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Moses Challenges Tanczos Over Cannabis Conundrum

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Wellington College head Roger Moses has challenged Green MP Nandor Tanczos
to meet principals to discuss cannabis law reform.

The occasion was a public debate between Mr Tanczos and Associate Health
Minister Jim Anderton at the Johnsonville Community Centre on Wednesday
evening that attracted 150 people.

"Day in, day out, we are faced with young people who are de-motivated and
dropped out," Mr Moses said.

"Yes, your arguments are plausible, (but) I don't think they are credible."
Mr Tanczos readily accepted Mr Moses' challenge.

There was no winner on the podium, and nor was there a popular winner with
an animated audience apparently evenly divided.

Mr Tanczos detailed the long history of cannabis use in New Zealand
beginning with its introduction for medicinal purposes by Sister Mary
Aubert to her Whanganui River-based order.

Most submissions to Parliament's Health Select Committee review of cannabis
law favoured decriminalisation, he said.

"This is not a radical issue.

"This is a mainstream issue that has the support of a majority of New
Zealanders."

One area of agreement between Mr Tanczos, Mr Anderton and the audience was
that the law's focus ought to be the protection of teenagers.

"Where problems do happen, a harm-reduction approach is what is needed," Mr
Tanczos said.

While cannabis possession is a crime, college students caught with it are
usually suspended or expelled to stay at home, where they might spend their
time smoking cannabis.

"The best thing we can do is keep young people within
education...prohibition makes education and harm-reduction difficult."

Mr Anderton said the law should focus on one group and one group only: "The
young people of this country."

He was a wowser who did not drink until he was 30, and has never smoked
cannabis, he added.

"Drugs are not a life-enhancing lifestyle choice. Quite the opposite is true."

Mr Anderton ridiculed a recent Green Party campaign against unhealthy foods.

"How on earth you can denounce breakfast cereals and fizzy drinks, and then
want cannabis decriminalised, I don't know.


Pubdate: Fri, 12 Dec 2003
Source: Cook Straight News (New Zealand)
Address: PO Box 13-089, Johnsonville, New Zealand
Contact: ccn_editorial@wilsonandhorton.co.nz
Author: Jim Chipp