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Cannabis complaint highlights need for law change

20 December, 2002
Failed cannabis complaint highlights need for law change

The decision by police to dismiss a formal complaint against MP Nandor Tanczos has made the Green Party even more determined to push for sensible cannabis law reform, Co-leaders Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald said today.

"The complaint against Nandor was a pathetic, vindictive political joke but it will serve some useful purpose if it helps highlight the wasteful misuse of police time and money in trying to enforce a bad law," Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

"Already police have wasted too many hours investigating what was never anything but a frivolous publicity stunt. This complaint was laid almost three months ago. How many police hours have been spent on it since then?

"In the year 2000-2001, police spent almost 300,000 hours investigating cannabis-related offences. That's equivalent to more than 150 officers working exclusively on enforcing what is largely a victimless 'crime.'

"Ask Auckland officers if they could use 150 reinforcements right now.

"Our cannabis laws are failing in every single respect and the $20 million price-tag to enforce the law - more than is spent on all other drugs combined - is achieving no return other than making criminals out of otherwise law abiding New Zealanders.

"We do have a problem with drugs in this country," said Rod Donald. "It's the problem of organised crime that flourishes under prohibition, targeting the most vulnerable members of society: our kids.

"If police stopped arresting adults for possession of small amounts of cannabis the $20 million could be much better spent on shutting down the tinny houses that are right now selling a range of drugs to our kids in every town in New Zealand.

"The police themselves know the law is failing and all around the world sensible governments are either changing to partial prohibition or decriminalising personal use for adults, and are instead focussing on drug education and treatment and a range of initiatives to keep kids off all drugs."

"We will be campaigning strongly in the new year for New Zealand to catch up."


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