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Cannabis Law Reform Still On The Agenda

9 August 2002

Cannabis Law Reform Still On The Agenda

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today confirmed he would seek to introduce a private members bill to make cannabis R18, and allow adults to grow their own for personal use.

Nandor said despite Labour saying the Government would not introduce legislation on cannabis law reform, a vote on the issue would be a conscience vote and he hoped MPs would vote on the facts.

"Everyone knows the current laws are failing. Cannabis is easier for young people to get than alcohol, because there is no age limit. Society has left control in the hands of the tinny houses. We need to find ways to restrict access to cannabis for young people.

"At the same time the Greens, and many others MPs, want to stop making criminals out of otherwise law abiding adults. If people are behaving responsibly, then leave them alone. If they are not, we should make sure they have access to good drug education and treatment," he said.

Nandor said the Greens welcomed this Government's commitment to drug education saying it was a continuation of the work that the Greens started earlier in the year with the Minister of Youth Affairs.

"But all MPs should read the 1998 select committee report into cannabis, chaired by National MP Brian Neeson, which found that the cannabis laws were a major barrier to effective drug education," he said.

Nandor also challenged Peter Dunne to show some spine.

In June 2001 Mr Dunne told the Select Committee Inquiry into Cannabis that although the current cannabis laws were not working, he did not want them to change. He went on to say that first-time offenders under the age of 20 charged with possession should not get a conviction. They should have education and treatment.

"That sounds like cannabis reform to me. Instead of pretending to be all things to all people, Mr Dunne should just focus on trying to do the right thing," said Nandor.

"He has admitted that the law doesn't work. He has advocated reform so that young people are given education and treatment instead of criminal convictions. It is bizarre that he has now made his support for these failing laws a bottom line" he said.

"The Prime Minister and Peter Dunne share common ground with the Greens on the view that cannabis laws are failing, but political expediency has taken priority. It is a shame that they have opted for the appearance of concern rather than substance."


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