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Youth Must Be Protected From Drug Culture Says PM

Parents should be aware of the extreme cannabis policies of the Greens and the influence they would have over health policy in the Labour/Alliance/Greens bloc," Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said in the Coromandel electorate today.

"Decriminalising cannabis would rot the minds of our young people, cripple their potential and give drug dealing gangs more power in neighbourhoods throughout our country.

"The Greens may have considerable influence in the Labour/Alliance bloc and they have found an ally in Helen Clark who supports decriminalising cannabis," said Mrs Shipley.

Mrs Shipley made her comments in Katikati today after launching an information guide for parents on alcohol, drugs and young people, produced by the Ministry of Youth Affairs.

"National does not want to see young people smoking dope and wasting their lives. But Labour is welcoming Greens' policies which would see people smoking dope alongside cigarette smokers in family restaurants throughout New Zealand.

"We do not want to see young people dropped out of school, polytechnic or university, stoned and paranoid hanging around in parks and other public areas.

"I call on Helen Clark and Jeanette Fitzsimons to join with National to declare war on all drugs and thereby support our children's future.

"Cannabis destroys the lives of young people and their families. Vitality and mental ability and general health are all significantly affected by heavy marijuana use.

"Studies have found a link between heavy marijuana use and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. It can also cause intense toxic shock syndrome or 'cannabis psychosis' which can last for several weeks.

"National has no intention of sending a message to young New Zealanders that getting stoned is ok. It is not and other parties during this election must show the same leadership.

"A greater question lies with Helen Clark. Is she happy to get into bed with a party knowing full well it strongly supports legalising cannabis. Whatever next will this cosy relationship reveal?" Mrs Shipley said.

ENDS

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