal status of cannabis and will implement a comprehensive drug strategy aimed at protecting young people and educating them on the dangers of drug use.”

Then when United Future went into coalition with the National government in 2008, John Key made a verbal commitment to Peter Dunne to continue the exact same agreement. This means that unless Peter Dunne is removed from the balance of power, cannabis cannot be legalised in New Zealand.

Was Peter Dunne's cannabis agreement motivated by protecting children from drugs, as he claimed, or was he really acting on the behalf of special interests and corporate lobbyists?

THC News took a look at some of the lobby groups which could be influencing Dunne against the legalisation of cannabis.

Anti-smoking groups have regularly claimed that Peter Dunne has been influenced by the tobacco industry, given his voting record.

A letter, blocked from being tabled in Parliament in 2003, showed that Peter Dunne had received money from British American Tobacco while overseas.

Dear Mr Dunne,

Paul Adams has asked me to send you the enclosed 100 pounds to help pay for your "Awayday". I do hope you will enjoy yourselves.

If at all possible, I should be grateful if you could get receipts for your expenses and pass them on to the driver - even large companies have to account for their money!

Enjoy your visit to England.

Yours Sincerely,

Jean Macy - Secretary to Paul Adams

Peter Dunne's voting record raises serious questions about corporate influence, according to Smokefree Coalition spokeswoman Leigh Sturgiss.

“Peter Dunne has consistently voted against any tobacco control initiative that has come before Parliament since the 1990 Act. Whether that's just coincidental or not, I wouldn't like to say," she said.

“We find it quite concerning that he will readily accept money from British American Tobacco.”

One of the most influential anti-cannabis groups in New Zealand, the Life Education Trust, also received funding from British American Tobacco. While associated with British American Tobacco, Life Education Trust's anti-smoking content was described as minimal and ineffective. At the time, Life Education Trust was used by 89% of primary schools and 82% of intermediates. They also met regularly with Peter Dunne.

Interestingly, Peter Dunne's ministerial boss, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman was spotted in a British American Tobacco’s corporate box at a U2 concert in 2006. He got into an altercation when he lit up a cigar in a crowded area and blew smoke in a woman's face.

Political parties do not have to, and usually will not, declare if they receive funding from tobacco industry sources.

Alcohol:

When former MP and political commentator Matt Robson wrote in his blog: “The liquor industry’s support for Peter Dunne, as with that of the tobacco, has always meant that he has faithfully delivered his vote for their interests,” he was charged with contempt of Parliament by the powerful Privileges Committee.

The Parliamentary committee demanded Robson issue an “unqualified apology” to both Peter Dunne and the House of Representatives, otherwise he would be thrown in jail or fined, without trial.

“A political commentator criticises someone in power, and is forced to grovel before them for forgiveness on pain of indefinite detention. It's the sort of scene you'd expect to see in an absolute monarchy or shitty third world despotism, in Louis XV's France, in China, or in Bainimarama's Fiji.” fellow left-wing blogger Malcolm Harbrow said.

“Robson's observation 'diminished the respect due' to the House, and this somehow 'obstructed' Dunne in his duty. The resemblance to the ancien regime abuse of lese majeste is not accidental. The 'dignity of the sovereign' has simply been appropriated by Parliament and defended in a similarly abusive fashion.”

According to the Speaker, the purpose of this rule is “to protect members going about the business of the House from unfounded, scurrilous allegations of serious impropriety or corruption”.

In 2010, the Ministry of Health commissioned research into the public's views on alcohol reform, but the work was not completed after Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne refused to approve funding needed for a peer review.

According to Prof Jennie Connor, head of preventive and social medicine at the University of Otago, not completing the research which showed a majority of respondents favoured stricter alcohol controls, constituted a manipulation of the political process.

“It has deliberately interfered with a fair process,” she said. “When you have some evidence you are being manipulated it's disappointing, it makes you feel heart-sick.”

Peter Dunne called addiction specialist Professor Doug Sellman and 450 senior doctors and nurses, who were calling for tighter alcohol regulations “a group of people who don’t like a drink of wine at a wedding”, despite their proposals targeting problem drinking.

Dunne worked as the deputy executive of the Alcohol Advisory Council before becoming an MP. He spoke at the ALAC conference in 2009 about the need to include alcohol corporations in decision making.

“A legitimate cross-sector approach also has to involve working closely with those who produce alcohol. I have no tolerance for those who hold to the old fashioned view that working with the industry is akin to collaboration with the enemy,” Dunne said.

“Never forget that they are your funders, and have a legitimate point of view to present. As the producers of the product that you all spend so much time talking about, they also have an interest and a responsibility to promote and ensure its responsible use, and they must be at your table.”

However, Public health advocates were shocked by Dunnes comments. They said that the liquor industry was “fuelled by profit” and it was “a conflict of interest to have them involved”.

Pharmaceuticals:

When asked if medical cannabis was likely to be introduced in New Zealand, Peter Dunne said it was a decision for multinational pharmaceutical companies.

“We talk about medicinal cannabis, actually there's no such thing. There’s medicinal cannabis products,” he said.

