Greens want cannabis decriminalised

Last updated 20:00 26/01/2014
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The Green Party wants to see cannabis decriminalised, saying it will push for the law change in any post-election discussions but that it is not a bottom line.

Speaking after her State of the Nation speech at Waitangi Park in Wellington, co-leader Metiria Turei said they wanted to see the law changed.

"I would like to progress a vast amount of our policy, actually and that would be one that would be very interesting," she said.

Turei said they believed a drug-free lifestyle was the healthiest, but did not believe adults should be convicted of a crime if they smoked cannabis.

Decriminalising the drug was "the wisest policy," however it would not be a bottom-line issue for the party in any post-election discussions.

The party would look further at the proposals put forward by the Law Commission which she said had provided a good model for decriminalisation.

Co-leader Russel Norman agreed with Turei.

"Decriminalisation has obviously been a long-standing Green Party policy, there has been movement on it internationally as well as domestically and it will be on the table in any post-election negotiation, like our other policies."

Turei pointed to changes in legislation controlling the drug in other countries such as the US where States such as Colorado have recently decriminalised cannabis.

Cannabis was also a topic at the recent Ratana celebrations at the weekend.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party spokesman Fred Macdonald caused a stir when he used his speech on the marae to espouse the virtues of the drug.

Macdonald argued that legalising cannabis would earn more revenue for the Crown and see fewer people imprisoned. He said the drug was used as a medicine in the time of Jesus Christ and called for decriminalisation

"Just get on with it, stop making our cannabis convicts political prisoners because that's what's going on. The war on drugs, it's just a whole lot of bullies . . .," Macdonald said.

Labour MP Shane Jones then spoke out against the comments in his own speech shortly after. Jones said drugs and alcohol were a major problem in Maori communities and a religious celebration on a marae was not a place to associate Jesus with cannabis, praise its potential or argue for decriminalisation.

"I wanted to send a message to all the visitors and to Ratana: do not allow your powhiri to be diminished by some half-stoned creature from Macdonald's farm," he said.

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