Marijuana is a prohibited drug in New Zealand and it is likely to remain so after the election this year. A fundamental premise of marijuana’s status as prohibited is that any discussion around this illegal drug is a criminal justice issue, not a health issue. To remove marijuana from the Misuse of Drugs Act would no longer class marijuana as a prohibited drug and this is simply wrong. We should continue to treat marijuana use as a criminal justice issue under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
If there is any doubt about whether this should be the case, I suggest you visit an emergency ward on a Friday or Saturday night. It is clear to the health professionals there that marijuana is not a medical treatment. The carnage that they see every weekend of young lives being ruined by drug and alcohol misuse is a sobering lesson for us all. Alcohol is already a legalised drug in New Zealand, we don’t need to add marijuana to the list. Especially when we are seeking to have our communities smoke free by 2025.
The Psychoactive Substances Bill is here to stay. I believe that there will be a “no” vote in the upcoming referendum and there seems to be no need to change this at this stage. The Psychoactive Substances Bill has its origins in Hamilton with the legal high store on Grey Street becoming the poster child for the legislation a number of years ago. The ensuing public uproar and opposition to these legal sales led central and local Government to work together to eradicate these types of stores. Since then there has been no shift in public opinion and so I can’t see any reason to change the legislation.