AN INTERVIEW WITH VINCE McLEOD Author of The Cannabis Activists Handbook.

What could be better than an R18 restricted legal Cannabis market in New Zealand? We certainly can’t think of much. We all know Prohibition has failed. It has caused harm far greater than the herb it is supposed to be protecting us from.

But what exactly do we need to do in order to achieve legal Cannabis here in New Zealand? The recently released The Cannabis Activists Handbook by Vince McLeod sounds like a pretty good place to start.

Upon ordering some copies of the book for our online headshop, the author was nice enough to allow us some of his time for an interview about his new book, as well as his advise on what we need to in order to be able enjoy a quiet smoke after work without the fear of arrest and imprisonment.

MindFuel: Hey Vince, thanks for your time this afternoon. Tell us, how did you become interested in Cannabis law reform?

Vince McLeod: For me it was a combination of things. I never liked being told what to think and didn’t like the government’s approach to cannabis. When I started smoking it I was astonished that something that felt so right – and which was clearly beneficial from a psycho-therapeutic perspective – was illegal enough to get sent to prison for. I mentioned this to some stoners I knew and came to learn that a resistance movement existed in New Zealand.

The other major factor was a visit I made to Amsterdam a few years back, where I was able to see with my own eyes the social effects of cannabis legalization, namely large numbers of people sitting in the Sun and enjoying themselves without aggro or the threat of aggro. Coming from this back to New Zealand made our approach seem barbaric to me, and so I resolved to do something about it.

MindFuel: Amsterdam is certainly light years ahead of New Zealand when it comes to Cannabis policy. Vince, what have you done to help make cannabis legal here?

Vince McLeod: When I joined the cannabis law reform movement here I started out by trying to radicalize other stoners, and then moved on to becoming the Membership Secretary of the Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis Party. This involved launching a drive for new members and processing the new applications so that everyone was able to get involved.

MindFuel: Awesome stuff. So what exactly inspired you to write the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook?

Vince McLeod: After joining the cannabis law reform movement here I realized that, although the people in it were enthusiastic and committed, they were not able to teach what they knew to the next cohort of people coming through. It was often very difficult to get questions answered and the answers were frequently contradictory.

The great tragedy was that people were coming to the movement but were losing interest because of being ignored or confused. On one occasion I observed an argument that was only taking place because the people in it had not been given the information they needed to make the correct decisions. Upon seeing this I resolved to put everything I knew into a single reference book so that anyone interested wouldn’t have to begin from a position of ignorance.

MindFuel: Sounds like a great idea. So who do you think should read it?

Vince McLeod: Ideally I’d like both cannabis activists and prohibitionists to read it. The latter is not realistic but I can hope that anyone interested in cannabis law reform would buy it and make sure they understand what’s in it.

Before I really became interested in the subject I had been in a number of situations where a person had challenged me on the merits of either my personal cannabis use or of cannabis law reform, and I found myself unable to argue persuasively because of a lack of general knowledge. All arguments for cannabis prohibition have counterarguments, so there is no need to let an attack get made without a response.

MindFuel: Exactly, knowledge is power! So where do you think the cannabis law reform movement needs to go now?

Vince McLeod: I think the most important thing is to build momentum and ensure that it is not lost. Getting people interested is one thing, but motivating them to remain part of the movement is more difficult – I think that online communities will be more important in the future. The ALCP and NORML forums have recently been rebuilt and with enough participation these will be central.

MindFuel: OK Vince, one final question, when do you think we will we have legal cannabis in New Zealand?

Vince McLeod: As soon as we decide we want it enough to seriously agitate for it! I’m going to tell you that the best thing anyone can do for cannabis law reform is to buy a copy of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook and take it from there

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