People will vote in the Cannabis Referendum next year. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM
Cannabis is ‘not a winner’
Wairarapa MPs are split on whether the recreational use of cannabis should be legal.
One admits to having smoked it twice, and another says taking the issue to referendum was “irresponsible”.
The draft legislation made public by Justice Minister Andrew Little on Tuesday, included a minimum age of 20 to use and purchase cannabis, limited home-growing options, and commercial supply controls.
It prohibited use in public places, limited the amount of cannabis that is legal to grow, and cannabis contained in food for sale would be regulated.
Wairarapa-based Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty admits to smoking cannabis twice – and said he was sick both times – however this was not informing his vote.
“My concerns are solely around the impact on society, but I maintain an open mind,” McAnulty said.
“I intend to research the matter in depth and just like everyone else I’ll be taking my vote seriously.”
Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott on the other hand said holding a referendum on the issue was “irresponsible”.
The wording of the 2020 Cannabis Referendum would be a yes/no question about supporting the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
“Members of Parliament are there to act on behalf of the electorate and are better equipped to make decisions on these matters,” he said.
“Referendums should only be used for constitutionally important matters such as the MMP decision for example.
“My position is I am against cannabis being readily available for recreational use but am pro it being available from professionals for medicinal use.”
Masterton’s Salvation Army spokesman Peter McRae said the organisation’s position was pro medicinal use but against recreational use.
“There is enough harm from alcohol without legalising another recreational drug,” McRae said.
“Smoking marijuana is unlikely to help someone’s personal situation.
“We are not saying people are going to die from it, but it’s just not a winner.”
Little has invited representatives from each political party represented in Parliament to provide their feedback on the draft bill today.
The government is aiming to have the draft bill ready early next year.
The website, www.referendum.govt.nz provides information on the draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
The majority vote will be binding because the coalition government has committed to abide by the outcome.