Pubdate: Thu, 10 Aug 2000
Source: Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: Allied Press Limited, 2000
Author: Duncan Eddy


IF CANNABIS ABUSE is such a serious problem in New Zealand, I wonder why 
National MP Nick Smith continues to publicly criticise the current 
Government's intention to deal with the problem adequately. The high rate 
of cannabis use among New Zealand's adults and schoolchildren is proof that 
prohibition doesn't prevent people from smoking pot. As well as failing to 
curtail cannabis use, prohibition increases the harms caused by cannabis by 
preventing adequate education and treatment. Even ardent anti-cannabis 
campaigner Jim Anderton accepts this fact.

It should be recognised that the attempts by the National Party to block 
cannabis law reform are pure political manipulation. The 1998 Health 
Committee Report into the mental health effects of cannabis, chaired by 
National's Brian Neeson, highlighted the serious harms of prohibition and 
recommended a well overdue legislative overhaul to minimise the human 
rights violations of prohibition and minimise the harm incurred through 
cannabis abuse. But, of course, it would be naive to expect honesty or 
common sense from politicians, wouldn't it?

Duncan Eddy


[Abridged. - Ed.]