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Democracy tainted by prohibition, say Cannabis Par

Labour is expected today to call for a Commission of Inquiry into the cannabis laws, issuing a full judicial review in order to fulfill its elected promise. "This should take the form of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission", say members of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

"We seek to end cannabis discrimination and denial", say the ALCP. Party members were disturbed by prejudice against the Cannabis Party message evidenced in the election campaign and commentary. There has been a subtle but clever "foxing" of public attitude, say party executives.

Exclusion of the Cannabis Party from TV1 coverage culminated in ongoing footage on Saturday night featuring Wellington Central results with no mention of 3rd place getter, Michael Appleby. This was despite Mr Appleby's name and Party affiliation being highly relevant to "green issues" which dominated the campaign. A Wellington lawyer, and father of many, Mr Appleby is well-regarded as leader of the Legalise Cannabis Party.

Notwithstanding action being taken immediately on the untenable criminal status of cannabis and its use, members of the Cannabis Party may soon be calling for another election. "Denial of cannabis is a sickness of the New Zealand consciousness and must be healed without delay", say ALCP members. The Christchurch branch stated tonight that New Zealand and in particular its MPs and media had to face up to the cannabis issue, and that the measure of this new Government was how soon it implemented "de-criminalisation" as promised, and "restorative justice" as demanded.

Evidence of dereliction of cannabis truth is constantly on television, thanks to prohibition. "and there is real distrust of authority", said Party strategist Blair Anderson, referring to last night's Sixty Minutes "tough love" success story (also on Government directed Television One). "The young boys were made to say that being stoned was the reason they didn't get help for their friend exhibiting epileptic seizure, when the real reason was that under prohibition they would have been scared of the consequences of being honest [about their smoking of drugs]", said Mr Anderson.

Misguided "media drug-prevention mentality" should not be allowed to keep misrepresenting the issue. "The coerced view on the effect of cannabis witnessed is an ethically dubious example of manufacturing consent", he said.

Waimakariri candidate Kevin O'Connell is pursuing a complaint with the Human Rights Commission after being excluded from a "meet the candidates" forum at Kaipoi High School when Cannabis was the main election issue. "Under prohibition it is difficult to have mature discussion of views", he said. This perpetuates the problem and does a grave disservice to democracy.

"The threatening environment must cease, for the sake of our children" say the Christchurch Branch, who are positive about the swing against National on the night. Cannabis Party analysts have repeatedly drawn to the attention of Parliament that there was a causation relationship between National's repressive drug controls, and youth suicide and other harms.

An 'unnatural and perverse' anti-cannabis discrimination has spoiled the democracy in NZ, say members of the ALCP. "While social ecology is one half of the picture, as a modern nation facing crisis after crisis, we can't afford not to be growing hemp", say the ALCP. "It is a human rights abuse that this good plant is denied."

Existing law is destructive of civil freedoms and profoundly wrong, says the Party. The state has no moral authority to arrest innocent adults for possession and cultivation of a seed bearing herb, it says, and will maintain a vigil of conscientious objection until every violation has been accounted for. Newly elected Labour MP for Christchurch East Lianne Dalziel, has agreed to fast-track legislation to appropriately expunge convictions.

It is the new Government's duty to assist people rise above circumstance about which they had no control. Meanwhile, the election may be ruled as invalid, because the Bill of Rights Act, 1990 prohibits arbitrary discrimination against expression of ethical belief as evidenced during the 1999 election campaign. The alleged abuse of democratic process will be a matter for the Human Rights Commission to rule upon.

In respect of the cliffhanger election outcome, Cannabis Party members believe the Green Party may have "fallen short" by not adequately weighing in the discriminatory implications of anti-cannabis legislation.

With two hundred thousand special votes still to be counted and the final result of the election by no means determined, the Cannabis Party is already guiding a conscience into parliament.

Kevin O'Connell, Blair Anderson, ph (03) 389 4065 Christchurch Branch wk 389 6876

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