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Educationalists United Oppposing Drug Law Changes

Educationalists united in opposition to drug decriminalisation

One of New Zealand’s most powerful educational bodies is calling on MPs to drop plans to decriminalise cannabis.

In a joint statement, the Education Accord says it is alarmed at the effects of cannabis on the young people of New Zealand, and is urging MPs not to introduce legislation that will make these substances more readily available to young learners.

The Accord is made up of the leaders of 12 educational organisations, and it is only on very rare occasions that a joint unanimous statement is released by the body.

NZSTA vice-president Lorraine Kerr says the Accord is made up by a diverse group of educationalists, including unions, principals, Maori, and trustees, and MPs should take notice of what they are saying.

“This body has a wealth of knowledge with regard to education and the educational needs of students. Their concerns about the effects decriminalisation will have on teenagers are well-founded, and they come from having considerable experience working in and with schools.”

In the statement, the Accord says it is important MPs are fully aware of the harm that cannabis causes to children and adolescents.

Cannabis causes physiological damage to developing organs. It also results in “emotional stunting” as cannabis causes blockages of the neural pathways, impeding users’ ability to exercise reason and sound judgement.
“The educational achievement of children and adolescents who use cannabis is severely compromised due to the physiological and emotional side effects of this usage.”
The Accord says it is already concerned about the current level of cannabis taking among young people, and says that decriminalisation will result in increased use within that age group.

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2/Educationalists united in opposition to drug decriminalisation

“The Accord also believes that it will lead to higher levels of violence and ill-health in our society. The current usage levels are of great concern to the Accord and for this reason it believes that immediate attention needs to be given to the provision of more effective support services for users and their families, and for an effective education programme in schools, available for students from year 1 to year 13.

The Accord is made up of the leaders of the following groups: the New Zealand School Trustees Association, New Zealand Principals Federation, Area Schools Association, New Zealand Educational Institute, NZEI Principals Council, Te Runanga Nui o Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori, Intermediate and Middle Schools Association, Post Primary Teachers Association, PPTA Principals Council, Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand, Te Akatea, and the Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools.

[ends]

For more information contact NZSTA President Owen Edgerton
PH: 04 473 4955 or 025 441 397

* Note to reporters: The issue of drugs in schools will be covered at the New Zealand School Trustees Association annual conference being held June 16 to 18 in Wellington.

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