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Jeanette challenges Jenny to debate on cannabis

17 November 1999

Jeanette challenges Jenny to debate on cannabis

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today challenged Prime Minister Jenny Shipley to a public debate over cannabis policies.

"The public would be much better informed after such a debate than it would be through National Party scaremongering statements," Ms Fitzsimons said today. "I am happy to discuss changes to my busy schedule to have this debate, which I hope would be televised."

Ms Fitzsimons said Mrs Shipley was "just plain wrong" in her claims about the effect of Green Party cannabis policies.

"Mrs Shipley's own Police Minister, Clem Simich (eg p2, The Dominion, 26 February 1999), Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamere (eg p3, 'The Press', 29 June 1999) and a large number of authoritative figures have called for a rethink on cannabis laws (eg Dr Peter Crampton of the Wellington School of Medicine, NZ Herald page 12, March 11, 1999).

"Many police and judiciary believe our present law is failing," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Independent experts have attacked the Government for its lack of response to calls for a new approach."

She said Mrs Shipley was playing politics with children's health.

"Very young children are currently smoking cannabis. The Green Party is the only party with an effective policy to stop this," Ms Fitzsimons said.

She said the Greens were committed to a "harm minimisation" approach to drugs policy. The party's cannabis policy combined with the Green Party's commitment to preventative health would:

* end the gangs' stranglehold on cannabis overnight

* allow proper health education

* free up tens of millions in police resources to expand frontline policing

"Personal cannabis use is a health issue not a criminal one," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP 025 586068, 021 1170268, 025 2874325, 07 8686641 Paul Bensemann, Press Secretary 021 214 2665

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