Cannabis advocate's impressive justification for legalisation

A cannabis advocate has impressed Duncan Garner with her justification for legalising recreational cannabis in New Zealand. 

The first New Zealand cannabis referendum conference is being held in Wellington on Friday where MPs and cannabis advocates will discuss the upcoming vote on legalisation. 

The Green Party was promised a referendum on legalising recreational cannabis at or by the 2020 election as part of their coalition agreement with Labour. And cannabis advocate Rebecca Reider says it's about time. 

When the Government holds the cannabis referendum, the results need to be binding, Ms Reider says, telling The AM Show Labour is yet to come out strong about the issue. She said the party needs to "be brave now and actually give us the chance to decide". 

When asked by The AM Show host Garner why recreational cannabis should be legalised, Ms Reider flipped his question to ask, why shouldn't it be legal? Her response impressed Garner so much that he said it should go viral on social media. 

"It's only been illegal for less than a century, it's been part of human history for thousands of years, and the harms from it being illegal are way greater than anything that could happen from legalisation," Ms Reider told Garner on Friday.

"According to the Treasury, we're spending over $400 million a year on policing people for cannabis and the Drug Foundation just released a report saying we're missing out on over $200 million a year in possible tax revenue from legalising it.

"And it's not that harmful a substance. If you look at harms associated with it, they're lower than the effects of alcohol," she added. 

"Prohibition doesn't work, people already have cannabis, the problem is that the quality's not controlled, it can be contaminated, it's sold on the black market by criminals, and people are going to prison over it."

Ms Reider is all too familiar with the latter. In 2016, she was charged with importing medicinal cannabis products into New Zealand and five other charges related to possession. 

In 2015, Customs intercepted legally manufactured medicinal cannabis chocolate bars that the California-native had posted to herself from the United States. She was eventually discharged without conviction in Nelson District Court. 

"I was prosecuted and threatened with up to nine-and-a-half years in prison for medicating myself with cannabis products for a chronic pain condition," she told The AM Show. 

"The farther down the rabbit hold I got with that case and the outcomes for it, I realised cannabis should be legal for everybody."

Her comments come after some US states voted on cannabis legalisation in the midterm elections held on Wednesday. Utah has voted to allow medicinal cannabis, while Michigan has voted to allow recreational use for people 21 years and older. 

However, North Dakota voted against legalising recreational cannabis, with 59.9 percent of people voting against the suggested change. 

The US states which already allow recreational use of marijuana include Colorado, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands. 

There is strong support for legalising cannabis in New Zealand, although people are split about how the Government should go about it.