Cannabis prohibition is mostly anti-male
Hopefully the readers of this website are mostly well informed about the problems of prohibition of cannabis versus the advantages of legalization and regulation of this plant. If not I’ll be happy to outline them for you.
What I’d like to focus on in this post is how the current cannabis prohibition laws disproportionately criminalise men for doing something that causes no harm to others.
One of the problems with prohibition is that it makes it very difficult if not impossible to get reliable studies on the prohibited item. The general agreement is that, about half of New Zealanders have had cannabis at some point of their lives. About half a million have used cannabis in any given year.
Therefore about half of New Zealanders are criminals, although most of them have got away with it thus far. If the system was working as it has been written, half of New Zealanders would have a criminal record and stuffer all the negative consequences of being criminals.
The system has failed to implement these laws at anything like that level, although they have been doing their best. Thousands of new criminals are created every year in New Zealand for using cannabis. An activity that does not harm others. The New Zealand Police arrest more than 10,000 Kiwis every year, leaving most with a criminal record that does not always go away (despite the Clean Slate legislation).
Research on the demographics of cannabis users is woefully lacking. It seems the ratio of men to women is roughly about 60% men to 40% women. But female cannabis smokers are now more likely to use every day. Fourteen per cent of women users smoke daily, compared with 12 per cent of men.
In the 2012/13 survey Cannabis was used by 15% of men and 8.0% of women in NZ.
One reason why only 10,000+ out of 500,000 annual users are arrested is because police use discretion. Police like the current prohibition of cannabis because it gives police sweeping powers and funding. Police are reluctantly forced to use discretion because the sheer volume of potential criminals is far beyond what the system could process. So how are they exercising this discretion?
If you follow the topic of prohibition you might know that there has been some focus on how Maori cannabis users are excessively arrested. The prohibition seems to be racist.
What has been conveniently overlooked is the massive bias against males in the arrest figures for cannabis users.
Although more than 1 in 3 cannabis users are female.
Only 1 in 11 arrests for cannabis use are female.
Of course it is always possible that male cannabis users are also doing more risky things that bring them to the attention of police. Just as in the general population, males tend to do more risky things that bring them to the attention of the police.
However it seems unlikely that this would explain such a huge difference in the arrest rates compared to the cannabis usage rates.
I imagine that I don’t need to explain here, how much sexism against males exists once you enter into the so called justice system. The arrest is just the start of the bias.
Then, of course once you have a criminal conviction for anything – even something as relatively harmless as smoking a joint – then you are far more likely to face further issues with the criminal justice system.
It seems to indicate that the cannabis prohibition laws are the pointy end of sexism of the criminal justice system.
This combines with the extreme anti-male bias of the family courts in the civil justice system. It all leads to the criminalisation and punishment of men for activities that did not harm anyone else. And it is done on a rather grand scale in New Zealand.
What’s worse in my view is few people ever talk about this anti-male bias of our so called justice system. The tacit message from society is that men are disposable, even when the men were not harming others. Really for the most petty of reasons in fact.
There will be a referendum on ending the current prohibition of cannabis on or before 2020. What many people don’t realise is that prohibition is largely an anti-male law. A vote to end prohibition will remove the criminalisation of over 9,000 men and boys every year. The effects of women will be relatively minimal.