New Zealand Health Comm. Advocates Relaxing MJ Law

New Zealand Health Comm. Advocates Relaxing MJ Law
Posted by FoM on January 02, 1999 at 13:11:40 PT

 Wellington, New Zealand: A Parliamentary health committee recommends that government officials review the appropriateness of existing Marijuana policies after it determined that moderate use of the drug posed few health hazards. 
   "Based on the evidence we have heard in the course of this inquiry, the negative mental health impacts of cannabis appears to have been overstated, particularly in relation to occasional adult users of the drug," a committee spokesman said. "The weight of available evidence suggests that long-term heavy use of cannabis does not produce severe or gross impairment of cognitive function. ... Moderate use of the drug does not seem to harm the majority of people [who try it.]"   The ten-member health select committee examined evidence regarding marijuana's potential health effects for eight months before issuing its conclusions. In July, officials from the New Zealand Health Ministry testified before the committee that moderate marijuana use posed less of a public health risk than alcohol or tobacco.   Committee chairman Brian Neeson said he hoped parliament would reconsider the legal status of marijuana when it convenes in February. He voiced concern that the drug's illegality may dissuade some people from seeking treatment for marijuana-related problems.   Chris Fowlie, a spokesman for NORML New Zealand praised the committee's findings. "The Inquiry heard that many of the harms often associated with cannabis are actually created by its prohibition, while the actual harms presented by cannabis have been exaggerated," he said. "NORML [New Zealand] welcomes [these] recommendations to review the [federal] law and demands an immediate moratorium on arresting cannabis users."   The New Zealand government has three months to respond in writing to the health committee's recommendations. The inquiry is the first since 1973 to review federal marijuana policy.   For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation   (202) 483-8751. Additional information is also available online from NORML New Zealand at: or from the New Zealand Drug Forum at: 
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