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Ryall, McNair Scorned For Failed Drug Policies

National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, New Zealand Inc.

MEDIA RELEASE -- FOR IMMEDIATE USE -- 30 SEPTEMBER 2003

RYALL AND McNAIR SCORNED FOR PROMOTING FAILED DRUG POLICIES

The president of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML New Zealand), today poured scorn on recent statements by MPs Tony Ryall and Craig McNair about methamphetamine.

"These are probably the two MPs most out of touch with young New Zealanders", Chris Fowlie said. "Tony Ryall is notorious as the MP who claimed his local hospital was overflowing with cannabis cases, when it turned out there weren't any at all. Craig McNair is just a narc who has never even tried cannabis".

Last week Ryall and McNair labelled New Zealand's approach to drugs as 'soft', and called for tougher measures to fight drug users.

Mr Fowlie said that the Misuse of Drugs Act already gives police extraordinarily wide powers of search and seizure; and - at one every 22 minutes - New Zealand has the highest rate of arrests for cannabis in the world. Yet even our record-setting arrest rate did little to deter use, Mr Fowlie said.

Additionally, the so-called "P epidemic" had continued despite methamphetamine being rescheduled to Class A, and despite increasingly severe sentences being handed out by judges.

Prohibition of cannabis is a triple failure, said the NORML spokesperson. "Endless scare stories about cannabis discredits all drug education, and exposes young people to unnecessary risk. Uncontrolled markets focus on young people and involve them in cannabis use at ever-younger ages. And the illegal cannabis supply network is ready to supply of other substances with far greater potential for harm".

Tony Ryall and Craig McNair are therefore promoting a policy which does the maximum damage to young New Zealanders, concluded Mr Fowlie. "They could both learn a lot from the experience of countries like Holland, the UK and Switzerland".

"As a former Cabinet Minister, Tony Ryall failed to learn from the successful Dutch policy of separating cannabis from other drugs or take any useful action, and so is partly responsible for the increase in 'P' use", Mr Fowlie said. "Legalising and regulating cannabis would destroy P distribution networks and mean that there could be 150 more police officers going after P labs instead of wasting their time busting people for smoking pot."

ENDS

For more information or comments, please contact NORML's spokesperson: Chris Fowlie (027) 297 6843 or (09) 309 8653

http://www.norml.org.nz

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