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Cops get the message on cannabis: figures prove it

16 July, 2004

Cops get the message on cannabis - figures prove it

Green MP Nandor Tanczos said today that new government figures demonstrating a continued fall in convictions for minor cannabis offences shows that decriminalisation of cannabis is inevitable.

In response to written parliamentary questions from Nandor to Justice Minster Phil Goff, it was revealed that 1984 people were convicted of cannabis use or possession in 2003, about half the figure recorded for 1993 where it peaked at 3717.

"The New Zealand police are taking a more realistic approach to cannabis." said Nandor, the Green spokesperson for Cannabis Law Reform.

"Police have driven law reform both in the UK and in Holland, because police recognise that they have more important things to do than arrest people just for cannabis possession.

"It's time our legislation caught up with the attitude of the New Zealand public and the realisation by police that investigating cannabis offences is a waste of their time.

"I've got real concerns for the almost 2000 people who got a conviction last year for a substance that more than half of all New Zealanders have tried," said Nandor.

"While I support the police continuing to prioritise their work in this way, it does not remove the need for legislative change. Evidence already shows that Maori are seven times more likely to be convicted than their cannabis-smoking Pakeha friends. As long as it's left to police discretion this is likely to get worse.

"Simply put, no adult should be made a criminal just for personal use of cannabis."

ENDS

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