Article Title:Tim Barnett promoting visit by legal-drugs advocate
Category:New Zealand Daily News
Author or News Staff
Published on:15th December 2003 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:2171
Text:Labour MP Tim Barnett is helping promote the visit of an American drug reform advocate who believes in legalising all drugs - including P - as part of the way to fight them, reports the NZ Herald. In a notice to media on Barnett's letterhead, Clifford Thornton is described as America's foremost "anti-drug war African American activist". He advocates legalisation and administration of drugs by health professionals. Mr Barnett said he thought it important that there was more than one view on the drug law reform debate and denied that helping promote the visit was flying in the face of Government drug policy. "Every time we make a decision in areas like this we need to look at what the alternatives might be," he said. "What people would be interested in is whether he's offering a new way forward. Labelling him as someone who supports this or that is actually not going to get people very far." The gay MP has not shied away from attaching himself to controversial legislation. A week after the passing of the Prostitution Law Reform bill in June, which Barnett helped sponsor, he spoke in the Herald about wanting to attack drug laws next. "I don't want to frighten my colleagues too much, but the next challenge really is about drug policy,” he said at the time. “What I know is the current law in terms of drugs does exactly what the prostitution law has done until now, which is to drive people who are vulnerable anyway into more harm." Barnett's stand on controversial issues and his homosexuality is often linked by conservative and religious factions. The lobby group Catholic Action tried to get him ejected as chairman of the select committee considering changes to the Matrimonial Property Act in 2001, and Destiny Church pastor Brian Tamaki earlier this year labelled him an embodiment of the homosexual “spirit of perversion” that was leading the charge to reform society backwards.    
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