Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

NORML - APEC Leaders Should Consider Cannabis

AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL APEC DELEGATES

Kia Ora and welcome to New Zealand.

As you gather in Auckland to discuss ways to facilitate increased trade between the Pacific Rim economies, the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (New Zealand) invites you also consider the effect of cannabis prohibition policies on the people and communities of the Pacific.

Cannabis prohibition has widespread and severely detrimental effects on human rights and freedoms, and the extreme and violent nature of it's enforcement causes more harm than it prevents. Discussions about free trade are rendered meaningless without also restoring freedom for the people of this region and respect for their human rights. We call on all APEC delegates to recognise that:

1. Notwithstanding the vast amounts of legal and financial resources expended on law enforcement, the trade in cannabis and other illicit drugs has flourished around the world.

2. Prohibition creates a lucrative and violent black market that has seen increased profits for organised crime, increased property crime, the erosion of civil liberties, an increased burden on the criminal justice system and increased opportunities for corruption.

3. Tough policing has unfortunately only increased the harm associated with cannabis and other illicit drugs, without reducing demand for or supply of illicit drugs. The dependent user fears seeking treatment and the recreational user is undeterred but adopts high-risk practices and continues with his or her drug use.

4. Law enforcement leads to the arrest of many more drug users than large-scale traffickers and dealers, and drug use often continues inside prisons.

5. The removal of one so-called 'Mr Big' only clears the way for another to take over, and the drug trade continues to flourish.

6. Despite their best efforts, law enforcement agencies have only ever been able to interdict up to 20% of the drug supply, leaving more than 80% on the streets.

7. Law enforcement costs represent a disproportionate amount of funds needed to ameliorate the declining social and health problems of the very community it polices.

8. Cannabis prohibition removes the rights of people to make their own decisions over behaviours that only effect themselves. Cannabis prohibition creates fear, suspicion and divisions within communities and between peoples.

9. Many people use cannabis as a traditional religious or spiritual sacrament, including Hindus, Sadhus, Rastafarians, and Coptics among others, yet they are persecuted, arrested and imprisoned for their religious beliefs and practices.

10. Many people also find cannabis to be a useful and more effective medicine than pharmaceutical alternatives, including patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and intense pain. In particular, the United States federal Government continues to prosecute patients in States than have local laws authorising the medical use of cannabis.

11. Cannabis prohibition has resulted in millions of people in the Asia-Pacific region facing criminal conviction, fines, imprisonment, and even death for their drug use. There is a disturbing trend for harsher and more punitive sanctions against drug users: · Law enforcement policies in the United States have resulted in massive numbers of people being imprisoned for drug use, with the vast majority being Afro-Americans, even though only 13% of illicit drug users are Afro-American. More people have been imprisoned for marijuana use under President Clinton than any other President. · There are also thousands of people currently imprisoned in Chinese labour camps, and many people both in China and in other Asian nations are executed for their drug use. · New Zealand has some of the world's toughest cannabis law enforcement practices, yet drug use here continues to increase; the latest research has shown cannabis use has increased from 43% of all people aged 15-45 having tried cannabis in 1990, to 53% of that same age group in 1998. 16% of all people aged 15-45 in New Zealand admit to being regular cannabis users.

12. Many of the problems associated with illicit drug use are symptoms of disempowerment due to dislocation from indigenous culture, lands, language and social structures. Poverty and inequality of opportunity combined with a mainstream stereotyping and scapegoating of drug users have added to these problems. There is a need for culturally-specific harm reduction programs which are determined, conducted and controlled by these communities themselves.

13. Harm reduction programs, which have been shown to have positive outcomes around the world, have more chance of success than prohibition.

There is ample evidence that alternatives to drug prohibition should be considered. For example:

1. The World Health Organisation in 1998 released a report that acknowledged that the consumption of alcohol and tobacco is more harmful than the use of cannabis.

2. The United States' Institute Of Medicine in March of this year released a report that refuted the 'gateway' theory (that assumes cannabis use leads to the use of harder drugs), recognised that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, and acknowledged that cannabis can be a valid and useful medicine for many seriously ill people.

3. Curtin University in Western Australia only last month released a report that found that prohibition and decriminalisation has the same effect on preventing cannabis use, but that prohibition creates unnecessary and additional harms to cannabis users, such as loss of employment and travel opportunities, relationship difficulties, and an increased risk of further involvement with the criminal justice system.

4. The New Zealand Parliament's Health Select Committee in December 1998 issued a report that called upon the New Zealand Government to "review the appropriateness of existing policy on cannabis and its use and reconsider the legal status of cannabis."

5. The Harm Reduction policies in the Netherlands have resulted in a measure of success. The link between soft drugs such as cannabis and hard drugs such as heroin has been broken through the controlled availability of cannabis in some outlets. There is no significant difference in rates of cannabis use in jurisdictions that enforce a strict prohibition and those that have decriminalised.

We therefore call upon all the member nations of APEC to abandon cannabis prohibition policies forthwith, and to explore effective alternatives that serve to minimise any harms associated with drug use and abuse.

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this letter.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Chris Fowlie
National Coordinator
NORML NZ Inc.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Populism’s Changing Of The Guard, Plus A Soul Music Playlist

The weekend’s Newshub/Reid Research poll results - Act up to 11.1%, National up 1% but still sitting at only 28.7%, Labour down to 43%, the Greens up to 8.5% - shows that the combined centre right vote is still languishing nearly 12 points behind the combined centre-left vote, 45 months after the last centre-right government was voted out... More>>



 
 


Finance: Finance Minister And RBNZ Governor Agree To Update MOU On Macro-prudential Policy

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr have updated the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on macro-prudential policy to further protect the financial system and support the Government’s housing objectives... More>>

Government: Offers Formal Apology For Dawn Raids
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today formally apologised to Pacific communities impacted by the Dawn Raids in the 1970s.

Between 1974 and 1976, a series of rigorous immigration policies were carried out that resulted in targeted raids on the homes of Pacific families... More>>


Government: Bill Introduced To Protect Against Conversion Practices

Legislation has been introduced to Parliament to protect against practices intended to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression... More>>

ALSO:




Human Rights Commission: Successive Governments Responsible For Massive Breaches Of The Right To A Decent Home

Te Kahu Tika Tangata / Human Rights Commission has today launched Framework Guidelines on the Right to a Decent Home in Aotearoa and announced that it will hold a national inquiry into housing... More>>



NZUS Council: Welcomes Nomination Of Senator Tom Udall As US Ambassador To NZ

The NZUS Council welcomes the nomination of Senator Tom Udall to the role of US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, NZUS Council executive director Jordan Small said... More>>

BusinessNZ: Visa Extensions Welcomed
BusinessNZ has welcomed the extension of some critical skill visa durations and changes to immigration systems to speed processing. Chief Executive Kirk Hope says move acknowledges advocacy by the hospitality sector, the BusinessNZ Network and others, and comes not a moment too soon.... More>>

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels