MPs fire up when Paula Bennett pulls out 14-gram baggie in Parliament

Debates have erupted in Parliament over the suggested 14-gram-a-day cannabis purchase limit proposed in the referendum.

The Opposition has employed a parliamentary stunt to argue the limit is far too much cannabis - yet others said it's hypocritical when there is no limit on alcohol purchases.

On Wednesday, National's Deputy Leader Paula Bennett brought a 14-gram bag of dried oregano to Parliament to illustrate how much weed people would be able to buy per day if it is legalised. 

The size of Bennett's baggie had some MPs losing their cool. 

MPs fire up when Paula Bennett pulls out 14-gram baggie in Parliament
Photo credit: Newshub

"I think it's far too much," Minister for Children Tracey Martin said.

It became apparent that many MPs are unsure how many joints 14 grams equates to.

"There's a lot of people in my electorate who would know exactly how many joints they can get out of 14 grams," Deputy Speaker Anne Tolley said.

"I've heard it's about 40-odd, it's huge... it's an enormous number," National MP Brett Hudson guessed.

"I don't know about selling 20 joints at once, that doesn't sound great," Labour MP Kiri Allen weighed in.

The minister responsible for the Bill says people won't be smoking 14 grams every day. 

"Find me somebody who has smoked 42 joints in a day and I'll take the objection seriously," Minister of Justice Andrew Little said.

"Find someone who buys a certain quantity and eeks it out over several days or a week or 10 days or two weeks. That's a more likely scenario."

"It doesn't mean they have to down it all in one sitting," Green MP Chloe Swarbrick said.

Otago University academic Joe Boden told Newshub that despite the potential harm of cannabis, legalisation would be a good move.

"If you legalise the substance you are able to regulate and control it. You are able to tax it and take the profits away from criminal organisations," he explained.

Gary Chiles is a drug reform advocate who wears his protest on his sleeve - he’s often seen sitting in the public gallery in a full suit covered in bright green cannabis leaves. He believes putting limits on cannabis purchases, as well as potency and home grown plants is hypocritical.

"We're being told what our daily limits are, how much we can produce, [yet] nobody is telling anyone how much beer they can buy from the supermarket," he stated.

Bennett's stunt is making a point - Kiwis voting in the referendum do need a concept of how much cannabis people will be able to buy. It's currently set at about half of Canada's limit. If there is kickback, that could change.

There still remains two big unknowns: how strong cannabis could be - and how much it would cost.

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