MEDIA STATEMENT - 24 June 1999
250,000 CANNABIS USERS WON T GO AWAY, SAYS LEGALISE CANNABIS PARTY
Cannabis is now a hot issue and 250,000 cannabis users could swing the election, says the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis
Party on the eve of the party s conference to be held in Wellington this weekend.
The Party was reacting to the release yesterday of a survey by Auckland University s Alcohol and Public Health Research
Unit on drug use in New Zealand.
The survey of about 5000 people revealed that 15% in the age range 15-45 described themselves as current users of
cannabis. "This survey supports our view that about 12% of the voting-age population are under direct threat from
cannabis prohibition laws. It s a voting bloc that could change the balance of power in Parliament," says lawyer and
Party leader," Michael Appleby.
"The survey shows clearly that most users are light users, experiencing no health problems. Prohibition itself - the
penalty for getting caught - is their only problem", he says. Heavy users, who may experience problems and want to cut
down, are not getting it, according to the survey. Mr Appleby says this demonstrates the failure of criminalisation -
"cannabis is a health issue, not a police matter".
"We wouldn t attempt to cure alcohol problems by making alcohol illegal, and the same applies to cannabis" .
"Cannabis will be one of the burning issues of the election," says Michael Appleby. "Government Ministers like Clem
Simich, Sir Douglas Graham and Tuariki Delamere who see the need for a change of policy are increasingly outspoken. The
Health Select Committee called unanimously for a review of the legal status of cannabis. Labour is promising an inquiry
and the Greens are committed to change. Even the Police have now withdrawn their objections."
"Prohibitionist laws do not protect school students from exposure to cannabis - quite the opposite, as the Police would
admit. Prohibition policies are generally discredited here as in Australia. All this provides an opportunity for our
Party to successfully campaign against them," says Michael Appleby.
The Party leader pointed out that if all cannabis users voted in favour of their own civil rights, "Our party could win
14 seats or more in Parliament".
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