Greens want full legalisation of cannabis use
The Green Party is pushing for the full legalisation of cannabis as part of an overhaul of New Zealand drug laws, they announced on Friday morning.
Their proposal would see medicinal cannabis regulated for the chronically ill, with eventual plans to allow the legalisation of personal use.
"Many New Zealander's recognise that creating criminals out of cannabis users does more harm than the occasional use of marijuana does", says health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.
Ms Genter says the party's policy has changed from simply calling for decriminalisation of the drug, to setting out more specific targets and frameworks that focus on medical marijuana, which she says are in line with the Law Commission's 2011 recommendations.
It remains to be seen whether the policy would be at the forefront of a Labour-Greens coalition government, or whether it will be a central policy for the party heading into what's likely to be a gruelling election campaign.
"We haven't yet determined what our policy priorities will be, that will be up to the party and will be all up for negotiation", says Ms Genter.
The Labour Party says it's on the same page when it comes to the regulation of medicinal cannabis, but that's not the case when it comes to legalising the drug for recreational use.
"In terms of legalisation and decriminalisation of marijuana, it is not an issue we are working on in terms of policy, we are dealing with the bread and butter issues that New Zealander's are concerned about", says health spokesperson Annette King.
Ms King would like to see a conscience vote held for any law changes that go further than medicinal regulation.
The New Zealand Drug Foundation believes based on their research that Kiwis are ready for a change to the misuse of drugs act, but acknowledges those tasked with making the changes aren't as willing.
"The public is ready for change, we're seeing that around the world and we're seeing it in New Zealand. Politicians aren't yet ready, but the public is" executive director Ross Bell told Newshub in a recent interview.