Pubdate: Sun, 07 May 2000
Source: Press, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2000 The Christchurch Press Company Ltd.
Contact:  Private Bag 4722, Christchurch, New Zealand
Fax: +64-3-364-8238
Author: Keith Ramsay


About 150 people gathered in Cathedral Square to support the relaxing
of cannabis laws in New Zealand.

The event was part of a international "J" day involving more than 100
cities internationally, including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch,
and Dunedin.

The campaign was estimated to attract more than one million people

Green Party co-leader Rod Donald and Labour MP for Christchurch
Central Tim Barnett spoke to Saturday's gathering organised by the
National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Mr Donald delivered a conservative message, advocating the right to
use the drug for personal use.

But he said the laws should protect minors in the same way that
alcohol laws did.

Anyone selling the drug to those under the age of 18 could not expect
any protection from the law.

He also urged marijuana users not to flout the laws by smoking in
public because that could fuel arguments against the reformation of
the laws.

He said for many, fears surrounded the reformation of the law, but
most of their fears were unfounded.

He likened it to the fears that were raised before the introduction of
the homosexual law reform bill.

"People were rightly concerned about the effects it could have had on
young people but none of their fears were realised."

Mr Barnett also supported the reformation of the law relating to
cannabis use. He said the law was wrong and must change.

"Many people would fight to stop the law change. They are wrong, but
there were genuine and difficult questions to be answered before most
MPs would agree to reform," he said.

They needed to know that using marijuana would not increase health
problems, that it would not make it easier for school children to get
hold of cannabis, and that organised crime would not be fed by the
sale of marijuana, if the law were changed.

He said the seeds of a public relations disaster was ever-present in
the campaign for cannabis law reform.

He urged supporters of the law reform to move carefully.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake