Pubdate: Sat, 21 Apr 2007
Source: Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 Allied Press Limited
Author: Jason Baker-Sherman


Congratulations regarding your excellent editorial "Revising drugs
policy" (ODT, 21.3.07). While most of its argument was commendable, I
did, however, take exception to its conclusion that "even the most
superficial study of court and prison statistics will show that the
majority of drug user and abusers are from what we commonly describe
as underprivileged and minority groups; their addiction is driven by
poverty, ignorance, fear and criminal activity, and it leads to the
undermining of respect for the law and the undermining of whole

While many of the prison population do have drug problems, drug use
and abuse of both licit and illicit drugs is widespread throughout the
whole community. Alcohol abuse is by far the biggest drug problem
facing New Zealand, whereas most of the harm from illegal drug use is
caused by their prohibition. A person can be the perfect parent,
employee and citizen but should they enjoy smoking cannabis, or even
simply believe in its legalisation, then they will be treated as a
criminal and become another underclass outcast should the greater
community find out. When a person uses cannabis, they not only break
the law, they also give up many of their rights such as, soon, the
right to drive, if the Government has its way. And, ironically, they
become society's scapegoat too.

I did, however, appreciate the editorial's reference to the
anti-smacking Bill as I have enjoyed hearing "ordinary" New Zealanders
complain about potentially being turned into criminals for hitting
their children. Maybe now they will better appreciate how the cannabis
criminal feels.

Jason Baker-Sherman

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