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Youth Parliament to debate decriminalisation

Youth Parliament 2000 will debate the pros and cons of decriminalising marijuana for personal use, Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harré announced today.

The mock Bill will be known as the Partial Decriminalisation of Marijuana for Personal Use Bill.

The topic was selected after feedback from selected youth MPs.

Laila Harré said this reflects the desire of young people to be part of the public debate around this issue.

It will also extend discussion beyond what adults think is good or bad for young people, she said.

"Debate around this issue often focuses on the perceived impact decriminalising marijuana would have on young New Zealanders.

"This is a chance for the government to get a clear picture of what this group really thinks about moves to change the law, rather than just speculating on the possible results."

The Partial Decriminalisation of Marijuana for Personal Use Bill does not seek to legalise possession, use or supply of Class C marijuana.

It sets out a new process to address the possession of small amounts of Class C marijuana for personal and private use.

A background paper is being prepared on marijuana for Youth MPs, who will also receive reference documents to prepare them for the debate.

Laila Harré said Youth Parliament is an important event for young New Zealanders.

"This is one of the ways the government is working towards increasing the input young people have into decisions that affect them," she said.

Youth Parliament is a special event that has been held every three years since 1994, and each Member of Parliament has selected a young person to represent them as a Youth MP.

Proceedings will also be covered by a Youth Press Gallery.

The third Youth Parliament will sit on August 28 and 29, when 120 Youth MPs will convene in Wellington to take part in all aspects of parliamentary life.

Activities will include select committee hearings, minister's question time, and legislative debate.

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