Brash’s proposal has kicked off a lively debate on MSN NZ, with people commenting this is the first time they have agreed with anything the politician has said.
But his stance has put him offside with some of his party members – Act Epsom seat hopeful John Banks, who is known for his strong views on drugs and alcohol, told the New Zealand Herald yesterday that decriminalising cannabis would never become party policy.
“So many of our vulnerable young people are at sea with alcohol and drugs and often both. They need life-rafts, not concrete boots.”
Aucklander Malcolm said on MSN NZ yesterday that marijuana use should be a personal choice. “If you don’t like it, don’t use it. It is wasting money in the policing and it funds a great deal of crime in this country. Without the easy income from marijuana the gangs would not have the money they need to fund the importation of other drugs. And if it were legalised then we can tax the sale of it, which, as with alcohol, would pay for the health issues that would arise from the use.”
Meanwhile, Edward L from Auckland believes New Zealand’s drug problem needs to be fought by police for the safety of the nation.
“New Zealand has a massive drug problem already. Decriminalising it would not improve the situation or address it. We are already dealing with an unusually high number of schizophrenics, drug-induced depressives and substance abusers on permanent disability benefit. Add to that the dope smokers who go on to needles and the large cost of dealing with consequent hepatitis (hundreds of millions). I have been attacked three times in my life, and all three were by dope smokers. You don’t get that by drinking a cup of tea,” he wrote on MSN NZ.
A spokesman from a New Plymouth organisation that deals with mental health, Like Minds, called Brash’s comments “dopey”.
“I think he is way off the mark,” Gordon Hudson told media.
“There is clear evidence of a strong link between cannabis use and mental health – certainly among first psychosis or psychotic episodes among young people.”
A press release from NORML NZ earlier this year stated the New Zealand public needed to have its confidence restored in the police and the quickest way for that to happen was to stop criminalising cannabis.
“The continued criminalisation of cannabis in New Zealand means police spend more than $100 million every year focusing on unimportant crime, at the expense of solving crime that matters,” NORML NZ President Stephen McIntyre said.
“What would be a better use of police time: arresting people for cannabis or dealing with burglaries, domestic abuse and drunken brawls?”