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NZ's high cannabis arrest rate makes sobering reading

NZ's high cannabis arrest rate makes sobering reading on Support, Don't Punish day

To mark global "Support, Don't Punish" day today, NORML has collated figures for cannabis apprehensions since 1994, or half the four decades the Misuse of Drugs Act has been in force.

Support, Don't Punish day aims to focus attention on the harmful aspects of criminal drug laws while calling for more support for those drug users who actually need it.

"Current policy heavily emphasises punishment," says Chris Fowlie, spokesperson for NORML, who notes that more than 10,000 people will be prosecuted by police for cannabis this year.

"The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 was passed forty years ago. It’s obvious this law has failed miserably. Use rates remain among the highest in the world, despite draconian search powers, heavily punitive sanctions, one of the highest arrest rates in the world and even the involvement of our military," said Mr Fowlie.
"The figures for cannabis arrests that we uncovered make for sobering reading!"

• Over 449,000 people were arrested for drugs in that 20-year period, or eleven per cent of all recorded crime
• 85% of all drug arrests are for cannabis, contrary to Government assurances they concentrate on serious crime
• 87% of all cannabis arrests are for personal amounts, contrary to Police assurances they don’t arrest pot smokers
• That’s an average of 18,000 cannabis arrests per year, or fifty per day, every single day. Another every 29 minutes!
• Counting just people arrested for small personal cannabis gives an average of 15,800 per year or 43 people arrested every single day (one every 33 minutes).

What makes this even worse, says Mr Fowlie, is that the Ministry of Health's own research says that 40% of cannabis users are medical.(http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/cannabis-use-2012-13-new-zealand-health-survey)

Medical users in particular deserve support and compassion, not punishment and intolerance, said Mr Fowlie.

More information is at The Daily Blog, Chris Fowlie – One of many: Punished and not supported
http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2015/06/25/guest-blog-chris-fowlie-one-of-many-punished-and-not-supported/

ENDS

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