Q+A: Should NZ legalise recreational cannabis?

Last night Q+A had a debate between Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and head of Family First Bob McCroskie on whether New Zealand should legalise the recreational use of cannabis (separate to allowing the use of medicinal cannabis).

To Swarbrick: What is it you want here, are you after legalisation, which would effectively allow people to grow marijuana, for it to be sold, to be regulated, the Canadian model, is that what you’re pushing for?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah, so I think you’ve kind of hit the nail on the head there. We currently have a state of play whereby illegal drugs are unregulated drugs. people don’t necessarily know the compounds that they are purchasing or consuming.

So in the Green-Labour confidence and supply line 19 of that says that we want to see drugs treated as a health issue.

From the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement:

19. Increase funding for alcohol and drug addiction services and ensure drug use is treated as a
health issue, and have a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis at, or by, the
2020 general election.


Chlöe Swarbrick: Part of that is the referendum on the recreational personal use…

Corin Dann: So Kiwis would be able to go to some sort of a store and buy cannabis for personal use?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah. So we have the option of looking around the world. Obviously Canada is going to be doing this on Wednesday this coming week. I think they have a really robust set of regulations that they’re looking at.

They’re focussed on harm reduction. They’re focussed on education. They’re focussed on taking it out of the hands of kids.

I think that’s quite different to the rules we’ve seen perhaps in the likes of Colorado which are more free market type models, where advertising is abundant and you have door to door delivery services.

But what we’re proposing, as we’ve been quite strong on for a while now, is…providing the legislation first so it is black and white what we are going to be voting on at that referendum come 2019 or 2020. So we remove all grey from the debate.

So make it clear in proposed legislation what would happen, and leave it to us the people to decide.

Corin Dann: Alright Bob you have been in Colorado I understand, it’s been in place for five years there, very liberal cannabis law. What did you make of it there. It seems to be going all right doesn’t it?

Bob McCoskrie: No it doesn’t, it’s ah the statistics are quite concerning, I mean for example a hundred and fifty percent increase in hospitalisations for marijuana, increase in road deaths with marijuana related to them, they’ve also got the highest teenage use across all states, eighty five percent above the national average for the United States.

Chlöe Swarbrick: Where are those figures from?

Bob McCoskrie: From the Rocky mountain High report…

Chlöe Swarbrick: I don’t think in any way shape or form that is they way we should be doing things.

McCoskrie argued that we shouldn’t be liberalising smoking cannabis while trying to become smoke free with tobacco. He also seems to be against a referendum.

Arguing the Colorado model seems pointless if that’s not the model proposed here.

McCoskrie says there is no war on drugs.

He says that regulation isn’t possible.

Lack of regulation isn’t working here.

McCoskrie claims that the aim is the legalisation of all drugs.

“If we want to be smoke free, lets be drug free”. On what planet?

He argues against what has happened with the Portugal approach, arguing against success there.

McCoskrie says we need to reduce supply and reduce demand, as per tobacco, which is highly regulated. Swarbrick is arguing for regulation.

I’ll transcribe more later if I have time.

On Twitter afterwards:



Leave a comment


  1. Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  15th October 2018

      “Why legalize something that causes harm”
      Because criminalising it’s use causes greater harm.

  2. Reply
  3. Reply
  4. PartisanZ

     /  15th October 2018

    Line 19 says, ” … the PERSONAL use of cannabis …”

    I won’t be in the least surprised if ‘recreational’ is off the table in the referendum and it’s only about medicinal …

    And I won’t be in the least surprised if the question asked is a weighted piece of bastard English to rival the anti anti-smacking referendum …

    That’ll mean someone’s swallowed a really big dead rat …

    • PartisanZ

       /  15th October 2018

      I might add “fuck them all” … but I won’t …

      We’ve got ONE politician out of 120 talking any kind of compassionate, evidence-informed sense …

      It beggars belief!

      • Gezza

         /  15th October 2018

        What we got in that Q&A clip was 11 minutes of two people at opposite ends of the drug laws spectrum interrupting each other, when they weren’t being interrupted by Corin, claiming research on what has happened in other countries which have legalised cannabis/drugs shows the opposite to what the other claims, and based on that, viewers would be none the wiser. This is not the type of programme which is of any use for this topic.

  5. so glad Jacinda refused to sign up to MrTs-UN reaffirmation of drug war stance !

    when the WAR is over we can start again.. with Canada, Holland. Portugal, Uruguay & others 🙂

    • Im astounded that after over 50 years of Drug WAR rhetoric.. some still want it to continue.. for 50 more ??

      It is always clear who are anti-reform.. they tend to use ‘Marijuana’ (the word used in 1940-50s to demonise the herb) McCroskie & co.

      pro-reformers; say Cannabis.. the rest of us 😀

      • I’d like to ask these extremist neo-christian-right..
        Q1)’Who created Cannabis ?’

        Q2) who really demonised it ?

        A1) If it is true that Jehovah/Yehweh etc. created all things.. then the answer is clear !

        A2) certain evil folks

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  15th October 2018

          False logic, Zedd.

          By your logic, arsenic, cyanide and digitalis should be uncontrolled because they are found in nature.

          It’s Yahweh, not Yehweh, and the fact that something was created doesn’t mean that any use it’s put to is good. Wood is from trees, and a good thing….unless you’re bashed on the head with it.Lead is a useful thing, too, unless people use it to kill other people.

          • Zedd

             /  15th October 2018

            yes, yes I hear you well.. I think ya have the wrong man… 😀

          • robertguyton

             /  15th October 2018

            Digitalis is … uncontrolled. At least, there are foxgloves everywhere! !

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  15th October 2018

              Yes, but the digitalis extracted therefrom isn’t freely available. I wouldn’t know how to extract it, or want to.

  6. A good post on this from Russell Brown:

  1. Peter Dunne on recreational cannabis regulation | Your NZ
  2. Q+A: Should NZ legalise recreational cannabis? — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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