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Youth Crime Pathetic Product Of Criminalisation

Youth Crime Pathetic Product Of Criminalisation Policy

Resolving New Zealand's Law and Order debate hinges on repairing "inefficient" cannabis policy say Christchurch's Mild Greens, who are gearing up for Saturday's "Liberation Day" - the global protest for cannabis law reform, happening across 190 cities worldwide.

Law and Order difficulties in NZ are the result of an obvious flaw in "criminal justice", say the Mild Greens. "How long does NZ have to put up with grossly expensive, unfair and hypocritical alcohol/drug policy? - it's time we had a law people respect."

The release of the Ministerial Task Force on Youth Crime report is being met with particular cynicism by the Mild Greens - who doubt that the task force has considered in the slightest, the impact of repressive and failed substance criminalisation policies.

Meanwhile a new report from the Christchurch Health & Development Study criticises the inefficiency of cannabis prohibition, and expresses concern at its apparent racist application - however Politicians (excluding perhaps, the Green Party's Nandor Tanzcos) seem unable to join the dots and advocate the cure.

Do the math, say the Mild Greens: half a million cannabis users (18% of surveyed Kiwis) multiplied by 100% criminality (inc. black market and cultural incentives) and exacerbated by 100% hypocrisy (and alcohol/tobacco double standards), equals normalisation of "miscreant" attitude and behaviour - and CHRONICALLY eroded mutual community respect.

The evidence in the community is of an escalating law and order problem and many young people who, quite understandably, do not respect the prohibitionist value system and the millions spent on phoney "law and order" administration.

"Has inefficient inequitable cannabis policy not got relevance to the discussion on youth and Maori crime (law and order) when the rule of law is so universally in disrepute?" asks policy adviser Blair Anderson. Mr Anderson was outspoken at last evening's "sensible sentencing" forum at the Cashmere Club in ChCh - attended by ACT justice spokesman Stephen Franks and "tougher sentences" Citizens Initiated Referendum campaigner Norm Withers.

"Appropriate, effective, HONEST AND FAIR cannabis policy is desperately needed", say the Mild Greens.

Studies such as the Christchurch Health and Development Study show 70% of young NZ'ers are tasting the forbidden fruit, and in doing so are fundamentally challenging prohibitionist values - and "just say no" drug education mentality.

The CH&DS research shows while most young people will use cannabis without going off the rails, there is a graduated scale of deviancy amplification - particularly amongst the marginalised groups such as Maori and unemployed.

Prohibition does not protect young people. Moreover it degrades the rule of law and lowers the threshold for bad behaviour and disrespect. The law and social context in effect promotes pot to kids. It is infinitely worse than doing nothing.

"Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command" - and it is hardly surprising…say the Mild Greens. "Time for early intervention…."

Youth uptake of cannabis in the Netherlands, where the substance is decriminalised, is far less, perhaps one quarter that of NZ - interestingly, so is the youth suicide rate - and - it is speculated - the rate of youth offending.

Sadly however, analysis of the dysfunctional criminalisation policy appears to be well outside the terms of reference of any debate on law and order in NZ. In Parliament its absence is most conspicuous.

While the sensible sentencing brigade are calling for youth offenders to be made accountable for their actions, few advocates are calling for the prohibition system to be made accountable for its insidious workings and outcomes.

Social policy naivety is not just parliamentary, but at the community level, where advocates of an integrated holistic solution (such as Nandor for example - and of course the Mild Greens) are constantly vilified, or trivialised, as being "pro-pot".

However, there is indeed a massive price to pay for not debating decriminalisation, say the Mild Greens. "Unwarranted police home invasion and "domestic terrorism" practice is driving the CYCLE of VIOLATION and victimisation in NZ".

The Mild Greens say that the purported 55% increase in so-called youth offending during the 1990s is a product of chronic policy fraud - and a system which has grown fat on the profits and "court turnover" of criminalisation.
Administrators of the system that won't admit it is wrong, are recommending more interventions predicated on erroneous prohibition, said Mr Anderson. More police, new prisons, and "programmes to turn around recidivist offenders" may sound plausible, but represent an escalation of the toxic social environment, said Mr Anderson.

How sad that Labour led government cannot seem to factor in decriminalisation as the highly indicated "early intervention" to rationalise drug regulations, put the brakes on criminal activity, and return respect to the community. The Mild Greens say Government's failure to deliver on the highly indicated "legislative implication" in respect of cannabis is highly contemptuous of Ottawa Charter Harm Minimisation principles - and an insult to the voting public.

"Bring on the Election" say the Mild Greens - "and elect MPs who are not gutless on really tackling crime and healing the community".
The Parliamentary silence on cannabis (prohibition) related harm, and delay in the adjudication of the health select committee on this issue reveal a real weakness in Prime Minister Helen Clark's leadership and advocacy, according to the Mild Greens.

The Mild Greens say that Parliamentary dishonesty and malfeasance on the cannabis health, law and order issue may yet prove to be the undoing of Labour, as it did National in the last election…

The National led Health Select Committee (chaired by errant National MP Brian Neeson) in 1998 and again in 1999 recommended a review of the appropriateness of existing policy on cannabis and it use, and reconsideration of the legal status of cannabis. The Committee's powerful recommendations have been subject to neglect, evasiveness and universal parliamentary cowardice ever since.

Meanwhile the incumbent Health Select Committee appears reluctant to decisively apply the principles of Harm Minimisation to the cannabis health promotion problem it has been working on (for how long now??), and put criminalisation to the House for a pre election trial and execution (by Order in Council).

"Please Health Select Committee - produce your report on cannabis related health promotion, and save us from prohibition", implore the Mild Greens - "Decriminalise the use of herbal smoking produce, restore adults' freedom of choice, and FIX the BROKEN WINDOW".

Ends

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