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Schools in a haze over dope debate

Nick Smith

Opposition Education Spokesman

8 June 2000

Schools in a haze over dope debate

The debate on cannabis decriminalisation is sending all the wrong signals to young people about the dangers of the drug, says Opposition Education spokesman Nick Smith.

Dr Smith has joined the New Zealand Secondary Principals Association and the New Zealand Youth Trust in criticising the Government's stance at a Drug Education Forum at Nelson College last night.

"Teachers and principals are in an impossible position. It is difficult for schools to take a firm line on cannabis when the Prime Minister and Minister of Education as well as high profile Green MP Nandor Tanczos are publicly advocating decriminalisation. It is little wonder that more students are being caught with the drug.

"The Government needs to take stock and start listening. When you have the Secondary Principals Association and the NZ Youth Trust saying those who favour decriminalisation of cannabis do not have the interests of young people at heart, it is time to sit up and take note.

"Having a select committee mull over the issue for 12 months is only going to continue the uncertainty. It is time for the government to put up or shut up.

"The Government should increase its investment in drug awareness education, expand successful treatment programmes and improve the police systems for dealing with minor offenders through the diversion scheme.

"Decriminalisation needs to be taken off the agenda so we can focus on better education and treatment programmes for offenders. We must stop sending mixed messages to young people about the seriousness of the drug," Dr Smith said.


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