Advertising high-jinks with the Police.

February 10, 2012

I’ve been back in the City for about 3 weeks now.
The provinces were great, thanks for asking.

But I’ve been somewhat amazed by the barrage of ‘drug-driving’ messages I’ve seen since I started taking city buses again. They’re everywhere, on billboards, Adshell light-boxes in bus-stops, and the charming little leaflet I picked up in the library, hoping it might shed some light on the statements being made.

There is a website published in the leaflet, drivinghigh.org.nz, which when plugged into one’s browser merely re-directs to this Facebook page. Which looks like a functional webpage that’s been shoe-horned into a tiny FB frame. It gets worse if you click on the NZ Drug Foundation link on that page – sends you to an even more scrunched FB page. Still not a lot of facts. Or a link to the actual NZ Drug Foundation website.

So I did a little more digging. There have been other commentators already posting about this campaign, here and on NORML’s website here.

Disclosure statement: my Dad is an alcoholic, and I’m a teetotaller these days.

My personal opinion on drunk and drugged driving is informed by my experiences as a child, teenager and young adult passenger in my Dad’s car. Yes, he’s been disqualified from driving for various periods while I was growing up; once, hilariously, charged with drunk-in-charge on a bicycle. I love the man, but don’t condone that behaviour.

On to drugged driving – I think the campaign is flawed, it is conflating behaviour around class A drugs and hallucinogenics with cannabis use, and makes some statements that are pretty hard to back up.
The video campaigns seen on TV (yes, I’ve been watching advertising, to my great regret) are all faked ‘covert’ surveillance, and none of them are backed by figures for blood test results, arrests or convictions, which would surely have been used if the ad agency hadn’t just been faking footage.
God knows the cops have never been reticent about the privacy issues of defendants any time in the past four and a half years, let alone the previous decades.

There is no reference to the excellent Law Commission report published in 2011, which recommended, among other things, that decriminalisation of cannabis would free up a lot of Police time, a lot of Justice resources (both Courts and Corrections) and leave the agencies concerned free to investigate serious drug offenders. Studies taken overseas were referred to, and the common knowledge that Amsterdam is not a hotbed of crime (where cannabis is legal), neither is Portugal, or any other jurisdiction where possession of cannabis for personal use has been decriminalised.

I fear we are at the hands of yet another bone-headed, oversimplified, ad-agency driven piece of drivel that once again plays to the red-necks in the gallery, and protects the beer-barons, while being quite totally ineffective in any meaningful ‘harm-reduction’ sense.

This all comes on top of a White Flag event at Parliament on Tuesday that got somewhat swamped by the Anti-Asset Sales brigade, and the Anti-Fracking brigade. My, what a lot of grumpy people waving banners and shouting there were. NORML supporters were the most friendly and relaxed amongst the crowd. 😉

NORML supporters near the Cenotaph, about to head up to Parliament steps

NORML supporters near the Cenotaph, about to head up to Parliament steps

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