School sign says To Legalise is to Normalise


A digital sign displayed on a school board outside St Paul’s College in Ponsonby in Auckland reads: “To legalise is to normalise. Say no.”

“Isn’t it illegal for a high school to push political opinions on students?” a Reddit user posted in the forum.

According to Education Ministry guidance, boards of trustees as a state agency need to be politically neutral.

They cannot encourage electors to vote or not vote for specific parties, policies or candidates or show political party information on school sites.

But Katrina Casey of the Ministry of Education said the cannabis referendum is an important social issue and “people are free to express their views about it.”

She said if the school’s parent community had any concerns about the sign, they should contact the school’s board of trustees.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson stated they have received an enquiry about the sign and are in the process of contacting the school for more information.

“The election and referendum laws allow any person to publish an election or referendum advertisement as long as they comply with the rules, for example, on promoter statements and expenditure limits.”

In Rotorua Patrick Walsh, principal of John Paul College is among community leaders who have signed up to a new alliance of people who will work to oppose any attempt to legalise cannabis in New Zealand.

The coalition is urging people to say no to the referendum.

Walsh said he had seen “first-hand the devastating effect of drug use on teenagers, their whanau and other victims.”

In their statement before the 2017 general election, the New Zealand Catholic bishops stated that “moves to legalise ‘soft’ drugs and other substances – which wreak havoc in particular sectors of our society – are a deeply cynical and cheap way of side-lining a complex social ill that needs to be addressed creatively and resolutely.”



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