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Stephen Berry Challenges Coroner Over Cannabis

Thu, 24 June 2004

Stephen Berry Challenges Coroner Over Cannabis

"Nelson coroner Ian Smith should stick to his job and avoid adding political policy to his workload," said Libertarianz Deputy Stephen Berry today. "The logic behind Mr Smith's support for cannabis prohibition and the irrelevance of his reasons are another flimsy fence limiting personal freedom."

Coroner Ian Smith bases his opposition to cannabis legalisation on the many cases he sees of people dying in accidents following cannabis use, in particular a recent car crash in which a Nelson man was killed following alcohol consumption and the smoking of cannabis. Berry points out however that these cases are already occuring in an environment in which cannabis use is prohibited: "It just makes no sense to support the continued prohibition of a substance that is causing this level of harm under prohibition. There is little doubt the alcohol alone would have been enough to make him an unsafe driver. What made this driver a danger is the victim's willingness to drive while impaired."

"A person may choose to drive under the influence of a substance whether the substance is legal or not," Berry points out. "If people are driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, such a problem must be targeted. There is no justification for jailing people simply for the choice of substances they consume."

"Libertarianz maintains that individuals are the rightful owners of their lives and bodies. Individuals are also responsible for their actions: there should for example be no defence of diminished responsibility if damage is caused while under the influence of any substance. If however a person is exercising responsible sovereignty over their own body without initiating force against others, then it is nobody else's business."


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