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Bong ban is NOT Harm Minimisation, say ALCP

PRESS RELEASE: 8 July 1999

South-Island candidates of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party have nominated health minister Wyatt Creech "hypocrite and deceiver of the year" in response to his statement today about banning marijuana pipes and bongs- and giving retailers one year to dispose of stocks.

The minister has condescendingly pointed out that cannabis is illegal, and therefore bongs should be too- "to send a clear message." However to say this action is in line with government's harm minimisation policy "is a deceit, and contrary to the genuine intent of harm minimisation", said Blair Anderson- Christchurch electorate strategist, and intending MP.

In terms of preventing the spreading of influenza and meningicoccal disease, pipes are safer for individual cannabis smokers than the sharing of joints. It is also well known that pipes and bongs cool and filter smoke thus reducing harms, "so their responsible use should actually be encouraged in line with governments drug policy principle of harm reduction, if we are to be truthful and realistic" said Mr Anderson.

Government applies harm reduction in the case of needle exchange, but circumvents any compassion towards the hundreds of thousands who smoke cannabis from day to day in NZ.- "The claim to be targeting the reduction of harm that is already occurring from cannabis use is pure pretense", said party researcher Kevin O'Connell.

The ALCP recognise the need for urgent cannabis law reform, but oppose the promotion of cannabis use. Party analysts recommended to the Ministry of Health recently that there was a case for discretion in the public sale of cannabis paraphernalia, but that a full ban would, like that of cannabis itself, be counter-productive.

Mr Creech claims that clearly it is inconsistent to have paraphernalia on sale when cannabis is illegal- Trouble is, say the candidates, it is patently inconsistent to have 100 tonne of cannabis traded a year in NZ, with a massive criminal underworld and police and courts turnover, when the drug is supposedly "prohibited". :-THIS IS THE INCONSISTENCY THAT REQUIRES ATTENTION- as the Health Select Committee has repeatedly highlighted, twice calling for a review of the appropriateness of existing cannabis policy.

The recent Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit survey showed there are an estimated 14,500 New Zealanders who were unable to seek help to reduce cannabis use, "effectively because the only apparent health service available is police harassment", said Mr O Connell.

Government s latest action is predicated on a bad law, and paraphernalia will remain just as prevalent in spite of any ban- with literally hundreds of thousands of pipes still to be legally sold as retailers empty stocks in the next 12 months, and kiwis continue to make their own.

No doubt the black market body count will continue too if this contemptuous Government is re-elected. The ALCP will campaign to ensure that the next Minister of Health moves to reverse the repression and damage perpetrated by Government s senseless prohibition regime.

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