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Kia ora!

Welcome to the drugs issue - my first as editor. I’m not entirely sure what that says about me. But I’m grateful to be at the helm of Debate. It's crazy to think that last year I was struggling with my final assignments. Those lockdowns nearly drove me insane and add a breakup to the mix – it's been a turbulent six months. Now I'm here - a moustachioed journalism student who got a job. I love music, which means annoying my flatmates by constantly blasting my speakers, strumming my guitar when I should be working and seeing gigs at the great venues of Tāmaki Makaurau. I also love surfing - tune in to my surf report every morning on 95bFM.

People love drugs in Aotearoa. Rhythm and Vines, our biggest festival, is

practically dedicated to MDMA. And I would argue that ‘two degrees of separation’ also applies to everyone’s proximity to a weed dealer. So, of course you’ve got your stoners. But don’t forget the sesh gremlins, trippers, ket-heads, nang enthusiasts, speed demons, coke-fuelled corporates and mushroom foragers. When you consider these various groups, it’s fair to say we have a vibrant drug culture. Chances are you fall under at least one of these categories.

Drugs can also be very divisive in Aotearoa. We need only look as far as the ill-fated referendum of 2020 to see how we fall short on drug policy. But the government is no stranger to harm reduction. During the 1980s AIDS crisis,

Aotearoa became the first country in the world to sponsor a comprehensive needle exchange programme. And in the past few years, the government has introduced legal drug testing at music festivals. Police can also offer addiction support instead of prosecuting drug users. Despite this, weed still dominates drug offences and Māori are disproportionately affected. There’s so much work to be done. It’s a shame that while this is happening, weed is being sold in its gentrified form: clinics. That might sound dramatic, but of the five cannabis clinics in Auckland, two are located in Ponsonby. You can find the rest in Mount Eden, Remuera and over the bridge in Takapuna.

I’ll tie off this ramble with my latest drug experience. Last month I had a minor surgery at Auckland City Hospital. Due to high-capacity, I was given meds in the waiting room to the sound of my least favourite TV show, The Chase. Shortly, I was out of my mind on morphine. This was a blessing, as without it I would’ve been freaking out. Either from the prospect of the surgery or British television. The surgery wasn’t fun, but I was convinced the experience had been truly transcendental.

In my mind, the doctor was a sage guiding me to safety through the subterranean maze of Auckland hospital. Afterwards, my friend pointed out what actually happened: I was halfway to the exit and on cloud nine, while the doctor waited patiently for me to get my head straight.

So, are drugs bad? Sometimes. They can definitely be scary. But they can also be fun and even enlightening. I think it’s important to share our experiences so we use drugs safely, especially when we’re young. Anyway, that’s enough from me. Please enjoy these stories about drugs from our campus and beyond.


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