“It’s essentially a commercial decision by the pharmaceutical companies. They don’t see the likely market for products as being big enough in New Zealand, so why conduct trials here?”

However, pharmaceutical companies make billions from opiate based painkillers and other drugs which would have to compete directly against cannabis, if it was legalised.

The Pharmaceutical lobby is the biggest spending lobby group in Washington DC and one of the strongest opponents of medical cannabis.

US states that legalised medical cannabis have seen a 15% - 35% drop in opiate related hospital admissions and overdoses. In these states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses, 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication and 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.

The fact that natural cannabis cannot be patented mean that pharmaceutical companies would be the biggest losers from legal cannabis. They have a vested interest in keeping it illegal and a conflict of interest when deciding whether to conduct trials of medical cannabis.

Peter Dunne ignored almost every recommendation from the Law Commission relating to cannabis, including their call for clinical trials of natural cannabis. Instead he recently approved a clinical trial in New Zealand, which he described as medical cannabis but was actually a synthetic cannabinoid, made by Zynerba Pharmaceuticals.

In 2003 Canada's deputy Prime Minister John Manley was found to have received $1.5 million in donations from a range of pharmaceutical companies into what was meant to be a blind-trust, in return for political favours. It is possible that New Zealand MPs have been receiving similar kickbacks from the pharmaceutical industry in return for opposing cannabis law reform.

As Peter Dunne has pointed out, none of the parties in Parliament have even promised to legalise cannabis.

Ohariu

Peter Dunne's United Future party received only 5,286 votes nationwide in the 2014 election compared to 10,961 votes for The Cannabis Party. Yet Peter Dunne has held the balance of power for over 14 years and used it to prevent any change to the cannabis laws.

In 2014 Peter Dunne won the Ohariu seat with 13,569 votes, a margin of just 710 votes over his Labour rival Virginia Andersen who got 12,859 votes. In the same year the Green Party candidate attracted 2,764 votes in Ohariu.

In 2011 Peter Dunne won the seat by a margin of 1392 votes over Labour, while the Greens candidate gained 2,160 votes. While in 2008 the margin was 1006 for Dunne and the Greens gained 2,665 votes.

It is clear that in all of the last three general elections, if the Green Party had pulled out of the race, the votes on the left would be enough to elect a Labour candidate and defeat Peter Dunne. Despite announcing a pre-election coalition with Labour, the Green still intend to stand a candidate to split the vote in Ohariu in 2017.

If the Greens were serious about cannabis law reform they would have taken action a long time ago to remove Dunne from the balance of power, ending his long-running anti-cannabis agreement with the government.

Instead, New Zealanders who are in desperate need of medical cannabis are suffering at the hands of a politician who clearly seems to be influenced by a wide range of corporate lobbyists who have a vested interest against legal cannabis.

It is clear that the tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical lobbies and their allies in Parliament are a major force against cannabis legalisation.

Peter Dunne 'influenced by corporate lobbyists'

December 2016 7

The Hemp & Cannabis News POLITICS

Anti-smoking groups have regularly claimed that Peter Dunne has been influenced by the tobacco industry, given his voting record.

A letter, blocked from being tabled in Parliament in 2003, showed that Peter Dunne had received money from British American Tobacco while overseas.

Dear Mr Dunne,

Paul Adams has asked me to send you the enclosed 100 pounds to help pay for your "Awayday". I do hope you will enjoy yourselves.

If at all possible, I should be grateful if you could get receipts for your expenses and pass them on to the driver - even large companies have to account for their money!

Enjoy your visit to England.

Yours Sincerely,

Jean Macy - Secretary to Paul Adams

Peter Dunne's voting record raises serious questions about corporate influence, according to Smokefree Coalition spokeswoman Leigh Sturgiss.

“Peter Dunne has consistently voted against any tobacco control initiative that has come before Parliament since the 1990 Act. Whether that's just coincidental or not, I wouldn't like to say," she said.

“We find it quite concerning that he will readily accept money from British American Tobacco.”

One of the most influential anti-cannabis groups in New Zealand, the Life Education Trust, also received funding from British American Tobacco. While associated with British American Tobacco, Life Education Trust's anti-smoking content was described as minimal and ineffective. At the time, Life Education Trust was used by 89% of primary schools and 82% of intermediates. They also met regularly with Peter Dunne.

Interestingly, Peter Dunne's ministerial boss, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman was spotted in a British American Tobacco’s corporate box at a U2 concert in 2006. He got into an altercation when he lit up a cigar in a crowded area and blew smoke in a woman's face.

Political parties do not have to, and usually will not, declare if they receive funding from tobacco industry sources.

When former MP and political commentator Matt Robson wrote in his blog: “The liquor industry’s support for Peter Dunne, as with that of the tobacco, has always meant that he has faithfully delivered his vote for their interests,” he was charged with contempt of Parliament by the powerful Privileges Committee.

The Parliamentary committee demanded Robson issue an “unqualified apology” to both Peter Dunne and the House of Representatives, otherwise he would be thrown in jail or fined, without trial.

