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Fix whats Broken! No truth in cannabis sentencing

There can be no truth in sentencing while one 6th of the surveyed population are regular marijuana users and tens of thousands are victimised and herded through the courts and prisons branded cannabis criminals, say members of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

Parliament's Law and Order select committee heard evidence from the Christchurch Branch of the ALCP in regards to the former Government's Truth in Sentencing legislation as a "means to providing public safety"

In the context of the manufactured illicit status of cannabis, say the ALCP, the Truth in Sentencing legislation - intended to ensure the sentencing system reflects public expectations, and "keeps violent criminals of the streets" is a farce.

I"Every one knows that the profits to be made are because this popular drug is illegal", said Mr Anderson, party strategist from the Christchurch Branch who presented Thursdays's hearing. "New Zealand has a 200 tonne p.a. cannabis black market, if we conservatively interpret the University of Auckland's Geography Departments 1998 estimates (Greg Blunden)."

"There is no end of resentment and alienation and disrespect cultivated by the justice system which is based on counter productive policing of illicit drugs, and home invasion of cannabis users"

Bad laws breed disrespect -the whole "tough on crime" debate is anomalous, and the focus needs to be on restoring mutual community respect, "So Fix whats Broken first - then worry about the best means of rehabilitation for those that commit real crimes", said Mr Anderson.

Contrary to opposition sentiment at question time, Policy Analyst Kevin O'Connell said the "the illicit cannabis status diverted policing, court, legal aid and corrections resources away from integrated restorative justice options...", adding that "the Law and Order Cmte has evidence that the previous government suppressed a cost benefit analysis of cannabis policing, despite strong advice from the Ministry of Health that the impacts of prohibition be accounted for".

All to frequently the costs relating to public safety approaches are ignored or downplayed with the implication that the publically acceptable solution [the bill] is the only matter of importance.

Appleby emphasised "We dont want tough laws, we want wise laws" complementing on the Mild Green submission call that before truth in sentencing, we need wisdom in sentencing.

The Mild Greens will present also to the Health Select Committee next Wednesday (5th April, 10:30am) regarding the Misuse of Drugs Amendments Bill, which could potentially rationalise drug harm minimisation interventions, and fast track a conscience vote on cannabis.

Michael Appleby, Leader ALCP, ph 04-9349389 Blair Anderson, Kevin O'Connel, ph 03-3894065 www.alcp.org.nz

Blair's Brain is in the Thinktank


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