Last week, Justice Minister Amy Adams was proudly claiming the Government had more than halved the number of young people appearing in Auckland courts since taking office.
Now we know how they did it. National has given up the chase. This week the Herald revealed that in 2015, burglars got away with 164 unsolved break-ins a day. In Auckland City police district, only 6.2 per cent of burglaries were solved. Nationwide, it was 9.3 per cent.
We're supposed to accept that there are not enough resources available to get the police out with their magnifying glasses and finger-print kits to track the miscreants down. To me it's not a lack of resources, but a misallocation.
They could, for example, divert the $100 million and 580,000 officer hours spent fighting their losing battle against breaches of the cannabis laws each year. A law broken by 400,000 Kiwis a year according to the Law Commission in 2011.
I'm wagering the 59,845 victims of unsolved burglaries last year would agree. Along with the myriad of past victims - myself included - who over the years have been told to put in burglar alarms and move on.
Feisty Helen Kelly, former president of the Council of Trade Unions, and now terminally ill with lung cancer, has recently brought the anti-cannabis laws back into the spotlight with her bid to access cannabis oil legally for pain relief.
Writing in early January on the Standard website, she said "I am taking Cannabis Oil to manage my pain as my lung cancer takes over my body. It's sort of as simple as that really. For some people talking about dying is confronting but actually talking about it allows us to think about how it happens - it is actually as much a social event as a physical one and knowing someone is comfortable, getting good treatment and pain relief is very much part of the social dimension as [it is] the physical one."
She subsequently applied to the associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne, as required, for permission, but after weeks of faffing around, her request has been "deferred".
In the meantime, Ms Kelly continues to cheek the system and proceed very openly with her illegal use of black-market oil. She has chosen to turn her private battle into a public policy issue on behalf of fellow sufferers, and good for her. What clowns the authorities will look if they prosecute, and what a great platform for Ms Kelly's last stand.
She's not the only prominent person to flout this cruel and stupid law. Broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes, in his last three weeks before he died in February 2013, turned to marijuana for the relief that the cocktail of legal prescribed drugs did not give.
Lady Deborah Holmes told me yesterday that Paul was not a drug user but "in the final weeks it was the one thing that could give him peace and comfort." He was allergic to morphine and the alternative concoction of drugs "sent him off to la la land".
She said it wasn't just the pain, but the anxiety that was relieved by the marijuana. "It relaxed him." Sir Paul smoked the drug. Lady Deborah says they were unaware of cannabis oil. Given the relief it provided Sir Paul, she supports its use on medical grounds.
In an obituary for famed cricketer Martin Crowe, cricketing mate Mike Selvey wrote in the Guardian that towards the end of his battle with lymphoma, he refused more chemotherapy and self-medicated with liquid marijuana. "Happy hours," he told Selvey. Whether prescribed or not is not said.
Rebecca Reider, a US visitor living in Nelson, recently uncovered a loophole. Prescribed cannabis oil and chocolates by her Californian doctor for complex pain syndrome, she had the items mailed to her and was charged with importation and possession.
She was discharged without conviction because an obscure clause in the law permits a visitor to enter the country with a month's supply of a controlled drug, if prescribed by a doctor.
In other words, anyone wealthy enough to fly back and forth to the USA can die at home with a marijuana-induced smile on their face. For the rest, it's break the law and hope the cops are for once out chasing burglars.
- NZ Herald