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News (Media Awareness Project) - New Zealand: Editorial: Take Weed Claim At Face Value
Title:New Zealand: Editorial: Take Weed Claim At Face Value
Published On:2011-08-08
Source:Wanganui Chronicle (New Zealand)
Fetched On:2011-08-11 06:01:43

The countdown to any general election often elicits behaviour one
wouldn't usually expect from those wanting us to entrust them with
running the country. But in the world of politics, sometimes it is a
case of anything goes in a vain attempt to raise their public profile.

It can be a tough balancing act between trying to gain a foothold by
earning some "street cred" and looking like a fool and losing
credibility as a serious candidate.

So, what to make then of Peter Dunne's admission he smoked

Dunne has been at pains to break down perceptions he is a somewhat
drab character, devoid of much in the way of personality. His
tongue-in-cheek video reply to criticisms of his hairstyle showed he
has a sense of humour. His television planking escapades showed an
appreciation for the ridiculous.

Should we consider this pot-smoking admission to be anything more than
a stunt designed to score a few extra votes? More importantly, given
his driving-through of legislation to ban synthetic cannabis, is Dunne
now to be seen by the pro-cannabis lobby as a hypocrite and his
admission used as ammunition to promote legalisation?

Unlikely. Dunne has, according to reports, always admitted his drug
use when questioned on the topic.

He also has steered clear of the dubious tactic employed by former US
president Bill Clinton, who argued he did not inhale.

Dunne has admitted smoking cannabis on only a few occasions, in the
1970s while a student.

Cannabis is a drug that is widely available and is something our
children will nearly all encounter as they grow up. A good number will
try it; many will never use it again, some may be occasional users,
and some may develop an addiction and all the problems that go with

While advocates for the decriminalisation of cannabis will use Dunne's
admission as further evidence that the drug should be removed from the
banned substance list, the authorities will no doubt have a different

Drug offending is a significant issue in New Zealand and cannabis is
prevalent in annual crime statistics. Wanganui is not immune, and a
significant proportion of total crime can be attributed at least in
part to cannabis.

Dunne's actions were an honest response to a specific question, and he
deserves credit for answering as he did. But we should not see his
admission as tacit approval of the drug and any consideration towards
decriminalisation would warrant investigation.
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