If there is one thing the “Legal High” debacle has achieved is that people have seen that the supposedly manageable safe way of using artificial cannabis has turned out to be anything but.
Derek Cheng reports
The latest¬†Herald-DigiPoll survey shows just under a third of those polled thought smoking cannabis should attract a fine but not a criminal conviction, while a fifth went further and said it should be legalised.
Forty-five per cent said it should remain illegal, and 2.6 per cent said they did not know.
Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said: “All the results I’ve seen in New Zealand recently were overwhelmingly opposed to reform.”
While most National Party supporters (53.8 per cent) favoured the status quo, almost 45 per cent supported legalisation or decriminalisation.
The Government last night remained firm in its stance on cannabis.
“We do not think there are any benefits for decriminalising or legalising cannabis, for medicinal purposes or otherwise, which outweigh the harm it causes to society,” said Justice Minister Judith Collins.
The harm is already part of society. ¬†By legalising or decriminalising it, all you do is turn something that many, many Kiwis are already using in their daily or weekly lives into something that is no longer a criminal act.
This issue, to some degree, will mature in the sense that as parliament renews with younger MPs, they bring with them more updated social expectations. ¬† Just like gay marriage couldn’t have made it to legal status 20 years ago, 20 years from now, New Zealand parliament will have an easy majority of MPs ready to accept marijuana and hemp and its many, legal and useful applications – including medical.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said there was no sense of any great political appetite for reform.
There you go. ¬†No political appetite. ¬†Just like there has been no political appetite for changing the retirement age, although we can all see it edging towards the cliff as an issue that will grab us by the throat sooner or later.
Labour drug and alcohol spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said there was a growing mood for reform.
“We wouldn’t look at legalisation in the first instance, but we want to use the Law Commission report as a starting point for a conversation.”
Labour also say “not on our watch”, but are happy to look a little more open to thinking about it.
The Green Party calls for no penalties for possession and use of cannabis for people aged 18 and over, though it still wants selling cannabis and cultivating for sale to be against the law.
And that will probably be the stance we will adopt as a country in a decade or two.
But it will require another flush or two of new talent to enter the political system first.
- NZ Herald