NZ Green Party
Addressing the cannabis problem

Nandor this morning released a Private Member’s Bill relating to cannabis. Rather than full-blown decriminalisation, the Bill would see instant fines of $100 for possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use. This would see cannabis possession for personal use regarded by the law as similar to speeding or parking infringements. However, the penalties for selling cannabis would not change, and the penalties for smoking cannabis with or near kids would be beefed up. Children caught smoking cannabis would be fined, and sent to drug education programmes.

Nandor explains the justification for his Bill thus:

There is widespread agreement across the political divide and throughout the community about the problems of prohibition.

I have spoken to people all over New Zealand about their concerns and I have listened to them. This Bill is an attempt to find a workable solution that addresses the concerns of most people.

Most New Zealanders recognise that a criminal record for the personal use of cannabis is a disproportionate punishment, but many still want to retain a message that cannabis use is to be discouraged, particularly by young people. This bill meets both of those objectives.

Some politicians want to polarise the debate for their own political ends. The Greens are looking for consensus around points of agreement. This is mainstream stuff…

This Bill is also the first time that provisions have been introduced that are specifically targeted at keeping cannabis away from kids. People under 18 caught with small amounts of cannabis will, in addition to the other sanctions, be required to participate in an approved drug education programme. And adults using cannabis within 100 metres of a place predominantly used by young people will attract a more significant fine.

While this Bill is unlikely to be passed before the election, its partial decriminalisation is the position the Greens will be taking into post-election negotiations with Labour.

United and National have already come out swinging about the Bill. Nandor‘s response to these attacks is here.

20 thoughts on “Addressing the cannabis problem

  1. It’s interesting that Peter Dunhill’s press release says that keeping cannabis illegal is “non-negotiable”. I seem to remember that when the Greens had a non-negotiable issue (the GE moratorium) prior to the 2002 election Mr Dunhill accused us of unreasonable behaviour and said we were babies throwing the toys out of the cot if we didn’t get our own way. How is United’s position on cannabis any different?

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  2. It isn’t.

    There is no such thing as “non-negotiable” if you are a real politician. Which tells us that both Greens AND United are not really made up of politicians.

    How United came by this policy is a bit of a mystery to me. They claim pragmatism as a principle. There is nothing pragmatic about inflexible opposition to a drug like cannabis.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  3. For goodness sake keep the cannabis thing moderate and mainstream. It is the Green one policy issue that alienates more middle class kiwi’s than any other. Although at first skim this PM Bill looks very reasonable, it is also just the kind of gold-plated opportunity your political opponents will use to smear you with.

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  4. As far as I can see the only problem with this is that it was introduced by nandor. Maybe the greens could have a “sub” system where they swap Private members bills with each other to keep these conservative nut jobs off their trail.
    I don’t see how this could be more “moderate and mainstream”.
    Having said that we all know what damage a hyped up media can cause. Is this really worth the risk right now?
    Of course it is if we have a beleif in what we stand for.

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  5. Logix is right of course. The best thing that could have happened to this bill is that it could have been held until AFTER the election.

    Nandor… if you ever read this blog.. YOU HAVE TO WIN if you want your legislation to stand. You aren’t helping.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  6. No yer all missing the point,

    releasing this was a brilliant pre-election move to defuse the arguments of the prohibitionist parties

    it is so moderate and defensible that you look pretty silly arguing against it, which in my humble and biased opinion I felt that Dunhill did look pretty silly on TV 1 tonight with his Dalek-like “non-negotiable”

    you’ve got to realise that the Greens being quiet on cannabis and pretending our policy didn’t exist is exactly what we tried in 2002 and it failed big time with the field left open for other parties to define what our policy stands for – e.g. the scurrilous last week United TV ads mis-representing our policy

    the greens have to take the lead on cannabis, and be upfront about our sensible, moderate and defensible policy, and show the prohibitionists up to be blinkered blustering fools who have no answers to the complete failure of prohibition

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  9. “We will not hold the Government to ransom or threaten to throw our toys out of the cot when we don’t get our own way.” — Peter Dunne, 7 November 2002
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0211/S00119.htm

    “As always, the Greens try to have a bob each way. They’ll cuddle up to Labour when they get what they want, but as soon as Labour demonstrates some commonsense and rejects yet another loony Green idea, the Greens turn septic, throw their toys out of the cot and try to bring the Government down.

