Pubdate: Mon, 08 May 2000
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2000 New Zealand Herald
Page: A22 (back page, with photos)
Contact:  PO Box 32, Auckland, New Zealand
Fax: (09) 373-6421
Author: Josie Clarke


The country's best-known cannabis law reform campaigner told teenagers
they should not even consider using the drug until they were at least
18 years old.

But Nandor Tanczos' advice was ignored by hundreds of people aged
under 18 who openly smoked cannabis at a Saturday protest organised by
the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The Green Party MP and drug law reform spokesman spoke to a
predominantly teenage crowd at International J-Day, a six-hour protest
against cannabis prohibition, held at Albert Park, central Auckland,
on Saturday.

He outlined his preferred policy on decriminalising cannabis - that
adults should have the right to grow five plants each a year and carry
an ounce in public for their own use without penalty.

Cannabis use should be illegal for under-18s and drivers, in line with
alcohol regulations, and smoking cannabis should also be illegal in
smoke-free areas, he said.

He worried that increasing numbers of young people were using
cannabis, and told the crowd he discouraged anyone under 18 from
experimenting with the drug.

"It's not totally harmless but it's clearly less dangerous than

He said cannabis law reform aimed to stop "marginalisation" of
ordinary people.

"It's about responsible people who would rather smoke cannabis than
drink alcohol on Saturday night."

Afterwards, one 16-year-old in the crowd said more than half of her
friends had smoked marijuana. A law restricting use to people aged 18
and over would have little effect, although Mr Tanczos was a
responsible role model.

"It's not going to help. Teenagers want to try it out as soon as they
can," she said.

Norml spokesman Chris Fowlie said problems associated with marijuana
were almost non-existent, despite its widespread use.

"For the average marijuana user, the greatest problems are caused not
by marijuana use but by the law."

Last month, secondary school principals spoke out against Education
Minister Trevor Mallard, who said he supported partial
decriminalisation of cannabis.

Principals said cannabis use left children red-eyed and drowsy, with
slurred speech, an inability to concentrate and little interest in
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