Internet Mana backs medicinal cannabis use

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 16:54 04/09/2014
Hone Harawira
PETER MEECHAM/ Fairfax NZ
CHANGE OF HEART: Hone Harawira now a little more relaxed about marijuana laws.

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Internet-Mana is calling for a review of New Zealand drug laws, with a particular focus on cannabis.

But while Mana and the Internet Party are both calling for reform and agree the drug should be made available for medicinal use, they have not reached an agreement on decriminalisation.

Both parties, which remain separate entities but are running together for the election, said cannabis use should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal one and the current laws were unfair.

They want a complete review of New Zealand drug laws so the law was able to "focus more on helping people than penalising them". Under the current legislation, the fear of conviction stopped people from seeking help, the party said.

Leader Hone Harawira was a staunch opponent of cannabis but has since changed his stance.

"We cannot shy away from the task, given the number of arrests, convictions, and jail time for cannabis use - with ongoing discrimination resulting in Maori making up nearly 50 per cent of convictions," he said.

The party was still working on its policy for decriminalisation, with Harawira saying "our desire is to help cannabis users with the right support and treatment rather than continue with the punishment approach".

Fear of a conviction was stopping cannabis users from seeking help, Harawira said.

Mana also wants to ban the importation, manufacture and sale of tobacco and tobacco products.

It would restrict the sale of alcohol and prevent alcohol-related sponsorship of sport and cultural events, raise the purchasing age to 20 and increase taxes.

Internet Party leader Laila Harre said they supported the decriminalisation of possession and cultivation for personal use as well as medicinal use.

"Internet Party members have strongly supported immediate decriminalisation and want us to develop a model for the legalisation and proper regulation of cannabis," she said.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party leader Julian Crawford called for the cannabis market to be regulated.

"Decriminalising personal use would not be enough to undermine the black-market trade."

Medical cannabis trials should begin immediately, he said.

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