Government Rejects Decriminalising Cannabis!  

Government Rejects Decriminalising Cannabis!  
Posted by FoM on March 09, 1999 at 06:15:02 PT

  The Government has rejected a call by back-bench MPs to consider decriminalising cannabis, saying that to make the drug legal would send confusing messages to young people. Late last year the Health Select Committee suggested that the legal status of cannabis -- at present a class C drug -- be reviewed as the ban had little impact on drug-taking.
However, in a formal response, the Government has rejected this. That response came as the Government unveiled a package of legal and educational measures to crack down on hard drugs and limit the damage of cannabis abuse. The Government has made drug policy a key social policy theme, leading critics to claim it is playing election-year politics. "As a young nation we can't afford to let the effects of illicit drugs damage the lives of young New Zealanders," said Health Minister Wyatt Creech. Decriminalising cannabis would send a confusing signal about drugs to young people, he said. The action plan unveiled yesterday contained a mix of punitive and educational measures, but will not cost more than the $200 million now spent on tackling misuse. On the punitive side, supplying drug paraphernalia, such as cannabis pipes and "bongs", will be banned. In Christchurch a pilot project will identify doctors inappropriately prescribing controlled drugs. The National Drug Policy action plan suggested that a big proportion of the illicit drugs on the market came from prescriptions. The project would allow the Health Ministry to issue warnings or prosecute inappropriate prescribers. Action-plan strategies also include greater research on drug-taking, especially the high cannabis use in the Far North and the East Cape, and reviews of drug education in schools. More co-ordination of drug enforcement has been called for, including a review of drug-testing and treatment programmes in prisons. Last week the Government announced that the dance-party drug ecstasy was to be made a class A drug, alongside LSD, heroin, and cocaine.
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