Law Commission report agrees: “Too Many Smokers to Arrest!”

Drug Law Reform organisation NORML finds some recognition from the Law Commission of its current slogan, “Too many smokers to arrest!”

“The Law Commission says 400,000 Kiwis use cannabis each year (14.7% of adults), which supports our campaign theme of “Too many smokers to arrest,” says NORML Acting President Phil Saxby.

The Law Commission argues for a “more holistic” approach to personal drug use, advocating more funding for treatment as a cheaper and more effective alternative to criminal proceedings. The Commission also proposes a formal cautioning scheme as fairer than current use of Police procedures. “With 400,000 cannabis users every year, and one of the world’s highest arrest rates for cannabis offences, it’s clear the Commission understands that prohibition policies are stretched to breaking point,” says Mr Saxby.

NORML says the Law Commission proposals for reform that are good in some areas, such as medicinal cannabis, but are very limited when dealing with the wider issues and dressed up as “tough on drugs” by advocating heavy penalties for commercial growing and dealing but more flexibility on personal use.

While the Law Commission’s report is positive about law reform it is overly constrained by its terms of reference which obliged the Commission to stay strictly within the “crumbling” international drug conventions, says NORML.

“The so-called “war on drugs” in New Zealand will never exact the toll in human life that is now does in Mexico (15,000 dead annually) but even here, the cost is too high and NZ needs better solutions than those offered by the international conventions, says NORML spokesperson Chris Fowlie.

Mr Fowlie says NORML wants to promote discussion over the next 7 months on drug law reform, to make it one of the hot topics of the election campaign. “We will challenge all candidates to say where they stand on the main recommendations of the Law Commission report.

more info: www.lawcom.govt.nz