New Zealand: In Pragmatic Retreat, Nandor Tanczos Introduces Marijuana Decriminalization Bill 7/22/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!


http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/396/tanczos.shtml

In a retreat from the New Zealand Green Party's formal position that marijuana should be legalized, Member of Parliament (MP) Nandor Tanczos Tuesday introduced a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of the herb. Under the proposal, those caught with small amounts would no longer be arrested and burdened with a criminal record, but would instead by ticketed and fined. But with every other major party quick to condemn the bill, even this half-way measure appears doomed from the get-go.

Nandor Tanczos
"The new private member's bill I am launching today aims to remove the central injustice of cannabis prohibition while meeting many people's concerns that its use should be discouraged," said Tanczos in a statement announcing the bill. "This bill is an attempt to find a workable solution that addresses the concerns of most people. Most New Zealanders recognize that a criminal record for the personal use of cannabis is a disproportionate punishment, but many still want to retain a message that cannabis use is to be discouraged, particularly by young people. This bill meets both of those objectives."

Under the bill, adults with up to an ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish would be hit with $100 New Zealand fine, currently equivalent to about $67 US. People growing up to five plants at home would face the same fine. But current penalties for possession of more than an ounce, sale of any amount, and growing more than five plants would remain in place. And in concessions to the "concerns" Tanczos alluded to above, his bill has new provisions mandating drug education for teenagers ticketed for possession and a five-fold increase in the fines for anyone caught smoking or growing within 100 meters of a school or other area used primarily by children.

"There is widespread agreement across the political divide and throughout the community about the problems of prohibition," Nandor said. "I have spoken to people all over New Zealand about their concerns and I have listened to them. Some politicians want to polarize the debate for their own political ends. The Greens are looking for consensus around points of agreement. This is mainstream stuff."

Not for the governing Labor Party it isn't. "Labor is against legalizing marijuana," said Justice Minister Phil Goff in a statement responding to the Tanczos bill. "Labor Party policy does not include support for legalizing marijuana and it does not support taking any action that might promote its use. The Labor government has not introduced, and will not introduce, legislation to legalize it."

Police often don't charge small-time offenders, anyway, said Goff. "The police already have discretion not to bring charges for possession of small amounts of marijuana and use that discretion frequently."

The Progressive Party, which takes a strong anti-drug stance and is part of Labor's governing coalition, also denounced the Tanczos bill. "All serious parties have issued a statement to reject the Greens' latest attempt to trivialize the known negative health effects of cannabis on vulnerable people in our society, especially still-developing young teenagers," said party leader Jim Anderton. "There is plenty of medical and scientific data that points to cannabis being a serious health threat, particularly for some vulnerable people. Given that body of evidence, there is no reason to downgrade sanctions against cannabis unless or until an overwhelming consensus emerges in the health and medical world that cannabis is not a health risk," he said.

The Greens would like to replace the Progressives in a governing partnership with Labor after the next election, and the decrim bill will be a subject of discussion then, said Tanczos. "This very moderate step will be on the table in any post-election negotiations between the Greens and Labor.

Tanczos was recently demoted from fourth place on the Greens' election list to seventh, and there has been speculation his forthright stand for marijuana legalization made some party members uncomfortable, the New Zealand Herald reported. The decrim bill could be part of an attempt by Tanczos and the Greens to broaden the party's appeal, even though it marks something of a retreat for the party. "It doesn't go as far as I would personally like," Tanczos admitted, "but it deals to the greatest problem, which is the criminalization of huge numbers of New Zealanders."

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #396 -- 7/22/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

Feature: Congressman Sensenbrenner Making Name as Drug War Extremist | Medical Marijuana: Steve McWilliams Remembered at Tuesday Vigils | DRCNet Interview: Cher Ford-McCullough and Jean Marlowe of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform | DRCNet Book Review: "An Analytic Assessment of US Drug Policy," by David Boyum and Peter Reuter | Medical Marijuana: California Reinstates ID Card Program | Medical Marijuana: Nearly a Thousand Rally in Santa Cruz | Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | New Zealand: In Pragmatic Retreat, Nandor Tanczos Introduces Marijuana Decriminalization Bill | Europe: Magic Mushrooms Now Illegal in Great Britain | Asia: Philippines Man Gets 15 Years for Two Joints | Coerced Treatment: Pennsylvania Legal Challenge Threatens Drug Courts, Judge Complains | Web Scan: NOW Resolution, American Chronicle, NYT Editorial on Richard Paey, NORML Report, APHA/DPA Oregon Amicus | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]