NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- August 13, 2003

  NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- August 13, 2003

Posted by CN Staff on August 14, 2003 at 11:51:44 PT
Weekly Press Release 
Source: NORML 

New Zealand Parliamentary Committee Recommends Liberalizing Nation's Marijuana Laws -- Says Moderate Adult Use Associated With Few Health RisksAugust 13, 2003 - Wellington, New ZealandWellington, New Zealand: Members of a select committee urged Parliament to give "high priority" to reclassifying cannabis so that minor offenders no longer face a criminal conviction, in a final report released last week by the House Health Committee. 
Their conclusions mark the end of a three-year inquiry by the committee to assess marijuana's health risks and determine an appropriate legal status for the drug."We recommend [that] the government ... give a high priority to its reconsideration of the reclassification of cannabis," authors of the report concluded. Authors also recommended first time marijuana users be diverted to drug treatment rather than face criminal sanctions.Marijuana arrests currently comprise an estimated 95 percent of all drug arrests in New Zealand, the report found. Marijuana possession is punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.Recently completed federal inquiries in Canada and the United Kingdom have similarly recommended the reclassification and/or decriminalization of marijuana. A 1998 review by the New Zealand Health Select Committee noted that "the negative mental health impacts of cannabis appear to have been overstated," and urged Parliament to review the existing law.Other findings by the 2003 committee include:Marijuana has not dramatically increased in potency. "There is no evidence of a significant general increase in cannabis potency over the past 25 years." (p. 14)Marijuana does not lead to delinquent behavior in young people. "Evidence suggests that cannabis use does not cause behavioral difficulties; instead it is frequently used by youth who are predisposed to deviant behavior." (p. 19)Marijuana does not induce violent behavior. "There is ... a debate over whether cannabis use produces violence. ... We understand that the most currently available research demonstrates that this relationship does not exist." (p. 19)Marijuana does not cause serious long-term cognitive deficits. "There is no evidence that there is irreversible brain damage from cannabis use. Long-term use does raise concerns about cognitive changes. ... However, research into residual cognitive changes after cessation of cannabis use has found only minor deficits or no difference between users and non-users." (p. 18)Marijuana does not cause schizophrenia. "There is no convincing evidence that cannabis causes schizophrenia." (p. 17)Marijuana does not cause psychosis. "[R]esearch does not appear to substantiate a link between cannabis use and psychosis." (p. 17)The complete report, entitled "An inquiry into the public health strategies related to cannabis use and the most appropriate legal status," is available online at: more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. A summary of previous federally commissioned reports is available at: Remembers Louis Lasagna: Noted Drug Researcher, Former NORML Board MemberAugust 13, 2003 - Boston, MA, USABoston, MA: Louis Lasagna, the so-called "Sigmund Freud of clinical pharmacology" and former dean of Tufts University's Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, died Thursday, August 7, of lymphoma. He was 80 years old.Lasagna was a pioneer in the field of drug evaluation and clinical pharmacology. He made history in 1954, publishing one of the first scientific papers documenting the "placebo effect" in patients. Decades later, the noted British medical journal, The Lancet, included Dr. Lasagna's article on a list of the world's 27 most notable medical achievements since the time of Hippocrates, about 400 BC.Lasagna led the crusade to amend the federal drug approval process by arguing that pharmaceuticals must undergo a randomized, placebo-controlled trial before being brought to market. The Food and Drug Administration adopted Lasagna's standard in 1962.Throughout his career, Lasagna encouraged physicians to develop empathy toward their patients. In 1964, he wrote an alternative to the Hippocratic oath, which states in part: "Above all, I must not play God. I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being." His revised version was subsequently adopted by medical schools throughout the world.In his later years, Dr. Lasagna became an outspoken advocate for marijuana law reform. Most notably, he chaired a 1982 study by the National Research Council that advocated decriminalizing marijuana possession. The study, entitled "An Analysis of Marijuana Policy," concluded, "On balance, ... a policy of partial prohibition is clearly preferable to a policy of complete prohibition of supply and use."In 1994, Dr. Lasagna joined the NORML board of directors, on which he served until shortly before his death.NORML expresses its sincere condolences to the friends and family of Louis Lasagna.DL: NORML Foundation (DC)Published: August 13, 2003Copyright: 2003 NORML Contact: norml Website:'s Weekly News Bulletin -- August 7, 2003's Weekly News Bulletin -- July 30, 2003's Weekly News Bulletin -- July 24, 2003

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Comment #2 posted by 13th step on August 15, 2003 at 08:45:24 PT
New Zealand
Nandor vs. Dunne:"Mr Tanczos says the comment was not a personal attack, but designed to highlight concerns about discriminatory policing raised in a health select committee report released last week. The report had found Maori more likely to be arrested and convicted for cannabis use than "middle-class Pakeha smokers, like Peter Dunne in his youth". Mr Dunne responded the next day to what he called Mr Tanczos' "shock-horror" revelations. "Fair's fair, Nandor. You got me. I have long since confessed to a youthful indiscretion ... Now let's have the same level of openness and honesty from you. Who's your dealer?" Mr Dunne said that given Mr Tanczos' long-standing disrespect for New Zealand, he did not expect the MP would answer the question. "Standing up against a prohibition that unfairly targets the minority is disrespectful to the establishment in power , not the country itself.Good luck, Nandor.
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Comment #1 posted by WolfgangWylde on August 14, 2003 at 15:39:34 PT
Well, that's great and all...
...but New Zealand politicians already said last week that no matter what the report ended up saying, there would be no change in the law. 
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