MPs in hysterics as Winston Peters displays weed meme of 'expert' Paula Bennett

Parliament erupted in laughter as Winston Peters displayed a meme of Paula Bennett showing two images made to look like she'd consumed a huge bag of cannabis. 

It began when Bennett, deputy leader of the National Party, questioned the Prime Minister in Parliament about why draft legislation on legalising recreational cannabis included a purchasing limit of 14 grams. 

Peters, the Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader, responded on behalf of the Prime Minister, by holding up a print out of a meme that had circulated on social media. 

The meme - which has more than 2000 likes - was created after Bennett held up a zip lock bag in Parliament on Wednesday containing a substance that looked like cannabis - it was in fact just oregano. 

Bennett displayed the bag in Parliament to represent 14 grams of cannabis, representing how much New Zealanders would be able to legally purchase at a time if it's legalised after the 2020 referendum. 

It wasn't long before the meme was created, with that image displayed next to another image of Bennett holding up a large bag of cannabis during a research trip she did to Canada

Sanjay Patel captioned the meme: "Shit, she went through it quite quickly."

Holding up the print-out, Peters said: "Well, actually, I've got to say I have an example of the kind of amounts that are in other countries," which was met with laughter and hooting from MPs. 

"In this case, it's very hard to tell the difference between the dope and weed," Peters added. "Ms Bennett is a world-class expert on that and I do defer to her knowledge and experience."

Bennett told Peters: "If the minister would like a picture of me for his wall he can just let me know."

Peters responded by suggesting Bennett spends too much time in front of a mirror.

"On the question of the picture on the wall, it's very hard to get a photograph when you're spending all your time - as that member does - in front of a full-length mirror."

The comment reignited laughter in the House. 

House Speaker Trevor Mallard could be heard sighing, saying: "Oh dear."

The draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill proposes a minimum purchase age of 20, a ban on marketing and advertising cannabis products, and limiting the sale of recreational cannabis to physical stores.

It also says anyone aged 20 years or older may grow up to two cannabis plants. If two people aged 20 years or older are part of the same household, the property can have up to four plants. 

But there is no mention of whether you'd be allowed to grow cannabis plants if you're living in a rental property, and Bennett told Peters New Zealanders should have confirmation before they vote. 

Peters said it's yet to be decided on. He then reflected on how Bennett's questions reminded him of "that flower-power hippy era". 

The Speaker said he'd allow the comment because, "It's an historic reference", and joked, "Some of us can remember". 

Peters then took a more serious note, reminding Bennett that she is part of a cross-party consortium on drug law reform, and suggested she raise those questions during the next session. 

"Here's the real essence of the answer that this member's got to grasp: we believe in democracy, we believe in asking the people of this country," Peters said.

"That member is on the cross-party committee and she should make submissions on that matter, and I hope with all her wealth of experience on this particular subject... we can advance the outcome and come to a conclusion."

The Speaker issued a warning to Peters to "be very careful about what can be inferred" from his comments.

Massey University Associate Professor Chris Wilkins says there are important parts of the legislation that are yet to be developed, including the size of the tax, production standards, and the testing regime.

"It is disappointing there is not more on social equity including expungement for past cannabis offences," he said. 

"There are real questions about whether plant limits can realistically be enforced and who will do it, police or public health officials. Police may assign this a pretty low priority in a legal market context."

You can read about the draft legislation here