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Government response to cannabis report a sidestep

Government response to cannabis report "a sidestep"

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today queried why it took the Government so long to fail to respond to the Health Select Committee's recommendations on cannabis.

"The Governments response is essentially a clever sidestep. They have not even begun to address the issues raised by the Health committee," said Nandor, the Green spokesperson for Cannabis Law Reform.

"They are basically saying 'thanks for all the hard work, but don't call us, we'll call you'."

Nandor said that there were a small number of interesting points in the 18 page report.

Paragraph 16 says "the Government notes that its major prevention-based project is the Ministry of Youth Affairs' three year drug education project that aims to identify and encourage best practice for alcohol and drug education for young people, for families and for communities".

Nandor noted that this is a Green initiative that was negotiated in early 2002 between himself and Laila Harre, the then Minister of Youth Affairs. "It is interesting that the Government's major prevention-based project and the only new drug education initiative of recent years is the one that the Green Party developed."

The Government's response also highlighted the National Drug Policy that states: "the emphasis of the NDP is one of harm minimisation, rather than abstinence from drug use".

"That is the philosophy that underpins Green policy, and a philosophy that contradicts the approach taken by Mr Anderton," said Nandor.

"Unfortunately the Government has failed to capitalise on the good work done by the Health committee. The Government response is a recipe for more of the failing status quo.

"The Government has reiterated that there will be no legislative change this term. That's why it's important that the Justice and Electoral Select Committee pick up the work they've been asked to do by the Health Select Committee.

"Law reform is inevitable. That work will help to ensure that future policy decisions are based on the evidence of what is effective, rather than on cheap politics as is the case now" said Nandor.

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