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Nandor backs schools' call for help

Nandor backs schools' call for help

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today backed a call from the PPTA conference for more help to deal with drugs in schools, especially the growing use of hard drugs.

"Drugs have been in schools for decades, and under current policies the problem is getting bigger. It is time for the government and United Future to put up solutions instead of blocking them," he said.

United Future have signed an agreement with Labour ensuring that no age limit for cannabis possession and use could be established, a policy commitment of the Green Party.

Nandor said the Greens were the only party in parliament offering a solution. The Greens recommend putting in place an age limit of 18 years and using the $20 million plus per year currently spent on arresting adults for cannabis on targeting those that supply children. Resources also need to be reallocated to stopping the manufacture and sale of hard drugs.

"The Greens have already put our money where our mouth is. We negotiated an extra $500,000 for a new initiative to figure out the most effective drug education. A lot of the stuff being done now is, frankly, a waste of time and schools have little guidance on which providers to chose from.

"But it can't stop there. We need to support schools and communities with increased funding for drug education and treatment."

Nandor blamed hypocritical politicians for exacerbating the problem of drugs in schools.

"Peter Dunne wants people to be made criminals for the same things he did when he was young. How does he expect young people to have respect for that kind of law?

"It is gutless really. Peter Dunne has admitted that he has used cannabis. He has admitted that the law does not work. He has said he wants young people to escape conviction for cannabis offences. So why exactly does he think we should keep on arresting adults for personal use of cannabis?

"Prohibition makes cannabis easily available for young people through the illegal market. Right now cannabis is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anywhere in New Zealand, to anyone with twenty bucks, regardless of age.

"We should use the money wasted on minor cannabis charges to shut down the illegal market. That would get two birds at once by restricting kids access to cannabis and stopping the distribution of methamphetamine."

What they used to say about cannabis law reform

* "It breeds disrespect for the law when - and usually we are talking about young people - end up with a conviction for doing something that most others around them are doing and it wipes their prospects. It might affect their ability to do all sorts of things and for what point? I've always looked at it from a public health perspective." PM Helen Clark, 16 March 2000, Evening Post

* The Government will review the legal status of cannabis during this term of parliament, Health Minister Annette King said yesterday. Dom, 17 March 2000.

* "I sat through all the hearings on the select committee (NSW inquiry into cannabis law reform) and there was some pretty powerful evidence that the criminal status of marijuana was also seen to be a cause of some of the problems that young people have." Annette King, Dom, 17 March 2000.

* Mr Creech said National did not want to send a soft message, but instant fines without criminal convictions might be a more appropriate way of dealing with it. Dom, 17 March 2000.

* Mr Dunne said the current law was not working... [and that]... first time offenders under the age of 20 should be able to escape conviction in favour of education and treatment. Evening Post, 8 June 2001.

* "You can't have prohibition. The law is broken every minute of the day... We have to look at harm minimisation from a health perspective, and containment from a policing perspective." Health Minister Annette King, The Press, 23 June 2000.

* "However, based on the evidence received, we recommend that the Government review the appropriateness of existing policy on cannabis and its use and reconsider the legal status of cannabis." Health Select Committee Inquiry into the Mental Health Effects of Cannabis, chaired by National MP Brian Neeson, 1998.

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