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Address Racist Cannabis Laws

21 May 2002
Nandor Challenges Parliament To Address Racist Cannabis Laws

Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos will this afternoon ask the Maori Affairs Minister what action the Government is taking over a hard hitting new report which shows cannabis laws unfairly target Maori.

Nandor will ask Parekura Horomia during Question Time what he is doing in response to the Christchurch School of Medicine's study into arrests and convictions for cannabis offences which states:

'The bias with respect to Maori is of particular concern since it suggests that independently of cannabis use and previous police record, Maori were more likely to be arrested and convicted for cannabis use than non-Maori'.

"This study has been produced by the highly respected Professor David Fergusson. It is rigorous and unequivocal. Over two thirds of New Zealanders have used cannabis by age 21 and the cannabis laws are inefficient at catching them, ineffective at stopping them and racist in effect," said Nandor.

"We must do something in the face of such clear evidence and I am asking the Minister to take a lead.

"We now have clear and compelling evidence that the cannabis laws are racist in effect. I really wonder how some politicians can support young Maori being used as police fodder, especially some of the Maori MP's."

Nandor said the Green Party was the only party taking the issue seriously.

"Lots of politicians are prepared to cry crocodile tears over cannabis abuse while refusing to do a damn thing about it. The Greens have a commitment to better drug education. Last week we launched a Green Budget initiative as the first step towards a broad strategy on drug education.

"At the same time we need to legislate to control access to cannabis which is currently uncontrolled. Cannabis laws hinder effective drug education, increasing numbers of young people being kicked out of school, tens of thousands of ordinary New Zealanders have got a criminal record, and these laws are targeting Maori more than any other group.

"The challenge is for this Government, and for every MP, to admit that these laws are failing. It is time to stop playing politics with peoples fears and to start looking for solutions," said Nandor.

"The final paragraph of this study reads: 'It is doubtful that laws that exhibit this degree of inefficiency, bias and lack of efficacy can survive in the longer term.' I couldn't have said it better."

A copy of this study has been delivered to the office of the Minister of Maori Affairs, posted to the Health Select Committee Inquiry into Cannabis and copies are available for the media on request.

Ends


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