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.
Kevin Hague: “What we’re trying to achieve is that to ensure that drug use causes as little harm as it possibly can.”
“One is around medicinal cannabis, and it’s very clear that a very large majority of New Zealanders support better access to medicinal cannabis ”
“Our policy says that there should be no penalty for personal use or cultivation up to a certain point.”
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 Kevin Hague interview.
Garner: So where do the Greens stand on this? And will we see some kind of public debate? Or is it simply too hard for our politicians given what America’s doing. Is it time we caught with this or do we just watch and follow, Who knows.
Kevin Hague is the Green drugs policy spokesperson. What are your views in what’s happening in America?
Hague: Oh look I think it’s a very interesting thing, because what we are seeing I guess particularly from Colorado where we’ve probably got the best information so far and probably the longest history so far…
…is that the kinda dire predictions about increased use and increased harm haven’t come about. That actually evidence is pretty strong that there’s actually if anything been reduced harm, and as you mentioned in your intro actually there’s a bit of a dilemma for Colorado legislators, what are they going to do with all the money that’s come in.
Garner: Well the answer to that question could be that it goes into the health system, or it goes into the education system.
Hague: Yes precisely. What we’ve been calling for is a rational approach to drugs in general and I guess cannabis in particular, where we look at what is it that we’re trying to achieve.
What we’re trying to achieve is that to ensure that drug use causes as little harm as it possibly can.
Garner: So do you think Kevin, if I can take you right back to the start. Do you think we need to change the law here?
Hague: Yeah, absolutely. So we’ve been standing for this for a long time because it’s very clear that the current law is not achieving that goal.
The current law is I mean if you just take the simple fact that most New Zealanders have used cannabis. Well clearly the law as it stands is not reducing demand, and in fact is putting a lot of people in harms way because if New Zealanders are needing to go to you know gangs for example to get their supply well those gangs aren’t concerned with quality or ensuring that under age people don’t get access.
Or ensuring that people who need treatment for example are actually referred. Those are all things that we could do if we changed the law. As well as the medicinal aspects.
Garner: Right, so what would you do with the law? if you were able to draft something and start lobbying around Parliament and get 61 votes, what would a law look like for you?
Hague: Well I guess there’s two different arenas.
One is around medicinal cannabis, and it’s very clear that a very large majority of New Zealanders support better access to medicinal cannabis and you’ll know that we put a bill to Parliament in 2009 and got 34 votes out of 120.
Things have changed over the last five or six years. Apart from the Government.
But the step forward we need to make in that area, more generally our policy says that there should be no penalty for personal use or cultivation up to a certain point.
Garner: Would you decriminalise rather than legalise?
Hague: Our policy is kind of doesn’t use either of those words, and we’re currently actually in light of the experience in the United States and Portugal and other jurisdictions we are looking at overhauling our own policy.
To be completed later.