Pubdate: Sat, 20 Feb 2010
Source: Nelson Mail, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2010 Fairfax New Zealand Limited
Author: Robert Sharpe


Sir, Re. your editorial "Closed minds on cannabis reform" (Nelson
Mail, February 15), Justice Minister Simon Power needs to consider the
difference between condoning cannabis use and protecting children from

Decriminalisation acknowledges the social reality of cannabis, and
frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records.
What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as
cannabis distribution remains in the hands of organised crime,
consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard
drugs like heroin. This "gateway" is the direct result of cannabis

Given that cannabis is arguably safer than legal alcohol - the plant
has never been shown to cause an overdose death - it makes no sense to
waste tax revenue on failed policies that finance organised crime and
facilitate the use of hard drugs. Drug policy reform may send the
wrong message to children, but I like to think the children are more
important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, Mpa

Policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy,

Washington DC, February 18.
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