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Police show restraint, will Minister follow suit?

24 June, 2004

Police show restraint, will their Minister follow suit?

Green MP Nandor Tanczos has welcomed the facts revealed during Parliamentary question time today that since he became a member in 1999, cannabis convictions have dropped 19 per cent while police time spent on cannabis has decreased 18 per cent.

"While it is true that the Green Party have worked very hard towards sensible and responsible reform of cannabis laws, credit must be given to the police who have realised how ineffective prohibition is in reducing the harm of drug use," said Nandor, the Green spokesperson for Cannabis Law Reform.

"We still have very high rate of cannabis convictions in comparison to most other countries, but it's pleasing to see that police are re-prioritising their time away from cannabis despite the agreement between the Government and United Future.

"However, law reform is still needed because the evidence shows that Maori are more likely to be prosecuted and convicted of cannabis offences, and so what we would suspect is that more middle-class white kids are being let off.

"Diversion can be an effective tool under the current regime, but it must be applied consistently to all people in all areas," he said.

Nandor said that Mr Hawkins response to questions raised in Parliament today was contemptuous of the needs of elderly people to use effective, safe and affordable pain relief.

"Older people should be very concerned at the attitudes about the medicinal use of cannabis expressed by the Minister today in the House," said Nandor.

"The Minister has effectively given a green light to police to bust older people who use cannabis responsibly and entirely for their own personal and medicinal use, while at the same time many elderly live in fear of home invasions and being bashed in broad daylight for their wallets and handbags.

"You've got to wonder where his priorities and compassion are. Nineteen people over 60 years-old were busted for cannabis offences last year yet the only thought the Minister could offer was that no-one should use cannabis because it's not labelled correctly.

"If the medicinal use of cannabis was allowed, then information regarding its safe and most effective use would be available. The Minister's support of prohibition actually denies the availability of information and therefore creates a more dangerous situation for older people," said Nandor.

"Older people have sacrificed too much for New Zealand to bother living under stupid laws in the twilight years of their lives. I fully support the choice of adults to use the most effective pain relief available to them."


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