New Zealand: Drive to legalize marijuana gets stronger

New Zealanders want marijuana legalized
New Zealanders want marijuana legalized

Public support for marijuana law reform in New Zealand is as strong as ever, the NZ Drug Foundation says, citing poll results.

Of those questioned, 65 percent believed possessing marijuana for personal use should be legalised (28 percent) or decriminalised (37 percent).

Foundation executive director Ross Bell says the split matches a survey a year ago when 64 percent were in favour of change.

“The current system is broken,” he said. “Getting a criminal conviction for possessing marijuana ruins peoples’ lives and creates huge downstream costs for society.”

The foundation wants political parties to make commitments to health-focused drug law during the election campaign.

The poll of 938 people, commissioned by the foundation, was conducted in July.

Mr Bell said it showed cross-party support for change relating to personal use, led by voters for the Green Party (92 percent in favour) and NZ First (68 percent).

Total supporting legalising or decriminalising marijuana:

  • For personnel possession – 65 percent
  • Personal growing – 55 percent
  • Growing for friends – 26 percent
  • Pain relief – 78 percent
  • Terminal pain relief – 81 percent
  • Selling from a store – 34 percent.
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At a NORML rally two weeks ago, spokesman Chris Fowlie urged marijuana users to vote “Jacinda over Bill” at the election.

“The Government’s piecemeal changes do not change much for patients, who are still needlessly suffering. We are calling for patients and their caregivers to be allowed to grow and use marijuana for health purposes.”

On Thursday during a Facebook Live event, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said “young people in particular” shouldn’t be doing time for possession.

“I don’t think anyone should be serving a sentence in prison for smoking marijuana. I don’t think that’s a good response.”

While a few thousand people under 25 get drug convictions every year, very few go to jail.

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