Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier this year she “shares the view of many” that possessing cannabis should not be a crime.
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said around the same time that if decriminalisation of cannabis came up as a Member’s Bill, Labour would treat it as a conscience vote. That means Labour MPs – who hold a majority in Parliament – could vote in favour of it.
National’s justice spokesperson Simon Bridges says his party is open to discussion.
“National would discuss any proposed legislation surrounding decriminalising cannabis as a caucus. But we don’t support the Government’s current moves to decriminalise drugs by stealth,” he told Newshub.
“If the Government wants to decriminalise drugs it should win the support of Parliament and the public. National supports both greater rehabilitation and tougher sentences.
“Treatment and deterrence should go hand in hand. National will not support any moves that will see increased drug harm in our neighbourhoods.”
ACT leader David Seymour supported legalisation.
“I think decriminalisation is a halfway house. I think that legalisation is a more defensible position because decriminalisation means that kids at Otago who want to go on their OE don’t go to jail but poor brown kids that sell it to them end up getting punished,” he told Newshub.
“So I’m not in favour of decriminalisation. You either want to ban it or legalise it. I think there’s increasing evidence that legalisation doesn’t lead to greater use but what it does do is it means that we get a safer alternative and we get more information and less harm.”
Swarbrick confirmed to Newshub that rather than drafting her own Member’s Bill to address decriminalisation, there were “ongoing discussions” for co-sponsored, cross-party legislation.
Swarbrick said the Greens were working on something “genuinely cross-party with MPs across the House”, which could be achieved by using a new rule that allows 61 non-ministerial MPs to get legislation debated in Parliament.
The new rule means if an MP can wrangle support from 61 non-ministerial colleagues the Bill can go straight onto Parliament’s order paper, bypassing the traditional Member’s Bill ballot, where proposed laws can often sit for years waiting to be pulled.
“I don’t think I ever see myself giving up on something like justice in the space of drug law reform,” Swarbrick said. “If we want to do the right thing and if the Government wants to follow its own advice that it commissioned…”