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Cannabis busts down in latest crime stats

26 August, 2004

Cannabis busts down in latest crime stats

Green MP Nandor Tanczos said today that the latest crime stats indicating a significant drop in the number of recorded cannabis offences is a sign that, unlike politicians, the police are getting their priorities in order.

Nandor, the Green Party's Drug Policy spokesperson, has welcomed the 11.4 per cent decrease in recorded cannabis offences, from 20,626 in 2002/03 to 18,271 in 2003/04 ending June 30. At the same time, increased police attention has seen 190 methamphetamine laboratories busted.

"The police seem to be taking a more sensible approach, in line with overseas trends," said Nandor.

"In the UK reclassifying cannabis was explicitly to allow police to focus on 'hard' drugs and on crimes with victims. That seems to be what is starting to happen here. Cannabis offences have gone down while convictions for other drugs such as 'P' have increased."

"This is positive in that that hundreds of ordinary New Zealanders haven't had their lives turned upside down by a cannabis conviction.

"Still, nearly 2000 New Zealanders were busted last year for marijuana. No adult should be made a criminal solely for using cannabis," he said.

Nandor noted that legislative change in the UK, Holland and Canada, where a more realistic approach to cannabis law has been taken in recent years, tended to be driven by police.

"Its time that the politicians woke up and smelled the flowers," said Nandor. "As in other countries the police have taken the initiative, but this is ad hoc and inconsistent. The law must change."

Nandor said the Green Party was pleased to see crime rates coming down in key areas. Drops in dishonesty, violence and sexual offences indicated that New Zealand was a better place to live.

"Crime is a result of desperation and unhappiness with society. These figures show that New Zealand is getting on the right track to a happier and more productive society," he said. "Let's keep it that way."


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