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Norml Says Pipe Ban Will Create Harm

8 JULY - FOR IMMEDIATE USE

A JOINT PRESS RELEASE WITH THE HEMPSTORE AOTEAROA

Norml Says Pipe Ban Will Create Harm: Hempstore Vows To Defy It

The Government's intention to ban the importation and sale of 'cannabis paraphernalia' is both counterproductive and unworkable, says the National Organisation for the Reform of

Marijuana Laws (NORML). "This is in effect a policy of harm maximisation," says NORML spokesperson Mr Chris Fowlie. "If it has any effect at all it will be to maximise lung damage to smokers, but it's more likely that the ban will be circumvented as smokers make their own, and businesses find ways around it."

Chris Fowlie is a partner in The Hempstore Aotearoa, a retail outlet that specialises in catering to New Zealand's cannabis culture, with outlets in Queen St Auckland and Cuba

St Wellington, plus a nationwide mail order service. Mr Fowlie points out there are huge anomalies and loopholes in the proposal that will allow retailers to flout the ban, and he has vowed to do so.

"For instance, we can still sell pipes if they are 'tobacco pipes' but not if they're called 'head pipes'. We can sell anything as individual parts. We can still sell any wooden and glass pipes. We can't put gauze in the bowls, but we can

still sell it separately. Roach clips are banned if they look like a cannabis "leaf seeds or fruit", but they're legal if they don't. Shops will be forced to become more like their American counterparts, who play a 'cat and mouse'

game with their anti-paraphernalia laws. For instance, we could sell keep selling bongs by removing the cones and sticking a plastic flower in the stem and calling it a vase."

"While we are pleased the time frame has been extended, we will continue to trade in these health-protecting devices, and if they want to prosecute us then that's their choice. We have a legal team ready and waiting."

"The Government likes to say it supports the principle of harm minimisation, but actions like this show they are more interested in punishing marijuana smokers than in protecting

their health. Pipes and bongs protect the health of smokers.

Water pipes in particular filter out carcinogenic tars, burning embers, ash, and cool the smoke. They specifically want to ban utensils that cool the smoke by passing it through water, and will also ban retailers from putting gauze in the bowls of pipes, even though their sole purpose it to prevent the inhalation of ash and burning embers."

Minister of Health Wyatt Creech today published a Gazette Notice in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act section 22(A) to make the importation and sale of certain defined 'paraphernalia' an offence punishable by up to 3 months in jail or a fine of up to $5000. Forty-one submissions were received by the Ministry of Health, including those by NORML

and the Hempstore. The Ministry noted there was "strong opposition" to the proposed time frame of 3 months to sell existing stock, so it will now come into force on the 1st of

July 2000. This appears to be the only change to the ban as originally proposed.

"This ban is directly contradictory to the principles of the

National Drug Policy, which was based upon minimising the harms associated with drug use, upholding people's rights where they don't infringe on the rights of others, increasing people's control over their own health, and favouring education to law enforcement.

"In our submission we offered to work with the Government in

getting information about cannabis out to our customers, but

obviously they're more interested in sending 'tough on drugs' messages that they are protecting people's health. It

is election year, after all."

The text of the submissions by NORML NZ and The Hempstore Aotearoa to the Ministry of Health are available by contacting Chris Fowlie at the numbers below. Additional information is also available on the NORML NZ web site http://www.norml.org.nz

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