Monday, October 05, 2020

How I'm voting in the referenda

In addition to electing a government, we also have two referenda to vote on this election - one on legalising recreational cannabis, and one on euthanasia. I'm voting "yes" to both, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. Here's why.

On cannabis, it is patently obvious that decades of prohibition is ineffective and counterproductive. It is a colossal waste of police time and money, and a constant enabler of police racism. I agree with the Drug Foundation that the best way to minimise the harm - including the harm of over-policing - done by cannabis is to manage it as a health issue rather than a criminal one. And that means treating it like alcohol or tobacco, and taxing and regulating it rather than sticking people in jail. But underlying the empirical policy argument is the fact that I just don't care what consenting adults do to themselves in private, and that's the real reason I'm voting "yes".

On euthanasia (or "End of Life Choice" as we're calling it now), I laid out my reasons for supporting it back in 2013, when an earlier version of the bill was before Parliament: we are all going to die, some of us slowly and painfully and without dignity, and it is better that people control that process themselves and go out on their own terms if necessary than forcing them to suffer. That both respects human dignity and freedom, and minimises harm (including, again, the harm of over-policing, both in the form of prosecution of those who assist suicide, and the political oppression of those democratically advocating for a change in the law).

In both cases, I'm pleased that we're voting on actual legislation, though displeased that the government was too chickenshit to pass the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill first so our vote would actually be binding. All we have on that issue is a politicians' promise - which as we all know, isn't worth the hot air it was made with. Which is not exactly going to encourage voters to treat it seriously. I'll be interested to see if there is a difference in turnout between the referenda - and if the cannabis referendum has lower turnout, we will all know where the blame lies.