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HEALTH WARNING : Absence Of Govt Responsibility

Press release to all media, and MPs. 11 Oct, 1999

HEALTH WARNING : absence of government responsibility

Cannabis policy analysts warned today of the risks of sharing spit by passing of joints, or tobacco cigarettes. Blair Anderson, and Kevin O'Connell, also candidates in the general election, were working on intervention protocols, late in Christchurch tonight.

"This was because of urgent help needed for problems arising in South Auckland and Northland, and elsewhere in NZ- especially with diseases like meningitis, tuberculosis, and also influenza and colds, and of course glandular fever."

It needs to be understood in no uncertain terms that marijauna joints are on the infection pathway.

They referred to statistics suggesting one in 10 young persons are regular smokers of cannabis (Dunedin Health Multidiciplinary Study, 1997) and a warning from the health minister over a year ago, which has resulted in little action, at extreme risk and apparent cost to the Public Health (see: Dominion, 12 Aug, 1998).

"Where is the publicity campaign, and the effective drug education?- Literally tens of thousands of young people especially are at serious risk", said Mr O'Connell. "New Zealand's Ministry of Health is for some unfathomable reason, not performing in this crucial area. It is an outrage."

"In the absence of Government responsibility, the recommended health procedure would be abstinence, or otherwise to get into the habit of not sharing joints" said Mr O'Connell. This would necessitate "smoking a cone", or using only an individual's own pipe or bong to be relatively safe.

However it is believed the protocols of harm reduction are Âsubject to a crack down under outgoing Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley", he said. Pipes and bongs were being subject to tigher controls under new "tough on drugs" initiatives. The policy analysts said they wanted "an inquiry into the mismanagement of public health and harm minimisation expenditure", in respect of drugs in New Zealand.

"It is about time more MP's started listening to progressive scientific sources like the ALCP, NORML, and the Drug Policy Forum Trust, not to mention Parliament's own health committee, said Mr Anderson. He said the "don't share spit campaign" was developed in Christchurch but only used in Taranaki. "Christ knows why- there are lives probably being lost right now".

"There is to much ignorance and lack of analytical thought, and this is masking the harms."

The computer specialist is hoping to overcome hardware problems with his opening address in the Benjamin Franklin Institute's, "Global day of Learning.", on the Internet today, at http://www.bfranklin.edu

Educating about harms related to smoking of cannabis also needs to be considered in the context of tobacco, and drinking of liquor (sharing bottles, etc.), and the double standards that operate around these drugs, according to the Health Select Committee inquiry into the mental health effects of cannabis, 1998.

"Young and old alike have been unnecessarily oblivious to the risks", said Mr O'Connell- "there is a responsibility of our senior elected representatives, being sadly neglected."

"It is believed there is growing support (masked by political safety) for cannabis liberalisation in Parliament, by no one is saying anything about health issues which are intrinsically linked with cannabis and the secrecy around its use", said Mr Anderson. "This is where we are determined to make a difference".

Mr Anderson is running for Parliament as an independent for Te Tai Tonga (if his offer wins acceptance from Maoridom in the form of 2 electorate nominees). Mr O'Connell is number 3 on the Cannabis Party List and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party will be conducting a special Public Health Forum in the Chch city mall at 1:30 pm today.

"Senior government politicians especially have ignored vital evidence, and should be held accountable", say the Christchurch Branch of the ALCP.

Blair, Kevin- phone (03) 389 4065

Blair Anderson blair@technologist.com Independent Candidate for the Great Southern Land, Te Tai Tonga

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