Duncan Garner looked at the cannabis issue and interviewed Green spokesperson Kevin Hague and Labour leader Andrew Little about their views on cannabis on RadioLive.
Andrew Little – “So my approach is proceed with caution”.
There’s likely to be as much political caution as caution over cannabis. But if encouraged Little should at least join the debate and not sweep it under the carpet as most parties and politicians have kept doing up until now.
Another US state has legalised cannabis so Duncan Garner asked his listeners if it’s time we did the same in New Zealand and got a resounding “yes”.
More than 1000 people voted in his poll, with, at the time of writing, 86% of people saying New Zealand should follow the likes of Colorado, Uruguay, the Netherlands and North Korea and legalise cannabis.
Transcript of the Andrew Little interview.
Garner: We’ve had this debate this afternoon around the legalisation of cannabis, we’ve got a poll up and man it’s been phenomenal, 86% replied (saying cannabis should be legalised), 2000 votes. We’ve had Kevin Hague on, he says it is actually time for this debate to actually occur given what’s happening in America, around four different states either decriminalise or legalised.
What’s your position on decriminalising cannabis?
Little: Yeah up to now I think we’ve, my personal view is I’ve approached it very cautiously. I mean I, when I was a union lawyer I did a lot of cases of the drug and testing in workplaces and all that sort of stuff.
The studies I did of it, the thing that came out of it for me was that a lot of the cannabis in New Zealand, that’s grown in New Zealand has such a high THC level it’s actually different to cannabis sold in other countries, so that’s an area of danger.
But having said that I’d be keen to have a look and see what the experience has been of States like you know Washington and the other states that have adopted decriminalisation more recently and just see what the experience has been and see whether there is something we can learn from it.
I’d never say no to it but I’d say we’ve got to approach this with considerable caution.
It sounds like Little wants to approach it with considerable caution. A lot has already been learnt from overseas experience going back many years.
Garner: Right, considerable caution because it could be politically not viable, it might make you unpopular? Or because you believe in it’s worth having a debate?
Little: Oh no given that my honeymoon’s over, I’m used to the unpopularity…
Garner: Yes it is over, you don’t want a long honeymoon mate, you don’t want a long honeymoon…
Little: I’m more concerned about the public health and safety aspects of it and given the conditions here. That’s the issue for me.
There are already health and safety aspects as things are. And legal and social issues. But how we currently deal with it isn’t working very well.
I think since i was up at the Auckland University quad yesterday, part of the ? week, I talked to some of the young folks there and that issue came up.
Unprompted just raised that issue with me. So there’s clearly a discussion going on out there though and you know we need to be part of it.
The discussion has been going on for a long time.
Garner: When you discuss these things obviously you get those headlines out, ‘Little supports decriminalisation’, I mean is that a fair headline or not?
Little: (pause) no that would be an unfair headline at the moment because I, I’m not, I don’t, I know there is an issue there. I’d like to look more closely at it. I’d like to look at the experience of the American states that have decriminalised.
But I draw on my own personal experience and the research I’ve done when I was a union lawyer, to say there is an issue here that is not as easy just to say let’s decriminalise, let’s open it up.
So my approach is proceed with caution.
Garner: Proceed with caution but at least start to look at what’s happening in America.
Little: Have a look, and lets have the debate. Ah and lets get some facts, lets shine some facts on the issue. Lets not just react emotionally but lets have the debate, get the facts and proceed with caution.
There’s a lot of facts known already. It’s the debate that’s been lacking, assiduously avoided by politicians.
Little is being ultra cautious here.
To be fair to him it’s early in his time as leader and he will need to work through it within Labour. At least that’s what he should be doing.
I know there’s a will in (part of) Labour caucus to address the cannabis issue. And there’s likely to be strong support in the Labour constituency to address the issue. And in the wider population.
Little needs to be encouraged and if necessary pressured to pick up the cannabis ball and run with it. Serious political debate on it is long overdue.