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Coalition Government won't go soft on cannabis

Progressive leader says Coalition Government won't go soft on cannabis


Progressive leader says Coalition Government won't go soft on cannabis

Progressive leader Jim Anderton is pleased that the Health Select Committee hasn't recommended any change to the legal status of cannabis.

"No consensus for change means there is no mandate for change. And so long as there is a Labour-Progressive coalition the public can feel secure that the present government won't be going soft on drugs," Jim Anderton said.

Jim Anderton is in Whakatane to promote regional economic initiatives. While in the eastern Bay of Plenty he is also meeting with representatives of Maori, community and local government leaders on the issue of methamphetamine, which is the latest drug with serious consequences for the community.

He said he would carefully study the report of the Health Select Committee released in Wellington today at the earliest opportunity.

The Inquiry into the Public Health Strategies Related to Cannabis Use and the Most Appropriate Legal Status was released by the Health Select Committee, a multi party committee of Parliament on which the Progressive Party isn't represented.

The coalition government's response to the committee's recommendations will of course be made in due course.

”However, I am pleased that the select committee hasn't recommended any change to the legal status of cannabis because if the committee had recommended to legalize the drug then the Progressives would not have supported such a move," Jim Anderton said.

“I personally do not favour giving a green light to young people that it is OK to use drugs. While I have some sympathy for those who say young lives shouldn’t be wrecked just because someone is caught with a joint, there can’t be free passes. We have enough problems with slack alcohol laws. We don’t need to encourage more drug taking as well,” Jim Anderton said.

Jim Anderton said some journalists were asking him what he thought of the opposition Green Party's Minority View as outlined in the Health Select Committee's report and the Greens' nationwide campaign to legalize the drug.

"All I can say is that the Greens, who do understand the importance of tackling youth alcohol problems, should try harder to be consistent when it comes to other drugs that we know are destroying too many young lives. It is the abuse of alcohol, which causes the most damage to young people – and alcohol is legal.

"Since the liberalization of alcohol laws in 1999, consumption of alcohol by young people has continued to increase. If liberalization is the Green's answer, then they must be asking the wrong question," said Jim Anderton.

Jim Anderton is chair of the Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy and Associate Health Minister.

The Progressive Party is campaigning against liberalisation.

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