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Govt funding website on dodging drug laws

Tuesday, 9 November, 2004

Alexander: Govt funding website on dodging drug laws

A Youth Law website, partly funded by the Government, gives teens advice on how to dodge drug laws and sends them to a drug-legalisation website for further information, United Future law and order spokesman Marc Alexander revealed in Parliament today.

"This is just another sign of a government that talks the talk, but never backs it up," Mr Alexander said after tackling Justice Minister Phil Goff on the issue.

"Mr Goff can downplay the Government connection all he likes, but the reality is that the State through CYFS and the Justice Ministry is putting in around $1.3 million to a website that tells young people how they can avoid apprehension for drug offences - and that will never be good enough.

"Never mind $1.3 million - $1.30 of Government funding for that purpose would be $1.30 too much," he said.

"The website advises young people that they can escape being brought to account for dealing Class C drugs such as cannabis if they give them to others rather than selling them, and also tells young people that if they are caught dealing drugs and are under 17 and then they are unlikely to go to prison," he said in Parliament.

Mr Alexander said the website also had an image "depicting a young man taking a hit from a P pipe".

"And for further legal advice on drugs, the website directs young people to NORML, the lobby group for the legalisation of cannabis."

Despite the Government's supposed hard line on alcohol abuse by underage drinkers, the Youth Law website also tells young people that "you can let people drink alcohol at your party at any age but you cannot sell it to them ... If you charge a door fee for the party this could be seen as a charge for the alcohol so it is not a good idea to try and get around the law like that."

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Youth Law, a youth legal rights advocacy group, is getting $1.2 million over three years. The New Zealand Community Funding Agency and CYFS have also provided a total of $114,000 since 1994/95.

"Mr Goff and the Government need to harden up on drugs and give one message and one message only - drug use is not on," he said.

Last month, United Future questioned Mr Goff in Parliament as to why the draft drug education handbook for schools stated that harm minimisation, and not drug avoidance, was its primary goal, and why it avoided promoting abstinence in case it "stigmatises experimentation with drugs as deviant behaviour". The final version of the handbook was substantially amended to avoid such references.

Phil Goff has stated several times in Parliament this term that the Government would not decriminalise cannabis this term because of its agreement with United Future.

"United Future seems to be the only bulwark against wholesale liberalisation of drugs by this pink-think Government."

ENDS

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