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NORML New Zealand: Cannabis News Network

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Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000 12:27:24 -0800
From: KTKrane@aol.com (by way of "D. Paul Stanford" <stanford@crrh.org>)
To: restore@crrh.org
Subject: NZ: only two months left to make your cannabis inquiry
Message-ID: <>

NORML New Zealand: Cannabis News Network
** Please forward and distribute this message **

Dear friends and colleagues,

Today, December the 7th 2000, leaves just two months to make your
submissions (we prefer to call them "instructions") to the NZ
Parliament's Health Select Committee's inquiry into cannabis.

It is of vital importance that everyone with an opinion on the legal
status of cannabis has their say. The last examination of New Zealand's
cannabis law was in 1972-3, and that report recommended
continuing prohibition "only so long as it is seen to be largely
effective". Since then, cannabis use in New Zealand has risen to be one
of the highest in the world, with 52% of adults aged 15-45
admitting to have tried cannabis, despite the world's highest cannabis
arrest rate. Clearly prohibition has failed, and it is time to try
another approach.

Below you will find information to help you put a submission together.
Anyone in the world may make submissions, and they can be made via email
to sc-health@parliament.govt.nz

If you have any questions or need any help, please do not hesitate to
get in contact. If you can help publicise this inquiry or donate funds to
enable us to do that, please let us know.

Please forward this message to everyone you know who may be interested.


Chris Fowlie
NORML New Zealand


Get up, stand up for your rights!

Send a submission to the health committeeis cannabis law reform inquiry
before 7 February 2001

This inquiry is your opportunity to have their say about what cannabis
policy you want. We need to all play our part to demonstrate there is
both overwhelming evidence and public support for cannabis
law reform.


iTo inquire into the most effective public health and health promotion
strategies to minimise the use and harm associated with cannabis, and
consequently the most appropriate legal status of

DUE DATE: 7 FEB 2001

How to write a submission: (itis easy!)

1) Label your submission as iSubmission to the Health Committeeis
Inquiry into Cannabisi.

2) State who you are or your organisation is.

3) It can add impact if you outline your interest in / involvement with
the cannabis issue.

4) You must first discuss your ideas about the most effective public
health and health promotion strategies to minimise the use and harm
associated with cannabis. For instance, more emphasis on
education, provision of harm reduction information, eliminating the
black market, effectively controlling access to cannabis, reducing the
harms imposed by the law itself, providing
effective treatment for all who need it, and so on.

5) Then discuss your ideas about the most appropriate legal status of
cannabis and how that will advance these strategies. For instance you may
believe that cannabis prohibition impedes effective
education and treatment, and that cannabis sales should be regulated by
law in a similar way to alcohol and tobacco sales. Your submission could
discuss your own experience with
cannabis, the effect of being busted on your life, cannabis as a
substitute for alcohol and hard drugs, civil liberties and human rights
arguments, sacramental use, medical marijuana, economics of
prohibition vs legalisation, the experience of other countries, etc.

6) Itis a good ideas to run your submission by someone else to check for
clarity, accuracy, spelling mistakes, etc. Use facts and figures wherever
possible, rather than making unsupported statements.

7) Say whether or not you wish to appear in person before the Committee.
The inquiry is likely to travel outside of Wellington to other centres.

8) Submissions should include your full name and contact details, but
you can ask for these details to remain private if you wish. You can make
more than one submission.

9) Submissions should be posted to:
The Clerk, Health Select Committee, Freepost, Parliament, Wellington
Submissions can also be e-mailed to: SC-Health@parliament.govt.nz

For more details on submissions, how to write them and what to say see:

Go ahead, take a few minutes and write a submission. Encourage others to
do the same, and make sure you do it before 7 February!

Some points you may want to make:

Cannabis policy should differentiate between problematic and
non-problematic use: The vast majority of cannabis users suffer no
harmful consequences from their decision to use cannabis, other than
being branded criminals. Arresting these otherwise law-abiding citizens
serves no legitimate purpose, extends government into inappropriate areas
of our lives, and causes enormous harm to the lives,
careers and families of the thousands of marijuana smokers arrested
every year.

i Policies should discourage irresponsible use, including use by
adolescents. The best way to prevent drug abuse is with honest, credible
and factual drug education. Only when marijuana is viewed from
a public health perspective, instead of a criminal perspective, can
prevention efforts be effective.

i Prohibition destroys our civil rights and the notion of a free
society: Prohibition affects everyone. It violates our freedom to choose,
our right to self-determination, and the principles of
justice, privacy, property and liberty. Laws should exist to protect
these rights, not destroy them.

