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Nothing In The Budget For The Cannabis Community

National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, New Zealand Inc. 1st floor, 60 Queen Street PO Box 3307 Shortland St. Auckland Aotearoa New Zealand. Tel: (09) 302 5255 Fax: (09) 303 1309 E-mail: norml@apc.org.nz Internet: www.norml.org.nz

MEDIA RELEASE -- 17 JUNE 2000 -- FOR IMMEDIATE USE

HALF A MILLION DISAPPOINTMENTS: NOTHING IN THE BUDGET FOR THE CANNABIS COMMUNITY

The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws New Zealand (NORML NZ) has today expressed it’s disappointment with the Labour-Alliance Government’s budget, and called for an end to cannabis prohibition and a new emphasis on drug education.

"The Government could have used this opportunity to save millions of dollars by instructing police to stop arresting responsible cannabis users; and they could have put more money into drug education, but instead they have said that under this Government, it will be prohibition as usual," said NORML’s spokesperson Mr Chris Fowlie.

"Taxpayers spend $20 million a year arresting cannabis users, and even more to prosecute and punish them, yet cannabis prohibition has the effect of actually encouraging problematic cannabis use. We would all be far better served if the Government placed an emphasis on drug education rather than punishment. The head of Interpol and the Rand Corporation found drug education to be seven times more cost effective than law enforcement at preventing drug use.

"The Government has increased funding for the police, but by simply stopping the senseless arrest of thousands of responsible cannabis users they would have freed the equivalent of over 150 full time police officers.

"Michael Cullen said the budget was about ‘closing the gaps’, but they have done nothing to address closing the biggest socially destructive gap of all - that between those who choose cannabis and those who don’t.

"The punitive sanctions of the Misuse of Drugs Act serve to drive a wedge between users and non-users, between youth and their parents, between Maori and non-Maori, between workers and employers, between drug educators and those who use illicit drugs, between patients and their doctors, between generations and between communities.

"This social destruction is easily remedied by taking control of the cannabis marketplace. Cannabis prohibition is an abdication of control that hands over the industry to whoever wants to make a quick profit. Legalising and regulating cannabis means taking control. It means we can impose an age limit, we can raise tax revenue through excise taxes, and it means we can fully fund drug effective education and treatment for those who need it."

-- ends --

Contact: NORML spokesperson Chris Fowlie 09 302-5255 or 025 297-6843


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