Mana supports decriminalising marijuana

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 11:18 03/07/2014
Hone Harawira
HONE HARAWIRA: The Mana Party will soften its stance on marijuana despite leader Hone Harawira's staunch opposition to the drug.

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The Mana Party is softening its stance on marijuana and will support its decriminalisation, in spite of leader Hone Harawira's staunch opposition to the drug.

Harawira, who has previously said he does not support decriminalising marijuana, said the party was in favour due to the impact that drug convictions were having on the lives of young people.

The Internet Party, Mana's coalition partner, also recently said it was considering whether or not to support decriminalisation. Harawira said Mana had made the decision on its own.

"I don't want anybody to think that I like it because I don't, but I see the damage that it does to families." he said.

Harawira, who does not drink or smoke, said drugs were a major problem in Northland communities.

Young people were limiting themselves and their opportunities through using the drug and did not recognise the health cost or impact of drug-related convictions until it was too late.

"They've got to really understand how important that is and because they don't, at that age nobody does, they don't care but I care because I see the potential that's being wasted."

Harawira said he did not know if the policy would be changed in time for the election "but it's coming".

The Green Party supports decriminalisation but says it's not a priority. Labour is opposed to the idea.

Harawira also said that Internet-Mana hoped to have its combined policy platform finalised ahead of their national speaking tour which begins on July 15.

Harawira said a small group representing both parties was fleshing out the platform, which mixed the priorities of the two groups.

Harawira admitted he was still trying to figure out what the future of the alliance was, though a long-term relationship was looking more likely with Laila Harre at the helm of the Internet Party.

Harawira said Mana was not following its partner's lead in terms of its new-age approach to the selection of candidates, or online policy development and was sticking to old-fashioned politics, yet it was "always open to new ideas".

He was still to speak with other left-wing parties about potential electoral accommodations though he planned to do so and he called for those parties not to criticise each other going into the election as they tried to form a bloc large enough to change the government.

Mana would stand candidates in all seven Maori electorates, however, and were in the process of selecting them, though they had only named three candidates so far.

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