Pubdate: Tue, 05 Jun 2001
Source: Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: Allied Press Limited, 2001
Author: Duncan Eddy


WHILE IT'S heartening to see the health select committee inquiry into 
cannabis policy is finally under way, your coverage of the inquiry ( ODT , 
26.5.01) was potentially misleading. Contrary to your article, partial 
decriminalisation will not be the main legislative option under 
consideration by the select committee. The aim of this inquiry isn't simply 
to find a policy to replace the problem-ridden prohibition, but to find a 
policy which best reduces the harms associated with cannabis use.

The instant fines system fails to solve many of the glaring problems 
inherent in the current policy. Ironically, South Australia's partial 
decriminalisation has resulted in more criminal convictions being issued to 
cannabis smokers from lower socio-economic backgrounds than ever before.

Considering that the unnecessary criminalisation of cannabis users is the 
greatest harm associated with cannabis use, partial decriminalisation is an 
unsatisfying option.

This inquiry offers New Zealanders the opportunity to benefit from a 
cannabis policy which is both fair and workable. It would be unfortunate if 
the end result was merely the replacement of one flawed policy with 
another. The cannabis law reform debate will not go away until a reasonable 
policy is put in place. The partial decriminalisation of cannabis quite 
simply doesn't cut the mustard.

Duncan Eddy

City Rise