Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick says New Zealand should decriminalise cannabis after US pardons marijuana offences

  • 08/10/2022

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick says New Zealand needs to follow in the US' footsteps and entrench cannabis decriminalisation in law.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden took executive action to change US policy on marijuana - pardoning all prior offences of simple cannabis possession.

Since 1980, more than 120,000 Kiwis have been convicted of cannabis possession and/or use. In the past two years alone, that number's close to 5000. 

Swarbrick told Rebecca Wright on Newshub Nation the high number of New Zealanders with convictions for a drug 80 percent of Kiwis will use by the time they're out of their teenage years is an indication of how "broken" this law is.

She said despite the 2020 New Zealand cannabis referendum failing, it doesn't need to take away broader drug law reform.

"What we need is a law that says, 'This is the baseline approach that we're going to take to all cannabis offences, to all drug offences, and particularly to possession.' Because right now, who is benefiting from criminal prosecution of those with simple drug offenses?" 

Swarbrick said there are two ways the New Zealand Government could go about decriminalising cannabis - one being a royal prerogative and the other being an Act of Parliament.

"We have a sovereign Parliament that is able to pass any legislation that it wants to and regularly does," Swarbrick said.

She said New Zealand should entrench cannabis decriminalisation in law.

Watch the full interview above.