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Report on cannabis lays foundation for law change

Report on cannabis lays foundation for law change

The Green Party is confident that cannabis law reform is now inevitable following the Health Select Committee report into cannabis.

Green MPs Nandor Tanczos and Sue Kedgley have welcomed the long awaited report, saying that it presents a compelling case for change. Some of the key points include:

· Moderate, adult use of cannabis has low risk, but heavy, chronic and underage use can cause harm

· The most effective public health strategy is one based on harm reduction and community action.

· The aim of cannabis legislation should be to prevent young people using cannabis. Non-problematic adult use should not be criminalised.

· Cannabis prohibition does not prevent underage use and creates significant problems of its own, including acting as a 'gateway mechanism' to hard drugs.

· Progress can be made with medical use of cannabis, more use of police diversion, reclassification of cannabis by the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, and the Justice and Electoral Committee looking at the justice and civil rights issues and the best model for legislative change.

"In light of the current concerns around increased use of methamphetamines, the comment in the report that 'prohibition facilitates the black market and exposes cannabis users to harder drugs' should make us all sit up and take notice," said Green Drug Policy spokesperson Nandor Tanczos.

"The conclusion is inescapable: prohibition is the gateway to harder drugs.

"The report also highlights the increase in cannabis use itself under prohibition. It notes that the result of law reform in the Netherlands is that far fewer young people use cannabis compared to New Zealand"

Green Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley said the report acknowledges that for the majority of occasional cannabis users, there is a low risk of cannabis-related harm.

"The World Health Organisation acknowledges that cannabis use is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco," said Ms Kedgley. "This calls into question why we maintain prohibition against the adult use of cannabis when alcohol and tobacco have been demonstrated to cause more significant health risks."

"The Green Party strongly supports the harm minimisation approach to cannabis use that aims to reduce the incidence and severity of drug use. As the report acknowledged, it is hard to educate, offer treatment to young people or do research when the drug is illegal.

"I am very pleased the report supports the possibility that cannabis products be available for medical purposes. This would be welcome relief for thousands of sufferers of debilitating pain in New Zealand who could now have a natural alternative to a cocktail of chemicals currently on the market," said Ms Kedgley.

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