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Cannabis party welcomes drug law changes

Press Release: 16 November 2000

Cannabis Party welcomes drug law changes

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party is welcoming the passing of an important new drugs Bill which puts cannabis legalisation well within the capacity of this Parliamentary term.

Cannabis Party General Secretary Brandon Hutchison said that the requirement to robustly scrutinise drug classifications is “a major legislative breakthrough”.

ALCP supporters believe marijuana prohibition cannot sustain evidential scrutiny.

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act (No 4) features the introduction of an “Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs” which will work with the Health Ministry, Health Select Committee and the Public, in resolving drug classification issues.

The ALCP is mildly concerned that the expert committee does not include a sociologist - to assist with weighing up the harms black markets and criminalisation. Nevertheless Health Minister Annette King has signalled a systematic review of the drug schedules - and reason demands that certain substances be legally regulated.

With the amendments passed, classification will now be governed by matters such as “prevalence of the drug”, “levels of use”, “risk, if any, to public health”, and “experience of the drug in other jurisdictions”.

A crucial new power of the Act allows the legal status of a new or existing drug to be altered by “Order in Council”. In theory, full decriminalisation can occur within 30 days of a Ministerial commencement order. No bill would be required.

ALCP leader Michael Appleby said that the Labour might restore its chances of winning a second term in Government if it judiciously appoints the advisory committee, fast tracks the cannabis review process, then uses the new provisions to legalise NZ’s most popular herb.

“After 25 years of increasingly counter-productive prohibition, there is good reason for the conscience of the house to be voiced on this issue”.

Submissions on the Health Select Committee’s inquiry into health strategies relating to cannabis use close on 7th February.

The ALCP is considering a proposal that marijuana be incorporated into the current Smoke Free Environment’s Amendment bill. Consolidating “smoking” legislation would address double standards and provide a sensible place to put cannabis when declassified under the new drug law provisions.

The Misuse of Drugs amendments as reported from the Health Select Committee may be viewed at http://www.alcp.org.nz/reports/mdaamend.htm

Michael Appleby 025-403-363 Brandon Hutchison 025-492-990

ALCP media centre +643 389 4065


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