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Current Law Only Encourages Teenage Cannabis Use

Government Must Get Real: Current Law Only Encourages Teenage Cannabis Use

“The Government has to start getting real on the issue of cannabis prohibition because the current law only encourages young teenagers’ use of the drug”, said the NORML NZ’s Auckland spokesperson Stephen McIntyre today.

Mr McIntyre was referring to new data indicating a link between adolescent cannabis use and lower academic qualifications.

“These findings support NORML’s call for a legally regulated and controlled cannabis market in New Zealand, similar to the Dutch model,” he said.

"We all agree that young people shouldn’t use drugs with potential to harm their natural development," said Mr McIntyre. "The current law doesn't keep cannabis out of the hands of young New Zealanders. In fact, the very opposite happens”.

"I’m a parent of teenage children and the real issue here for me is the law,” he said.

“In 35 years - the same time as the Dunedin longitudinal study - the Misuse of Drugs Act has succeeded in creating a lucrative black market controlled by organised crime.”

“Since the late 1990s, that black market has set up ‘tinny shops’ in neighbourhoods everywhere selling to anyone, any time. Subsequently, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of teenage cannabis use in the world."

"Almost 35 years ago, the Netherlands successfully introduced regulated sales to adults through licensed cafes. It now has one of the lowest rates of cannabis use by teenagers, according to the World Health Organisation*."

"The Law Commission is currently reviewing the Misuse of Drugs Act. This study is further evidence prohibition simply does not work," he concluded.

* Degenhardt et al. 2008. Toward a global view of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use: findings from the WHO world mental health surveys. PLOS Medicine 5: 1053-1067.

ENDS

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