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CYF Ill-Served By NZ's Hypocritical Cannabis Law

26 August 2002

Child, Youth And Family Ill-Served By NZ's Hypocritical Cannabis Law

NZ's recent wave of teenage killings is a product of alienation from rule of law, and the mechanism of cannabis injustice is unmistakably fuelling a cycle of violation in the community, say the Mild Greens.

There is nothing new in the argument that cannabis prohibition degrades law and order, according to the reformers. Prohibition policy fosters the Black Market, and in its policing of a 'consensual act' promotes ad-nauseam mistrust and disrespect of authority (US National Academy of Sciences, 1982, Premier's Drugs Advisory Council 1996, etc).

"The nation's leaders are remiss in not admitting the glaring possibility that the hypothesis (criminalisation causes crime) fits the evidence".

Instead commentators such as Children's Commissioner Roger McLay are implicating marijuana prevalence per-se in the decay of the Nation's moral framework, when marijuana use needs to be understood in the dangerous context of its questionable illegality (c.f. ALCP research officer's report to the Health Select Committee inquiry into the mental health effects of cannabis, 1998).

The 1998 select committee on cannabis and mental health produced a comprehensive and conscientious 40-page report recommending government "review of the appropriateness of existing policy on cannabis and its use, and reconsider the legal status". While that report implied criminalisation was a likely factor behind mental health problems associated with cannabis, the 2000-2002 health strategy Inquiry conducted under a progressive, liberal Labour led Government, has yet to produce one word to add to the debate.

After a massive public investment in this process in the last parliament, Helen Clark's new government has contemptuously stitched up a coalition deal effectively disavowing the process.

Not only do we have a cycle of violation, say the Mild Greens, but we have public figures and politicians reinforcing the prejudice which is sustaining NZ's toxic cannabis law.

"The chickens are coming home to roost, in respect of hypocritical, inappropriate drug controls like marijuana, and alcohol double standards", say the Mild Greens.

Where "mind enhancing" marijuana is used today amongst tens of thousands of young and not so young New Zealanders, the use predictably often coincides with mistrust of authority and rejection of conservative values. The dangerous extreme of this alienation can manifest in senseless killings, as New Zealand is so grimly finding out.

As the Nation gnashes its teeth and searches its soul as to how some of our young people are becoming so bad, the Mild Greens say STOP CRIMINALISING FOR A NON CRIME - stop hypocritical bullying people over the relatively innocuous herb, because injustice breeds disaffection, anger and madness.

While not entirely enamoured with the Green Party's analysis of injustice issues (cannabis decriminalisation does not rate a mention in the Green Party's nine page Justice policy), the Mild Greens are backing Nandor Tanczos's call for publication of a summary of evidence presented to the recently lapsed select committee on cannabis.

"The public of NZ have a lot to gain by from understanding why 3 out of 4 submitters to the inquiry have distain for existing policy."

Meanwhile, politicians, commissioners, bureaucrats and enforcers are milking the dysfunctional society to justify their well paid "problem solving" abilities. While they fail to acknowledge the "unintended consequences" of prohibition, the leaders of the country are charlatans and pretenders to the public good - and the problems remain...

The determinant of NZ's matrix of dysfunction is criminalisation. Switch the one to a zero and the dysfunction will disappear.

Parliament must debate this NUMBER ONE ISSUE affecting NZ, until the policy catches up with the evidence (regulate cannabis with a legal age, as we do with alcohol and tobacco), say the Mild Greens.

Government has in place the mechanism to put drug classification to the test in line with principles of best practice, and with the assistance of a statutory Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs. And indeed, Health Minister Annette King promised in enacting Misuse of Drugs Act amendments, November 2000, to make drug classification thenceforth subject to science, not politics - and Parliament unanimously endorsed the call.

But until Parliament is honest about the failure and unintended side effects of cannabis prohibition, the institution remains in contempt of the public good, and the "senseless" violence will continue in our community.

And while one of the best minds in the country, PM Helen Clark, can at worst describe cannabis use as "a misdemeanour", the System is comprehensively engaged in perverting the course of Justice.

Stop the self-replicating cycle of harm and hypocrisy, say the Mild Greens.

"As you sow, so shall ye reap."

"Alienation from rule of law in a democratic society may be the most serious cost of the current Marijuana Laws" - National Academy of Sciences, 1982

"The dollar you spend on demand reduction is seven times more cost-effective than the dollar you spent on law enforcement" - Premier's Drugs Advisory Council, Victoria Aust/ Ray Kendal Interpol General Secretary, 1996

Mild Green Initiatives phone ++64 3 389-4065
Web site http://www.mildgreens.com
"Blairs Brain on Cannabis" CHCH PlainsFM 96.9 every Wed 10:00pm



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