The Green Party has updated it’s drugs policy: they want cannabis to be made legal for adults over 18, with home growing allowed and legal markets to be investigated “to determine the best model for New Zealand”. Patients and caregivers would be allowed to use and cultivate cannabis medicinally. It’s a good start – certainly the best policy in parliament. The next general election must be held in 2017.

The full policy can be read here, or download the PDF here. It says:

Key Principles

The Green Party recognises that:

  • Drug policy should be rational and based on credible and scientifically-valid evidence.
  • There can be adverse health, social and economic consequences from the use of drugs for both individuals and society.
  • Not all drug use is problematic.
  • Some individuals in society will choose to use drugs, regardless of their legal status.
  • Prohibition of drugs can cause more harm that it prevents.
  • Drug policy should have a primary focus on improving public health instead of trying to punish users.

Specific Policy Points

Health promotion and reducing harm

  • Evidence-based and age-appropriate drug education in schools; and non-judgemental evidence-based information available through health services and point of sale.
  • Implement recommendations of the Law Commission on the review of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
  • Re-evaluate the relative harms and appropriate legal and regulatory status of psychoactive substances.
  • Support policies to minimise harm caused by drug use – for example needle exchange schemes.
  • Sufficient resources for rehabilitation services and other programmes that provide help rather than punishment for people with drug problems.

Cannabis (including medicinal cannabis)

  • Make cannabis legal for personal use, including possession and cultivation.
  • Introduce a legal age limit for personal use.
  • Assess evidence from overseas jurisdictions with legal cannabis markets to determine the best model for New Zealand.
  • While waiting for broader law change for cannabis, remove penalties for any person with a terminal illness, chronic or debilitating condition to cultivate, possess or use cannabis and/or cannabis products for therapeutic purposes, with the support of a registered medical practitioner.
  • Accelerate the process by which medical cannabis products are licensed for use.
  • Lower barriers for manufacturers to submit new cannabis products for funding applications to PHARMAC.

Alcohol and Tobacco

  • Retain blood alcohol limit at 50mg per 100ml for adults aged 20 and over (the currently-recognised medical definition of intoxication).
  • Phase out all broadcast, billboard and print advertising of alcoholic beverages, and sponsorship by alcohol brands.
  • Keep purchase age for alcohol at 18.
  • Set a minimum price for alcohol and replace the current alcohol tax regime with a tax that is directly proportional to the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink.
  • Commitment to the Smokefree Aotearoa goal, supported by further extension of the Smokefree Environments Act, plain packaging of tobacco products, and further taxation increases.

See the full policy here

News coverage Legal cannabis in NZ? Green Party offers green light to pot smokers

Last updated 12:47, December 9 2016

The Green Party say it will legalise cannabis if it forms a government next year.

Under its proposal, people would be able to legally grow and possess marijuana for personal use.

The Green Party would also urgently amend the law so sick people using medicinal marijuana were not penalised.

The party’s new Drug Law Reform Policy released on Friday outlined plans to overhaul existing drug laws in what it said was an inevitable push toward cannabis legalisation.

“I think eventually we’ll follow in the footsteps of USA and Canada,” Green Party health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

“It’s pretty obvious that we need to modernise our drug laws to keep up with the rest of the world.”

Genter said there was renewed momentum for reform of cannabis laws, particularly when it came to using the drug for medical reasons.

Personal use would be the next step, she said.

“I think public attitudes in New Zealand are really changing. The majority are in favour of decriminalisation or legalisation.”

Genter compared the debate to marriage equality, saying there was likely to be some initial opposition but that it would eventually gain broad support.

She said the focus of the policy was more on health and harm minimisation.

If it was legalised and regulated, she said it would make it harder for young people to access weed, with a minimum age restriction to be determined by the government.

The Green Party’s platform on drug law reform had been a year in the making.

It had been discussed with Labour, who Genter said agreed with most of the policy direction.

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

Labour leader Andrew Little had floated the idea of having a referendum on legalising cannabis, but has since said it was not a priority for Labour.

The likely next Prime Minister Bill English said earlier this year he was not in favour of legalisation.

 – Stuff

Newshub: Greens want full legalisation of cannabis use

By Alex Baird and Mitch McCann Friday 9 Dec 2016

The Green Party is pushing for the full legalisation of cannabis as part of an overhaul of New Zealand drug laws, they announced on Friday morning.

Their proposal would see medicinal cannabis regulated for the chronically ill, with eventual plans to allow the legalisation of personal use.

“Many New Zealander’s recognise that creating criminals out of cannabis users does more harm than the occasional use of marijuana does”, says health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

Ms Genter says the party’s policy has changed from simply calling for decriminalisation of the drug, to setting out more specific targets and frameworks that focus on medical marijuana, which she says are in line with the Law Commission’s 2011 recommendations.

It remains to be seen whether the policy would be at the forefront of a Labour-Greens coalition government, or whether it will be a central policy for the party heading into what’s likely to be a gruelling election campaign.

“We haven’t yet determined what our policy priorities will be, that will be up to the party and will be all up for negotiation”, says Ms Genter.

The Labour Party says it’s on the same page when it comes to the regulation of medicinal cannabis, but that’s not the case when it comes to legalising the drug for recreational use.

“In terms of legalisation and decriminalisation of marijuana, it is not an issue we are working on in terms of policy, we are dealing with the bread and butter issues that New Zealander’s are concerned about”, says health spokesperson Annette King.

Ms King would like to see a conscience vote held for any law changes that go further than medicinal regulation.

The New Zealand Drug Foundation believes based on their research that Kiwis are ready for a change to the misuse of drugs act, but acknowledges those tasked with making the changes aren’t as willing.

“The public is ready for change, we’re seeing that around the world and we’re seeing it in New Zealand. Politicians aren’t yet ready, but the public is” executive director Ross Bell told Newshub in a recent interview.