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Mild Greens say “trust and value youth - LEGALISE”

Press Release: 19 October, 2000

Mild Greens say “trust and value youth - LEGALISE”

Christchurch drug law reformers say changing the hypocritical legal status of cannabis will be giving a gift of endurance for the youth of New Zealand.

The 1998 Health Committee Inquiry into the Mental Health Effects of Cannabis found that the harms were largely overstated, and that young New Zealanders understandably did not trust drug education, and were consequently put at risk.

The Health Committee concluded that prohibition doesn’t work, while stigmatising users - driving use and users underground and out of reach.

Youth mortality and morbidity were issues highly relevant to the agenda of Government’s Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy (MCDP), according to Health Minister Annette King (Health Forum Christchurch, 23 April, 2000). Adverse outcomes of the “double standards surrounding cannabis” were reflected in exacerbating youth crime, sexual health, teen pregnancy, tobacco uptake, binge drinking, and NZ’s appalling school suspension and expulsion statistics.

The MCDP has directed parliament’s Health Committee to conduct an inquiry into effective health promotion strategies for cannabis, with public submissions closing on February 7th, 2001. The criminal status has been singled out as requiring adjustment.

It appears, however, that Kevin O’Connell and Blair Anderson are the only youth advocates in New Zealand openly applying holistic theory to the problem of youth suicide, and pointing the finger at one particular inappropriate and repressive law. The Mild Greens said it was a tragedy that New Zealand still can’t talk freely and frankly about the consequences of bad drug policy.

“Our experience with the MMP Review Committee on Monday, where the MPs suppressed the cannabis reform candidate, showed that New Zealand still has a major hang-up to get over before we can claim to be a civilised democracy.” Representatives of New Zealand were failing to ensure the good order of the community, their specific responsibility under the 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act.

Legal regulation of pot (with an appropriate age of consent) is based on the principles of harm minimisation, truth, freedom and mutual respect. Legislating respect will engender healthy and responsible citizens.

The Mild Greens challenged Ministers of Health and Youth affairs (Hons Annette King and Laila Harre) to clarify the “link” between cannabis and youth suicide, in light of the evidence of 1998’s health committee inquiry.

A 1997 paper on the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy which explores the issues of cannabis repression and youth suicide may be viewed at http://www.alcp.org.nz/29sep97.htm

cc. Hon Annette King, Hon Laila Harre

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Kevin O’Connell, Blair Anderson ++643 389 4065 http://www.alcp.org.nz

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