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Youth forum on cannabis law reform

24 January 2000

Media Statement

For immediate use

Over 40 young people gathered at the Beehive in Wellington today to share their views and learn more about the cannabis law reform debate. The youths that took part raised issues such as why people use cannabis, drug dependency, differing perceptions of the harmful effects of cannabis and alternatives to prohibition.

There was broad agreement among participants that drug education needs to include accurate information and real experiences of drug use from real people - something that is difficult to achieve under the present situation of total prohibition of cannabis.

Youth participants expressed the need for drug education that addresses the underlying reasons, such as family background and low self-esteem, that lead people to abuse all kinds of substances including tobacco, alcohol and cannabis.

"It was good to see so many young people getting involved in this debate because it's an issue that's important to young people today," said Forum Co-organiser and Wellington City Youth Councillor Louise Simms.

Forum Co-organiser Ben Knight said "The day was a great success and is a model for sensible and rational discussion on this contentious social issue.

"We want to encourage more young people to get involved and make submissions to the Health Select Committee inquiry into the legal status of cannabis. Today's forum was intended to allow young people to have a voice in the political process that they are often alienated from" he added.

The deadline for making submissions to the Select Committee inquiry is February 7.

For more information please contact: Ben Knight 025 377509 or Louise Simms 04 383 6181

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