Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Sunday, April 22, 2007

How Social Structures Affect Young People (Churches Youth Ministries Studies)

How Social Structures Affect Young People (Churches Youth Ministries Studies)

Goal: To understand the social issues and political processes that affect young people.

1) Read the article titled "Binge Drinking, Youth Suicide Linked to Drug Policy" on page 12 of your resource material.

Write two pages in response to this article
Include in your response:

a) your opinion on the links between cannabis prohibition and suicide

b) Your opinion on the impact of lowering the drinking age.

How you might engage in conversation about these issues with a youth group of 15-17 year olds
PRESS RELEASE - 20 April 1999:
"Binge Drinking, Youth Suicide Linked to Drug Policy"

A Parliamentary Select Committee looking at lowering the Drinking Age has been told by the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party that youth problems such as New Zealand's abnormally high teen binge drinking and youth suicide rates are intrinsically linked to cannabis prohibition. The Justice and Law Reform Committee was recently in Christchurch to hear submissions on contentious Sale of Liquor legislation.

Blair Anderson, ALCP deputy leader, and Kevin O'Connell, policy analyst, told MP's that "youth risk behaviours such as teen pregnancies and cannabis abuse were all part of the holistic picture that the Select Committee must assess before it can recommend lowering the drinking age".

Under the Government's National Drug Policy, heavily criticised in the ALCP's [3500 word] written submission, NZ's two most popular intoxicants are treated under completely separate criteria. The drug policy began in 1995 under then Health Minister Jenny Shipley as an integrated document. However the policy was split in 1996 and now alcohol is promoted on TV while the Police Minister has supplied data showing over 100,000 cannabis charges are laid every year.

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) says reforming Government's cannabis prohibition is the key to solving the youth suicide, youth drinking and youth cannabis problems.

Last year's Health Select Committee Inquiry found that the cannabis double standard is an impediment to effective anti drug-education amongst the youth demographic, and recommended a review of cannabis law. The ALCP argue that Government rejection of this recommendation has been made on completely invalid grounds.

This outrageous situation is a betrayal of the people of NZ say the Party. "There is no scientific credibility in the National Drug Double Standard, and it is little wonder the youth of NZ have switched off to the hypocritical messages of politicians", said Mr Anderson, echoing Associate Health Minister Tuariki Delemare's famous speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Drugs, (June 10 1998). Around 70% of NZ's youth population are using or have tried cannabis.

The ALCP representatives sought an undertaking that Parliament further investigate the cannabis issue, to which the chairperson said the Committee's discussion was on the legislation before it on liquor law reform. The Committee, chaired by ACT's Patricia Schnauer, accepted however that consideration of wider drug issues and barriers to effective health promotion highlighted by a fellow Committee "was indeed relevant to the discussion on liquor reform".

In answer to a question from National's Wayne Mapp, Mr. O'Connell pointed to Holland where youth are supported, decriminalised cannabis usage is less than New Zealand's, and the youth suicide rate is less than one fifth of ours. "Despite a recognition in our National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy for the need to value youth, the majority of teenagers are currently labelled criminals under cannabis legislation," he said. The Party's submission implies that in holistic terms, if we are looking for a reason for our bewildering youth suicide rate, the government's inappropriate and ill-justified cannabis policy is responsible.

The Justice and Law Reform Committee are considering the possibility that a systematic and honest approach to youth-drug issues may be the key to implementing genuine Harm Reduction of alcohol use (which the Liquor Bill specifically addresses), and other problematic youth behaviours.

Members from political parties present on the Committee, including ACT, Labour, Alliance and NZ First, thanked Mrs Anderson and O'Connell for their useful contribution.
Blair Anderson - Deputy Leader (03) 389 4065, Brandon Hutchison - Secretary (03) 364-2868 (025) 492 990
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