INDEPENDENT NEWS

Free'd billioniare reveals arbitrary injustice

Published: Mon 10 Jan 2000 09:33 AM
PRESS RELEASE to all media 9/1/2000
Free'd billioniare reveals arbitrary injustice
Cannabis law reformers have mixed feelings over the recent "non-criminal" importation of marijuana and hashish by an American billioniare.
Legalise Cannabis Party leader, Michael Appleby said today that the discharging of the case shows a softening of attitudes towards cannabis, and "was a precedent entirely in line with current government proposals to decriminalise".
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party members say the incident highlights the need for the Government to admit that the law is in disrepute, and stop victimising people unjustly. Members say there is no justice when the rich walk free, where the poor would be jailed.
Cannabis party analysts commended Green MP Nandor Tanzcos, who said on TV3 news last night that the incident "demonstrated hypocrisy that is commonplace because of prohibition."
The analysts say cannabis law is rotten to the core. "Whether people get punished or let off, the administration take a cut, while the social fabric suffers the consequences of people alienated from rule of law".
Blair Anderson, cannabis party strategist of Christchurch, expressed annoyance "that it takes the discharge of a wealthy American to raise consciousness on the legal status, when thousands are being busted domestically every week". Where's "truth in sentencing" now? he said.
"It appears there is something of an old boys network running the show", said ALCP #3 Kevin O'Connell- "and plenty of them are quietly sitting on the gravy train, as judges, lawyers, prison builders, bureaucrats, politicians, drug preventionists and police."
A recent report showing, for example, that many young people were herded through New Zealand courts without even knowing there is a duty solicitor there to assist them, showed how self-serving the system had become. And in reference to the related anomaly of police "perfing" (police early retirement fund), the cannabis party analysts added that "overstressed" officers have been "taking the flak because they've been taking the dak."
On the pretext of cannabis use being a crime, the New Zealand administration has evidently been filling its pockets, disrespectful to our own people. Ministerial answers from the last government reveal outrageous arrest rates and disproportionate punishment of Maori and unemployed, "and the powers that be have pretended an inability to add it up", say the analysts.
Justice Minister Phil Goff has ordered a report into inconsistency of penalties, and it is expected that such an investigation will confirm that there are indeed obvious shortfalls in the area of cannabis "justice". Such a document will be highly relevant to the law review panel, say cannabis party analysts, because the Bill of Rights Act, 1990 prohibits arbitrary punishment.
The conclusion of the law review can't happen soon enough. "Given election promises, and the latest scandal, there is absolutely no excuse for delay", say the ALCP.
K.P. O'Connell, B J Anderson, ph (03) 389 4065
Blair Anderson mailto:blair@technologist.com
Electorate Strategist, Christchurch Branch, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
Media Center - phone ++64 3 389-4065 Web site http://www.alcp.org.nz
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It is time within drug policy, to set aside moral cowardice, and adopt harm minimisation; it is the stuff of social capital.
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