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Norml Endorses Labour's Cannabis Review Call

PRESS RELEASE

NORML endorses Labour’s call to review cannabis legislation, dismisses Minister of Justice’s thinking as "outdated"

AUCKLAND 17 AUGUST 1999: The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws today applauded the Labour Party for it’s commitment to evidence-based drug policy, and called Minister of Justice Tony Ryall’s subsequent statement "outdated".

NORML spokesperson Mr Chris Fowlie said "Labour ought to be congratulated for having the integrity to recognise that a law is not working and to commit to reviewing that law. While the National Government buries it’s head in the sand, the Labour Party wants to hear the facts.

"A review is long overdue; not only was it recommended by the Health Committee, but the original Blake-Palmer committee that led to the Misuse of Drugs Act recommended a review if the law was not seen to be working within ten years. That was in 1973," he said.

"The National Party’s thinking on this subject is outdated, and their continued insistence on prohibiting cannabis is putting our youth in danger. Overseas experience shows that cannabis law reform leads to reduced use relative to nations like New Zealand that still cling to a prohibitionist mentality. As the evidence accumulates, cannabis law reform has become the global norm and we are the exception."

The latest statistics from the University of Amsterdam show that after twenty years of de-facto legalisation only 12% of Dutch adolescents have ever tried cannabis, compared to over half of New Zealand teenagers (Auckland University Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit 1999).

Christchurch Central MP Tim Barnett launched the Labour Party’s new cannabis policy on Sunday while opening the New Zealand opioid treatment conference in Christchurch.

The policy calls for a review of New Zealand’s cannabis laws, as recommended by Parliament’s Health Select Committee’s inquiry into the mental health effects of cannabis late last year.

The National Government dismissed this recommendation. Minister of Health Wyatt Creech was reported as saying that a review of the law would "send the wrong message" to New Zealand’s youth.

Now Minister of Justice Tony Ryall has criticised Labour’s pledge to follow the recommendations of the inquiry report and review the cannabis laws as "disappointing".

NORML spokesperson Mr Chris Fowlie said "It’s only disappointing from their point of view because a review will inevitably tell them their law is a failure, as has every Government-level review conducted around the world."

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