Pubdate: Tue, 16 Aug 2016
Source: Nelson Mail, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2016 Fairfax New Zealand Limited


Almost 65 per cent of New Zealanders are in favour of legalising or 
decriminalising cannabis, according to a new survey.

The NZ Drug Foundation poll found 64 per cent of respondents think 
possessing a small amount of cannabis for personal use should be 
either legal (33 per cent) or decriminalised (31 per cent).

However, 34 per cent of the 15,000 Kiwis surveyed were in favour of 
possession of the class C drug remaining illegal.

NZ Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said it was the first 
time such a strong majority had been in favour of reforming the drug 
laws relating to cannabis.

"This tells us voters are ready for change even if lawmakers aren't."

The poll also found 82 per cent of Kiwis think cannabis use for 
terminal pain relief should be either legalised or decriminalised, 
and 79 per cent are in favour of it being used for pain relief 
(legal: 63 per cent; decriminalised: 16 per cent).

Terminally ill former trade unions boss Helen Kelly said there needed 
to be an immediate overhaul of the legal status of cannabis.

Kelly said she had been "surprised" how well cannabis had helped her 
manage her pain.

Kelly said the Government's attitude towards reform was 
"patronising". "People need to have a think about what they're 
denying people like me."

The poll also looked at people's views on cannabis law reform in 
relation to political affiliations. The results showed attitudes did 
not vary greatly between voters.

"This poll shows that it doesn't matter what party people back, there 
is consistent support to move away from the criminal justice approach 
to drugs," Bell said.

Labour leader Andrew Little floated having a referendum on legalising 
cannabis last week, but has since insisted it was not a priority for Labour.

Prime Minister John Key said it wasn't on his Government's agenda either.

Key believed police "for the most part" did not prosecute people with 
small amounts of cannabis and especially those who used it for 
medicinal purposes.

He admitted the law was not working "perfectly", but compared the 
issue to synthetic cannabis.

"If you legalise cannabis, you're gonna have to sell it somewhere. In 
the end you'll have a shop, just like you had a legal high shop."

Before long communities would be saying it was not wanted.

Fairfax NZ
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