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Northland cannabis forum broadens debate

27 November 2000
Northland cannabis forum broadens debate

Green MP Nandor Tanczos said he was heartened at the range and quality of ideas floated by the Kaitaia community at a forum last Friday on how New Zealand could do better in dealing with cannabis.

"The people of Kaitaia have significantly advanced the debate on cannabis policy by passing an unopposed resolution calling on the Government to regulate cannabis as it does alcohol and tobacco. It is important that all the policy options are fully discussed," said Mr Tanczos.

The public forum to discuss cannabis issues drew an audience of over 100 people. Unlike previous forums, invitations went out to people on all sides of the political spectrum and debate. Local MPs Dover Samuels and John Carter declined an invitation to attend, as did Leader of the Opposition Jenny Shipley.

There was widespread agreement among people at the meeting that cannabis abuse in the community was symptomatic of wider social problems and issues.

"This is the first time in human history that we have said to our young people 'we don't want you, there is no work for you to do', " said psychologist Les Gray, one of the speakers.

The bulk of the evening was given over to the audience to have their say, with a number of people speaking passionately from the floor.

A number of resolutions were passed unopposed, including:

* That cannabis be regulated in the same fashion as tobacco and alcohol;

* That abuse of cannabis and other drugs such as alcohol are symptoms of a wider social problem;

* That families have to take more responsibility for providing guidance to the young;

* That the meeting was concerned about the way that cannabis laws are policed

Solutions included:

* Providing meaningful occupations to people;

* Promoting the development of a hemp industry in Northland;

* More community control of the police;

* Good role modelling by adults.

The meeting also called on the Health Select Committee Inquiry into cannabis policy to come to Kaitaia to hear submissions.

Nandor Tanczos MP: 04 470 6716, 025 246 5235

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