INDEPENDENT NEWS

ALCP: Health policy under scrutiny

Published: Sun 7 Nov 1999 12:16 AM
Recent information from NORML New Zealand about the persecution of cannabis smokers in New Zealand is in direct conflict with police statements that they are not targeting cannabis smokers.
With a higher rate of arrests for cannabis 'offences' (85% of which are for possession) than the United States, New Zealand has a worse record for persecuting cannabis users than the notoriously paranoid US. The cost of this in both human and financial terms is vast.
New Zealand prosecutes 109,000 cannabis 'offences' per year at a huge cost to the taxpayer, while new home invasion legislation cannot be implemented because of lack of police numbers and resources and Labour is struggling to implement zero tolerance of burglary.
Caleb Armstrong, health spokesperson for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, says that people's health is suffering because of an irrational allocation of resources to criminalising a drug that is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. "Current policy costs a lot of money, but it does nothing to discourage the use of cannabis in our community. In the mean time, I see people every day who are seriously disadvantaged by deficiencies in healthcare availability, such as 3-year waiting lists for surgery" Armstrong commented today.
"The case of inadequate provision of psychiatric services has been highlighted recently by cases such as Johnny Manu's slaying of an ACC worker". The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party believes that the problem of cannabis prohibition affects all New Zealander's by creating unwarranted suspicion and paranoia.
"The moral panic whipped up by media serves us all badly.. Cannabis. like other drugs of misuse and abuse are best handled by a rational health intervention" he says.
"We are encouraging New Zealanders who are concerned about issues such as health, education and violent crime to support us on election day" Armstrong said. "The Government have to stop fiddling while Rome burns".
Contact ALCP spokersperson on Health - Caleb Armstrong (09) 309-5899

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