Mayor had 'no choice'

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2012

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An attempt was made to hush Waimate district councillor Sandy Mulqueen's call for marijuana decriminalisation.

It has emerged that Waimate Mayor John Coles tried to stop her from making a submission to her own council's long-term plan that cannabis should be decriminalised for medical and personal use.

His move is included in a public statement he felt compelled to make yesterday following publicity that was painting Waimate in a bad light.

The Herald ran a story on Tuesday about Ms Mulqueen's proposal, and it has been picked up by national media.

Mr Coles says Ms Mulqueen's "personal crusade" to decriminalise cannabis has caused such a reaction in the community that he has been compelled to clarify the matter.

"Most importantly, council has nothing in the long-term plan on this subject.

"Even though I tried to persuade Ms Mulqueen to withdraw her submission, after seeking advice on the matter, council staff had no choice but to accept and process the submission."

Mr Coles says he has received numerous calls from the public opposing the submission and asking if Ms Mulqueen's actions will affect her future on the council.

"There were a number of candidates who stood for council in the past election and the disappointment which is being expressed to me about Ms Mulqueen as a Waimate ward representative can only be answered through the election process.

"There are many issues before council, with 530 submissions being made on community matters and I believe that any councillor should be giving their undivided attention to these matters; this is what they were elected for.

"Waimate is still a great little town and we should not let this situation deflect from the great attributes which our district has in both the urban and rural areas."

Waimate councillors would not be drawn into the debate with no one prepared to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, more than 1500 people have responded to a Timaru Herald online poll about cannabis laws.

By yesterday afternoon, 651 people said the use of marijuana should be decriminalised, 376 said it should be legalised and 520 opted for the status quo.

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- The Timaru Herald

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