More education about cannabis needed, speakers tell Timaru

By August 4, 2020 Recent News

Stuff 4 August 2020
Our additional comment: “Aaron Ironside could not see how any new law which allowed a person to grow only two plants could be policed. Using statistics from other countries that had legalised the drug showed how usage and access by those under age had increased, he said. When it came to a business model addicts were the best customers, he said. “The reality of commercialisation is the total market grows. The black market and the legal market go into competition with each other.”

New Zealand laws on cannabis use are not working, a public forum in Timaru on the Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill was told on Monday.

The forum’s five invited speakers were all in favour of decriminalisation and more education about the drug but disagreed on whether the bill was the way to do it as the country shapes to vote in a referendum on the issue on September 19.

The panellists, from a variety of backgrounds and opinions, put their views to more than 80 members of the public at the Gleniti Baptist Church event organised by the Timaru Christian Ministers’ Association to generate discussion ahead of the referendum.

Two panellists – research and policy consultant Dr Geoff Noller and Make it Legal NZ’s Mike Smith – were in favour and three – youth worker James Coyle, counsellor Aaron Ironside and registrar of rural hospital medicine Dr Natalie Cadzow – were against the bill.

Dr Noller said education had been stymied because it was illegal and it had also been hard to research it for the same reason. There were about 600,000 users in the country, he said.

The law as it stands was not a deterrent to usage with 95 per cent of those convicted continuing to use, Smith said, pointing out the bill, if implemented, could save $180 million in police resources.

“Those that disregard legalities are the most vulnerable,” Smith said.

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