    “This is not the behaviour of sane adults operating in an MMP environment, they are the antics of petulant spoiled children who are not fit to be Parliament,” — Peter Dunne, 7 August 2003
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0308/S00120.htm

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  10. Stuey’s point is definitely a good one, but…

    why before the election, why why why? Voters already perceive the Green party as being these weird token hippies in parliament. Introducing this bill just before the election when they’re just starting to like and respect us on policies like energy & the Zimbabwe issue etc is so not good! Personally I pretty much agree with decriminalisation etc, and I would guess that a lot of NZers do, but cannabis should not be a campaign issue, it will backfire.
    (ps I really hope I’m wrong)

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  11. poor Nandor he could say, we U turns, we present private bill for twenty years jail for dope, then castration when you comes out, and we also burns yo house down just in case you hides the gear, we deports yo kids, and put an bracelet on yo tootsie, end of Bill,
    and Peter’s Done he still rush out and say
    ‘ see what you gets from those pinko’s they wants anarchy, they just the thick edge of the wedge, yous cans tell by the haircut not, this sorts of looseness breaks up the family,

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  12. peter q for once I completely agree with you, and not just Dunhill, but Jim Anderton, the Nats and NZ First as well!

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  13. ah zoe the answer is, as Rod said in The Press today:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3350516a6160,00.html

    Greens co-leader Rod Donald said that it would have been a bigger risk for the Greens not to raise the issue. “We fully expect United Future and National to attack our cannabis policy whatever we do, so it’s much better that we front-foot the issue and come up with a sensible policy,” he said.

    “I’ve yet to find anyone who wants their son or daughter to end up with a criminal conviction for smoking dope.

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  14. I can’t see this bill damaging the Greens. People thinking of voting Green are not going to be disuaded because of MJ and those not voting Greens have other reasons for that.

    On this issue I think Nandor is doing the right thing. Harm minimisation is the best approach and well worth advocating even if brings a strong negative reaction from social conservatives.

    Now if the frog get get SK to shut up for awhile, that might do the Greens some good.

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  15. The public perception of this cannabis issue is not doing much for the Green’s popularity.

    1. Why is the Green’s Drug Policy spokesman a pot-smoking, dreadlocked Rastafarian? Does this not completely erode the party’s perceived credibility on this issue? They would be better off giving the portfolio on such a sensitive issue to somebody who is far less provocative.

    2. Logically, the Greens should be the most anti-drug party of the whole lot. Recreational drug use is pollution for the body just as car fumes and toxic waste pollute the planet. A clean, green New Zealand is one where we have a pure natural environment with clean air & water, healthy food, lots of outdoor fun and exercise, and a DRUG-FREE lifestyle. But the Greens seem to have trouble putting this issue across.

    3. Does it therefore make any sense to liberalise yet another harmful drug? What about instead, cracking down on the tobacco and alcohol cartels and making it harder for them to pedal their deadly substances? Pandering to those who simply want to smoke their noxious spliffs in public without inhibition seems to be both an anti-Health solution and a vote-loser for the party.

    4. That said, there is absolutely no sense in sending drug addicts to prison. I would support a scheme in which all non-dealing illegal drug users go into Rehab programs which give them an alternative to drug use. I feel that jail sentences in this case do more harm than good. And maybe bringing in instant fines for cannabis is the best way to deal with it for the moment.

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  16. why before the election, why why why? Voters already perceive the Green party as being these weird token hippies in parliament. Introducing this bill just before the election when they’re just starting to like and respect us on policies like energy & the Zimbabwe issue etc is so not good! Personally I pretty much agree with decriminalisation etc, and I would guess that a lot of NZers do, but cannabis should not be a campaign issue, it will backfire.
    (ps I really hope I’m wrong)

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  17. “I’ve yet to find anyone who wants their son or daughter to end up with a criminal conviction for smoking dope.

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  18. “weird token hippies in parliament”
    You may speak for yourself – the grey holler men are somewhere else on the scale.

    “I’ve yet to find anyone who wants their son or daughter to end up with a criminal conviction for smoking dope.”

    Zigzakly! Thats why they should be voting for decriminalization.

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