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"Just bloody regulate it" say drug reformers

Drug law reformers say that Parliament's Health Committee should expeditiously review the legal status of cannabis - "and quick smart", because the committee is already sitting on drug scheduling legislation, the Misuse of Drugs Amendment bill #4 - and is due to report back at the end of the month.

Blair Anderson and Kevin O'Connell say that Parliament already has a ready-made model for reform, based on principles of health promotion, harm reduction and justice and freedom- the Green Party model - as broadly publicised by M.P. Nandor Tanzcos.

Instead of insisting that the Justice and Electoral Committee conduct the review, the Greens should be bargaining for their election winning policy to be put to the house for a vote -and utilising the window of opportunity presented by MDA#4. This course of action may also appease Act and National parties who say that an alternative to existing policy should simply be put forward, and there is no need for further Select Committee delay.

Reformers believe that considerable ground work has been done in the Health Select Committee 1998 Inquiry into the Mental Health Effects of Cannabis. They say that the committee stopped just short of recommending an end to total prohibition "- for political rather than evidential reasons".

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill #4 allows for Government to reschedule drugs expeditiously by executive order in council. O'Connell and Anderson say that the legislation is almost perfectly suited to the reform initiative - and should include a clause to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act so that adults' cannabis use and cultivation ceases to be an offence - Submitters on the bill at a hearing on the 5th of April, including Anderson and O'Connell, recommended the re-institution of an independent Drugs Advisory Committee to assist development of regulatory controls and education.

Expeditious transition of the legal status will allow credible education to be implemented in the 2001 Physical Education curriculum. More importantly, the public need to be educated that total prohibition is wrong and unsustainable.

Anderson and O'Connell say Parliament should "just bloody regulate it" - start treating cannabis a lot more like alcohol and tobacco -and diverting the tens of million spent on enforcement into health promotion. "The Justice Committee should be left to handle an Inquiry into the workings of the Misuse of Drugs Act with a view to righting apparent injustices - applying restorative justice and perhaps assisting in supervision of the legal status transition."

The health committee meets today at 11:15 am to discuss MDA#4 and, one would expect, the Minister of Health's request that the committee handle the law review.

Kevin, Blair (03) 389 4065 - a Mild Green initiative

Blair Anderson mailto:blair@technologist.com

Blairs Brain on Cannabis - > is now available on the Web. Direct you browser to:

Electorate Candidate, Shirley Ward By Election, Christchurch City Council http://www.alcp.org.nz/candidates/blair

Electorate Strategist, Christchurch Branch, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

Media Center - phone ++64 3 389-4065 Web site http://www.alcp.org.nz

It is time within drug policy, to set aside moral cowardice, and adopt harm minimisation; it is the stuff of social capital.

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