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Failure Of Cannabis Prohibition Must Be Confronted

"Calls by the School Trustees Association and politicians to maintain the status quo and keep cannabis illegal overlook the complete and utter failure of prohibition," Deborah Morris said on behalf of the Coalition for Cannabis Law Reform today.

"There is a great deal of common ground between these parties and advocates of law reform. For all of us, the priority is about reducing the harm associated with cannabis, ensuring the appropriate level of investment in drug education that actually works, and pursuing workable law and policy."

"However, to suggest that parliament should not be pursuing a review of the law is to suggest that the current law and policy will suffice, when clearly, it will not. The Health Select Committee Review into cannabis is the first review of the legal status of this drug. This is the first time since the Misuse of Drugs Act was passed into law in 1975 that parliament has had the opportunity to look closely at the ways in which prohibition exacerbates harm and creates barriers to the provision of effective health promotion and public health strategies.

"Proponents of the status quo must recognise that it is in a prohibited climate that cannabis runs wild in our schools and communities and does the most harm to those who are vulnerable. Prohibition has been a complete and utter failure and this is a fact that must be confronted.

"The Coalition for Cannabis Law Reform advocates the controlled availability of cannabis in a regulated, legal, market so that drug education can be supported in an honest environment. Only then will New Zealand get on top of the issues associated with cannabis use and abuse, and only then will we see the harms reduced.

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"It is a misnomer to think that we can continue with the current legal framework if the STA and its members are really serious about keeping young people safe. Criminalising thousands of people, and especially the young and Maori, does nothing to improve the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. Cannabis law reform is about radically improving the management of cannabis and confronting New Zealanders' socialisation around all drug use and abuse," Ms Morris said.

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