Legal cannabis in NZ? Green Party offers green light to pot smokers
The Green Party say it will legalise cannabis if it forms a government next year.
Under its proposal, people would be able to legally grow and possess marijuana for personal use.
The Green Party would also urgently amend the law so sick people using medicinal marijuana were not penalised.
The party's new Drug Law Reform Policy released on Friday outlined plans to overhaul existing drug laws in what it said was an inevitable push toward cannabis legalisation.
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"I think eventually we'll follow in the footsteps of USA and Canada," Green Party health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.
"It's pretty obvious that we need to modernise our drug laws to keep up with the rest of the world."
Genter said there was renewed momentum for reform of cannabis laws, particularly when it came to using the drug for medical reasons.
Personal use would be the next step, she said.
"I think public attitudes in New Zealand are really changing. The majority are in favour of decriminalisation or legalisation."
Genter compared the debate to marriage equality, saying there was likely to be some initial opposition but that it would eventually gain broad support.
She said the focus of the policy was more on health and harm minimisation.
If it was legalised and regulated, she said it would make it harder for young people to access weed, with a minimum age restriction to be determined by the government.
The Green Party's platform on drug law reform had been a year in the making.
It had been discussed with Labour, who Genter said agreed with most of the policy direction.
A NZ Drug Foundation poll from August found 64 per cent of people think possessing a small amount of cannabis for personal use should be either legal (33 per cent) or decriminalised (31 per cent).
Labour leader Andrew Little had floated the idea of having a referendum on legalising cannabis, but has since said it was not a priority for Labour.
The likely next Prime Minister Bill English said earlier this year he was not in favour of legalisation.