Newsbrief: Marijuana Reform Stalled in New Zealand 8/8/03

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The New Zealand Labor government is blocking any consideration of marijuana law reform, according to New Zealand Wire. Although the long awaited parliamentary health committee report on marijuana's effects came out Wednesday, Justice Minister Phil Goff didn't bother to wait for the report before assuring the United Future Party, Labor's partner in the coalition government, that marijuana reform was not on the agenda.

While the New Zealand Green Party, with Member of Parliament Nandor Tanczos leading the charge, had hoped to move toward marijuana decriminalization, Labor's post-election alliance with the conservative United Future has most likely dealt those hopes a death blow. "We need to treat personal use of cannabis as a health issue, not a crime," Tanczos told the Wire. "We need to control cannabis in an effective way. When you look at the evidence it is clear that the current prohibition does not reduce cannabis abuse, does not limit underage use, and by criminalising moderate adult users it creates significant problems of its own."

But Justice Minister Goff was having none of that. "I can categorically rule out any change to the status of cannabis," Goff replied in response to a parliamentary inquiry. The government would carefully consider the commission's report he said, but would not entertain the possibility of decriminalization.

A Labor member of parliament could break ranks and introduce a decrim bill, said Goff, but the government would not support it.

Visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/258/nandortanczos.shtml to read DRCNet's interview with Nandor Tanczos, October 2002.

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