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School Trustees & National launch anti-dope petiti

Nick Smith

National Education Spokesperson

Thursday 13 July 2000

School Trustees & National launch anti-dope petition

School Trustees Association President Owen Edgerton and National's Education spokesperson Nick Smith today launched a nationwide petition to get cannabis decriminalisation taken off the agenda.

"Young people need cannabis decriminalised as much as they need a gun to their head. The drug destroys young people's vitality, ambition and capacity to learn. Our petition is a plea to the Prime Minister to put young people and their education to the fore and take decriminalisation off the agenda," Dr Smith said.

The petition is being jointly organised and promoted by the School Trustees Association and National. The petition will be circulated to all 2700 schools in New Zealand and will be presented to Parliament in October.

"We want to mobilise New Zealand's one million parents and get the Government to rethink. We welcome a debate on how education programmes can be made more effective, how treatment for users can be improved and how to increase support for families. We are also open minded about increased use by police of diversion as an alternative to criminal prosecution for first time offenders.

"However, the ongoing talk about decriminalisation is giving young people the message that cannabis is okay. It is making the already difficult job for Principals and Boards of keeping schools drug free impossible.

"The Prime Minister, Education Minister and Health Minister have got it wrong in indicating their support for decriminalisation. We are worried that with the Greens controlling the balance of power, cannabis decriminalisation will become a negotiating chip in a political game in which young people will be the losers.

"The Government needs to understand that every element of the education sector - Parents, Unions, Principals and Maori - are united in opposition to cannabis decriminalisation and will work to mobilise the community against the Government," Dr Smith said.

The School Trustees Association and National share the view that a Select Committee Inquiry into the legal status of cannabis should not proceed saying the longer the question is left open, the more damage is done.


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