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Anti-cannabis petition opposed

Anti-cannabis petition by National/School Trustees Assn opposed

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

Spokespersons - Michael Appleby, Leader, ph 025 40 33 63 Jeanette Saxby, Deputy Leader, 025 243 4111 Brandon Hutchison, Secretary, (03) 342-5119 email: secretary@alcp.org.nz

Anti-cannabis petition by National/School Trustees Assn opposed

"The one million parents targeted by the National Party/School Trustees petition should ask themselves if they really want to preserve laws which have failed to protect their children", says Michael Appleby, leader of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

Any parent who is concerned about the level of cannabis use in schools should see through this politically inspired petition, says Mr Appleby.

The Party has campaigned for five years on the basis that existing cannabis prohibition laws do far more harm than good, hindering effective drug education and leading to family conflict, alienation and even youth suicide. "The law obviously does not stop cannabis use - what it really does is harm young people", says Michael Appleby, a father of four daughters. "Parents and teachers who are worried about cannabis use in schools will want a better solution than simply keeping the status quo".

Michael Appleby says he expects the petition will meet substantial oppposition from informed parents.

Almost 40% of adult NZers believe that they should be able to legally grow or buy cannabis, says Michael Appleby, quoting a 1999 NZ Herald Digipoll. "The prohibitionist approach is dead. What people want is to find a way to regulate and control access to cannabis. Current policy leaves the supply of cannabis to the anarchy of the underground market. "

Legalising cannabis is the only sensible solution to the problem of child access, says the Party. "Cannabis coffee shops in Holland would lose their licence if they sold cannabis to those under age," says Michael Appleby. "That's a far more successful approach to under-age cannabis access, as proved by the Dutch drug statistics".

Mr Appleby slammed the National Party for initiating the petition, which he says is trying to exploit public fear and ignorance.

"Why is National now choosing to ignore the unanimous recommendation of the previous Health Select committee - chaired by National MP Brian Neeson - to review the legal status of cannabis?" he asks.

It is sad that members of the School Trustees Association have fallen in with this politically-motiovated campaign, he says.

The Party is writing to the Association, urging it to reconsider support for current failed prohibitionist policies and suggesting all Boards of Trustees should support the long-overdue review of cannabis laws, and look at other countries such Netherlands which have their drug problems under much better control.

"Preaching abstinence and threatening dire punishments is no way to solve drug problems" he says. "Its a policy of wishing away the problems. We have had 25 years of increasing failure of the Misuse of Drugs Act, and we should be ready to think about finding a better alternative".

- ends

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