Cannabis prohibition is ineffective: The eDrugs in New Zealand 1998i
report found 52% of New Zealanders aged 15 - 45 will admit to having
tried cannabis, and 16% describe themselves as current users.

i Cannabis use rose more than 20% from 1990 to 1998, a period of tougher
laws and increased arrests.

i The same survey found that prohibition only works for about 7% of
people: of the 48% who have never tried cannabis, only 15% said the law
was their reason for not having done so. Of those who had
stopped or reduced their cannabis use, only 4% said the law was their

i Prohibition encourages use by glamourising cannabis use and creating a
rebellious daring image. Uncontrolled sales make it is even easier for
teenagers to buy marijuana than it is to buy alcohol.

i Prohibition itself sends the wrong message - that society is
hypocritical, and is more concerned with moral judgments than evidence
and fact. Supporting prohibition shows our society is unable to
make rational decisions based on scientific evidence and reasoned

i Prohibition leads to hard drugs: cannabis itself does not lead to the
use of hard drugs, but having dealers who sell both often does.

Cannabis prohibition prevents effective drug education and treatment:
Open and honest communication is impossible in an environment of guilt
and persecution. We need effective education about drugs so
that people can evaluate any risks and make responsible and informed

i The 1998 Drugs In New Zealand Survey found that of the four per cent
of cannabis users who wanted to seek help for their cannabis use but did
not, efear of the lawi was the main reason given.

Cannabis prohibition is expensive: 1997/1998 police annual expenditure
on cannabis offences was $21.1 million, doubled the amount spent in
1992/1993. Court and Prison costs are about the same again.
Drug education and treatment has been shown to be seven times more cost
effective, yet only $1.8 million is spent by the government on school
drug education, and there is
no funding at all for educating adults or current users. The Mental
Health Commission estimates funding for drug and alcohol treatment needs
to increase by $48 million to provide treatment for all who
need it. This is about the same amount the police and courts spend
enforcing cannabis prohibition.

Far more harm is caused by marijuana prohibition than by the use of
marijuana itself: New Zealand has the highest rate of cannabis arrests in
the world. In 1998/1999 there were 25,293 cannabis
offences, (6% of total reported crime). Most of these arrests were for
possession or use. Another twenty people every single day are made
criminals by this law.

i In 1998, 1794 school children were suspended for drug use - fifteen
per cent of all suspensions - and the only category where school
suspensions outweigh estand downsi, meaning that for every other
form of misbehaviour including assaults and weapons, schools give pupils
a second chance instead of curtailing their education.

i Prohibition creates divisions within communities, and alienation and
paranoia within many persecuted pot smokers.

i Marijuana itself does not cause crime, but violence and intimidation
regulate the illegal cannabis market. Cannabis is now worth so much money
that several people every year get killed over it.
Prohibition erodes respect for the police and our entire legal system.
The lucrative black market creates additional crime and violence in our
communities, while the police's emphasis on busting
cannabis users diverts their attention away from more serious crimes.

i Maori are greatly over represented for cannabis arrests and
suspensions, yet use cannabis at about the same rate as the general

Other policies are more effective: The last inquiry into the law was the
1972-3 Blake-Palmer Report that eventually led to the introduction of the
Misuse of Drugs Act. That report recommended
prohibition be continued ionly so long as it was seen to be largely

i The 1998 Health Select Committee Inquiry into the Mental Health
Effects of Cannabis unanimously recommended ithe Government review the
appropriateness of existing policy on cannabis and its use and
reconsider the legal status of cannabisi.

i The international trend is moving away from prohibition. Most of
Europe, plus Australia and Canada base their policies on harm reduction.
Even the United States has recently passed laws allowing
medical marijuana, while the latest US elections showed voters are
tiring of the War On Drugs.

i Ending cannabis prohibition in the Netherlands, Australia and the
United States has not led to increases in cannabis use, and has achieved
dramatic savings in law enforcement as well as improving
the effectiveness of drug education and treatment services.

i South Australian-style eInstant Finesi may just make it easier for the
police to bust more people, without doing anything about what really
concerns most people - branding cannabis users criminals,
the effects of the violent black market and uncontrolled access to
marijuana by minors.

i In the Netherlands where cannabis possession and use is not prosecuted
15 per cent of adults have used cannabis compared with 50 per cent in New
Zealand; 4.5 per cent are regular users compared with
16 per cent in New Zealand. Teenage cannabis use in the Netherlands is
dropping - a result of normalising cannabis use and limiting sales to
adults. Hard drug use in
the Netherlands has also dropped since they broke the black-market
connection between cannabis buyers and hard drug sellers.

i A regulated cannabis market would allow commercial cannabis revenues
to be taxed like any other legitimate business. Issuing licenses could
allow people who currently depend on cannabis incomes to
still grow and sell cannabis, but only as long as they pay their tax and
behave responsibly.

Internet Resources:

NORML NZ is working to reform our cannabis laws.
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party | Truth Freedom Justice
DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy
Home | NZ Drug Foundation - At the heart of the matter
Trimbos-instituut | Home
Davis Phinney Foundation | Live Well with Parkinson's TODAY.

National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, NZ Inc.

NZ Cannabis Inquiry submissions due by 7 Feb 2001

NORML NZ is working to reform our cannabis laws. mailto:norml@apc.org.nz
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