Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Govt urged to ease up on cannabis (>10 years ago)

Title: Evening Post article (NZ)
Published On: 1997-07-22
Source:The Evening Post (Wellington)
Fetched On:2008-09-08 14:11:32
Govt urged to ease up on cannabis

Outlawing cannabis is wrong and the Government must change strict cannabis laws, says a highpowered group of doctors and scientists.

The Drug Policy Forum Trust today released a discussion paper, offering four
new ways to control cannabis use.

It says freeing up the use of cannabis would have little adverse impact on public health it could even be "mildly positive" because alcohol and tobacco use would fall.

The group concluded that cannabis appeared to be harmless for about 90 percent of the people who used it, and that adverse effects were "substantially" less severe than those associated with excessive alcohol and tobacco use.

"We do not believe that cannabis is completely safe far from it" says the paper. "However, the health effects of cannabis are largely irrelevant to the problem of deciding which cannabis control policy to adopt.

"Indeed the more harmful we judge cannabis to be, the more important it is to exercise control over its distribution. Such control cannot be exercised in a prohibition environment, which in effect abdicates control to the black market."

The paper urges the Government to take control of the problem.

Forum director David Hadorn, a former Ministry of Health policy analyst, said while he expected the Government to try to push aside the paper, he doubted it would be ignored.

Its conclusions have angered and excited people on both sides of the cannabis debate.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party leader Michael Appleby, a Wellington lawyer, said the party had long supported partial prohibition. He was delighted with the paper.

He believed it would add momentum to the slow shift in attitudes towards cannabis and hoped the Goverment would be "brave" enough to listen.

But cartoonist Tom Scott, author of an antidrug book which was slated [criticized] by the forum, dismissed the conclusions as "bogus."

He said his primary concern was the teenagers whose lives were "wrecked" by cannabis. A law change would do nothing to help them.

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Doug Graham said no plans existed to decriminalise cannabis. She had not seen the paper.

The forum, an independent group which says it is dedicated to raising the level of debate about illicit drug use in New Zealand, formed its conclusions after studying international and local research.

Its paper says in the past 25 years no "scholarly" body has endorsed cannabis prohibition. It blames prohibition for creating a lucrative and often violent black drugs market, for blocking effective education programmes, increasing the appeal of cannabis to young people, creating disrespect fot the law, breeding police corruption and oppressing young people and racial minorities.

It rejects arguments that freeing up cannabis laws would increase the number of people who use cannabis. It says any increase would be small and largely limited to adults.

The group says it is imperative that effective education programmes be developed in conjunction with any reform of the country's cannabis control system.

It is calling for public submissions on the paper and says it will then make a specific recommendation early next year.

Dr Hadorn released part of the paper at a public meeting yesterday and said it was time scientists and professionals had the courage to speak up about drugs and not allow "people who don't know what they are talking about to drum up hysteria."

A copy of the paper is available on the New Zealand Drug Foundation Internet website ( as of today.

The forum trustees are Druis Barrett, Maori Women's Welfare League; Dr Robin Briant, Auckland Hospital senior physician, Dr Peter Crampton, Health Services Research Centre research fellow; Professor Fred Fastier, University of Otago emeritus pharmacology; Amster Reedy, Maori scholar, Professor Norman Sharpe, Auckland Medical School medicine department head; Helen Shaw, educationalist; and Professor Warren Young, Victoria University professor of law and assistant vicechancellor for research.


At a Glance

The Drug Policy Forum Trust's four alternative cannabis control systems:

* Total prohibition but with exceptions, as practice in Holland since 1976, where the Government agrees not to enforce the law under defined circumstances.

* Prohibition but imposing civil penalties, such as fines, rather than criminal penalties for minor offences, as operates in parts of Australia, Europe and America.

* Partial prohibition which would legalise limited possession and cultivation for personal use, but ban forprofit sale. This operates in Alaska, Spain, and Italy.

* Regulation in which cannabis would be treated much like alcohol and tobacco where growers would be license by a cannabis control board. Some personal cultivation could be permitted. No country operates this system.

* The forum rules out the option of free availability as insufficiently realistic to warrant discussion.


Who would have thought that National would preside over world first declassification 'Partial Prohibition' regulations and say nothing.

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

Social Ecologist 'at large' (currently in dispute with Google who removed it!)

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

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