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Greens / Govt. reach agreement on cannabis inquiry

Greens / Govt. reach agreement on wide-ranging cannabis inquiry

The Green Party today said it had reached agreement with Health Minister Annette King on plans for a wide-ranging cannabis inquiry by Parliament's health select committee.

The Greens have held concerns about the health select committee simply revisiting the issues covered by that committee in its 1998 review, but have agreed that if the terms of reference are broad enough that cannot happen.

"Contrary to attributed comments in one paper today, the Greens believe the health issues related to cannabis must be included. However the impacts of the criminal law must also be a major focus," said Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. "The Greens have always strongly maintained that cannabis is a health issue, not a criminal issue. We are pleased that the terms of reference for this review will be broad enough to canvas the full range of issues. The Minister of Health has agreed to our request that the committee be advised by officials from the Ministries of Justice, Education and by the police as well as health officials," she said.

"The 1998 health committee review recommended that the laws on cannabis should be reviewed. This is what needs to happen now."

Ms Fitzsimons said it was crucial that this review was comprehensive. She said any move towards decriminalisation of cannabis needed to be accompanied by nationwide education campaigns and that this area must be fully explored as part of the review.

"Our health and justice spokespersons are satisfied that the agreement we have reached will cover both of their respective areas. Both Sue Kedgley and Nandor Tanczos will be involved in the review," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said that earlier today Green health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley had sent the media a feature article on the health implications of cannabis use. Copies could be obtained on request.

Ends

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

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