Views on cannabis reforms

A referendum on legalising cannabis for personal use will be held in tandem with next year’s General Election. The Herald’s Wynsley Wrigley spoke with local MPs, mayoralty candidates and Gisborne Chamber of Commerce about the issue. The first in a series of articles is the MPs’ views . . .

Gisborne's Labour MPs Meka Whaitiri and Kiri Allan are undecided about legalising of cannabis for personal use while National’s Anne Tolley opposes the proposal, which will go to the nation in a referendum next year.

Mrs Tolley — the MP for East Coast and deputy speaker of the house — said she had never supported legalising psychoactive drugs, other than for medicinal purposes. She still does not.

“If a tax regime is imposed it is also naive to think a black market won’t develop, as we are seeing for tobacco,’’ she said. “Every school principal I’ve dealt with over the years has raised with me the damage they see in young people from homes filled with cannabis smoke on a regular basis.

“Why on earth would we make that legal and signal that it is OK to damage young brains?”

MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti Meka Whaitiri said she supported the medicinal use of cannabis “and the associated regulations that go with that”, but was undecided on legalising personal recreational use.

She encouraged people to vote in next year’s referendum, which will be held in tandem with the General Election.

“I tried cannabis over 30 years ago when I was at university. It was random and wasn’t anything to write home about.”

Labour list MP Kiri Allan said she was undecided on the referendum. “It will come down to what’s in the legislation so I’ll be keeping an open mind.”

Ms Allan smoked cannabis when she was “a lot younger”. “It made me sleepy and hungry, and I enjoyed whisky more.”

Mrs Tolley said had never smoked cannabis in New Zealand.

“I did try it once while in the United States as a student and hated the taste and its effect.”

The exact wording of the referendum will be decided by the Electoral Commission.

A Cabinet paper released last week suggested what the broad parameters of a “yes” vote could change.

Cannabis consumption, sale, and purchase for recreational use would be made legal for 20-year-olds and over, but would be kept tightly regulated by the Government. Only licensed premises would be allowed to sell cannabis and it could only be consumed either on licensed premises or in private homes.

Advertising would not be permitted.

Justice Minister Andrew Little has chosen the age of 20, despite evidence that cannabis consumption can harm brain development for those aged under 25, on the grounds that 80 percent of Kiwis had tried cannabis before turning 21.

Keeping personal cannabis use illegal until the age of 25 would keep people using the drug and accessing the black market, he said.

A referendum on legalising cannabis for personal use will be held in tandem with next year’s General Election. The Herald’s Wynsley Wrigley spoke with local MPs, mayoralty candidates and Gisborne Chamber of Commerce about the issue. The first in a series of articles is the MPs’ views . . .

Gisborne's Labour MPs Meka Whaitiri and Kiri Allan are undecided about legalising of cannabis for personal use while National’s Anne Tolley opposes the proposal, which will go to the nation in a referendum next year.

Mrs Tolley — the MP for East Coast and deputy speaker of the house — said she had never supported legalising psychoactive drugs, other than for medicinal purposes. She still does not.

“If a tax regime is imposed it is also naive to think a black market won’t develop, as we are seeing for tobacco,’’ she said. “Every school principal I’ve dealt with over the years has raised with me the damage they see in young people from homes filled with cannabis smoke on a regular basis.

“Why on earth would we make that legal and signal that it is OK to damage young brains?”

MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti Meka Whaitiri said she supported the medicinal use of cannabis “and the associated regulations that go with that”, but was undecided on legalising personal recreational use.

She encouraged people to vote in next year’s referendum, which will be held in tandem with the General Election.

“I tried cannabis over 30 years ago when I was at university. It was random and wasn’t anything to write home about.”

Labour list MP Kiri Allan said she was undecided on the referendum. “It will come down to what’s in the legislation so I’ll be keeping an open mind.”

Ms Allan smoked cannabis when she was “a lot younger”. “It made me sleepy and hungry, and I enjoyed whisky more.”

Mrs Tolley said had never smoked cannabis in New Zealand.

“I did try it once while in the United States as a student and hated the taste and its effect.”

The exact wording of the referendum will be decided by the Electoral Commission.

A Cabinet paper released last week suggested what the broad parameters of a “yes” vote could change.

Cannabis consumption, sale, and purchase for recreational use would be made legal for 20-year-olds and over, but would be kept tightly regulated by the Government. Only licensed premises would be allowed to sell cannabis and it could only be consumed either on licensed premises or in private homes.

Advertising would not be permitted.

Justice Minister Andrew Little has chosen the age of 20, despite evidence that cannabis consumption can harm brain development for those aged under 25, on the grounds that 80 percent of Kiwis had tried cannabis before turning 21.

Keeping personal cannabis use illegal until the age of 25 would keep people using the drug and accessing the black market, he said.

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