“A political commentator criticises someone in power, and is forced to grovel before them for forgiveness on pain of indefinite detention. It's the sort of scene you'd expect to see in an absolute monarchy or shitty third world despotism, in Louis XV's France, in China, or in Bainimarama's Fiji.” fellow left-wing blogger Malcolm Harbrow said.

“Robson's observation 'diminished the respect due' to the House, and this somehow 'obstructed' Dunne in his duty. The resemblance to the ancien regime abuse of lese majeste is not accidental. The 'dignity of the sovereign' has simply been appropriated by Parliament and defended in a similarly abusive fashion.”

According to the Speaker, the purpose of this rule is “to protect members going about the business of the House from unfounded, scurrilous allegations of serious impropriety or corruption”.

In 2010, the Ministry of Health commissioned research into the public's views on alcohol reform, but the work was not completed after Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne refused to approve funding needed for a peer review.

According to Prof Jennie Connor, head of preventive and social medicine at the University of Otago, not completing the research which showed a majority of respondents favoured stricter alcohol controls, constituted a manipulation of the political process.

“It has deliberately interfered with a fair process,” she said. “When you have some evidence you are being manipulated it's disappointing, it makes you feel heart-sick.”

Peter Dunne called addiction specialist Professor Doug Sellman and 450 senior doctors and nurses, who were calling for tighter alcohol regulations “a group of people who don’t like a drink of wine at a wedding”, despite their proposals targeting problem drinking.

Dunne worked as the deputy executive of the Alcohol Advisory Council before becoming an MP. He spoke at the ALAC conference in 2009 about the need to include alcohol corporations in decision making.

“A legitimate cross-sector approach also has to involve working closely with those who produce alcohol. I have no tolerance for those who hold to the old fashioned view that working with the industry is akin to collaboration with the enemy,” Dunne said.

“Never forget that they are your funders, and have a legitimate point of view to present. As the producers of the product that you all spend so much time talking about, they also have an interest and a responsibility to promote and ensure its responsible use, and they must be at your table.”

However, Public health advocates were shocked by Dunnes comments. They said that the liquor industry was “fuelled by profit” and it was “a conflict of interest to have them involved”.

Tobacco

When asked if medical cannabis was likely to be introduced in New Zealand, Peter Dunne said it was a decision for multinational pharmaceutical companies.

“We talk about medicinal cannabis, actually there's no such thing. There’s medicinal cannabis products,” he said.

“It’s essentially a commercial decision by the pharmaceutical companies. They don’t see the likely market for products as being big enough in New Zealand, so why conduct trials here?”

However, pharmaceutical companies make billions from opiate based painkillers and other drugs which would have to compete directly against cannabis, if it was legalised.

The Pharmaceutical lobby is the biggest spending lobby group in Washington DC and one of the strongest opponents of medical cannabis.

US states that legalised medical cannabis have seen a 15% - 35% drop in opiate related hospital admissions and overdoses. In these states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses, 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication and 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.

The fact that natural cannabis cannot be patented mean that pharmaceutical companies would be the biggest losers from legal cannabis. They have a vested interest in keeping it illegal and a conflict of interest when deciding whether to conduct trials of medical cannabis.

Peter Dunne ignored almost every recommendation from the Law Commission relating to cannabis, including their call for clinical trials of natural cannabis. Instead he recently approved a clinical trial in New Zealand, which he described as medical cannabis but was actually a synthetic cannabinoid, made by Zynerba Pharmaceuticals.

In 2003 Canada's deputy Prime Minister John Manley was found to have received $1.5 million in donations from a range of pharmaceutical companies into what was meant to be a blind-trust, in return for political favours. It is possible that New Zealand MPs have been receiving similar kickbacks from the pharmaceutical industry in return for opposing cannabis law reform.

As Peter Dunne has pointed out, none of the parties in Parliament have even promised to legalise cannabis.

Peter Dunne's United Future party received only 5,286 votes nationwide in the 2014 election compared to 10,961 votes for The Cannabis Party. Yet Peter Dunne has held the balance of power for over 14 years and used it to prevent any change to the cannabis laws.

In 2014 Peter Dunne won the Ohariu seat with 13,569 votes, a margin of just 710 votes over his Labour rival Virginia Andersen who got 12,859 votes. In the same year the Green Party candidate attracted 2,764 votes in Ohariu.

In 2011 Peter Dunne won the seat by a margin of 1392 votes over Labour, while the Greens candidate gained 2,160 votes. While in 2008 the margin was 1006 for Dunne and the Greens gained 2,665 votes.

It is clear that in all of the last three general elections, if the Green Party had pulled out of the race, the votes on the left would be enough to elect a Labour candidate and defeat Peter Dunne.

It appears that the Greens have finally seen the light and decided to pull their candidate from Ohariu in 2017 as part of a deal with Labour. Hopefully this move will spell the end of Dunne’s political career.

Otherwise, New Zealanders who are in desperate need of medical cannabis will continue suffering at the hands of a politician who clearly seems to be influenced by a wide range of corporate lobbyists, with a vested interest against legal cannabis.

It is clear that the tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical lobbies and their allies in Parliament are a major force against cannabis legalisation.

Alcohol

Pharmaceuticals

Ohariu