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Justice Select Committee place for cannabis debate

Green Party justice spokesperson Nandor Tanczos agreed today with the Health Minister that a Select Committee inquiry would be a good way to investigate the options for cannabis law reform, but said it was crucial that the issue be debated in the appropriate Select Committee.

"The Health Select Committee has already looked at the health effects of cannabis. Under the chair of National's Brian Neeson it unanimously recommended a review of the law," said Mr Tanczos.

"Before any legislation is put forward we need to look at all the options and discuss which is the best one. There has not been a review of the law since 1973 and it is long overdue. The Justice and Electoral Select Committee is the right place for that."

Mr Tanczos said comments from Jenny Shipley that a Select Committee review would confuse people showed how little respect she had for the intelligence of New Zealanders.

"Jenny Shipley thinks that giving New Zealanders a say, and having an open discussion, will just confuse people. She obviously thinks that decisions are better made in ignorance," he said.

Mr Tanczos said Mrs Shipley's suggestion to simply put up legislation and debate it in parliament showed how back-the-front the National Party's consultation process was. Legislation was premature because there still had not been a proper discussion about which option was the best.

"You don't make good laws by writing legislation without all the information and then trying to amend it when it becomes a mess," he said.

"We need to give New Zealanders a chance to say what outcomes they want from a cannabis policy and then look at the evidence on how to best achieve those outcomes. That way we get the best results.

"This approach would allow full and thorough consultation with the public instead of turning the issue into a political ball game as is happening now," said Mr Tanczos.

"A thorough review by the Justice Select Committee would compliment the review by the Health Select Committee. Such a review would guarantee everybody the chance to have their say and would ensure all the facts saw the light of day."

Ends

Nandor Tanczos MP: 04 470 6716, 025 246 5235 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133


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