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May 4, 2014 | by  | in Features Online Only |
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MP’s Questions

QUESTIONS
1. Have you ever smoked marijuana? Y/N
2. What changes do you support to drug law in NZ? (Explain your answer in three sentences or fewer.)

We asked 121 MPs.
Of the 22 who responded,
14 answered ‘Yes’,
7 ‘No’,
And 1 didn’t really answer at all.
99 never got back to us.

HOW THEY RESPONDED

CHESTER BURROWS (NATIONAL)
1. I have never smoked marijuana/cannabis.
2. I don’t support any decriminalisation because I have seen too much devastation to lives from the use of cannabis. This is not damage from ‘criminalisation’ but actual use. Damage was inflicted vicariously on children and families of users.

PETER DUNNE (UNITED FUTURE)
1. Yes
2. The Psychoactive Substances Act and the review of the Misuse of Drugs Act I am undertaking at present.

DAVID PARKER (LABOUR)
1. Yes.
2. No plans to change our drug laws. I am more concerned about fairness, rising inequality and the changes needed to make New Zealand a prosperous and sustainable country.

IAN McKELVIE (NATIONAL)
1. No
2. NP

CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (NATIONAL)
1. No
2. NP

BRENDAN HORAN (INDEPENDENT)
1. ?
2. I’m relaxed about people smoking Cannabis in their own home, but staunchly against synthetic cannaboids. The problem with all drugs is people working or driving under the influence. So I’m for pretty strict drug laws which may not go down so well with your readers. I have a close relative who died of an accidental OD and another one that stepped in front of a train.

PAUL FOSTER-BELL (NATIONAL)
1. No. Marijuana is a harmful drug with intellectually impairing effects so why would I want to use it?

Rumour has it that Paul has the most well-stocked liquor cabinet in all of parliament.

PHIL TWYFORD (LABOUR)
1. Yes.
2. Labour broadly supports the recommendations of the Law Commission report Controlling and regulating drugs: A review of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Labour in Government will publish a full response to the report, something National has failed to do, and we will replace the Misuse of Drugs Act with modern legislation based on the Law Commission recommendations.

DR RAJEN PRASAD (LABOUR)
1. I have never smoked marijuana.
2. I support the recommendations of the Law Commission.  They have done a thorough review.  They are the credible body.

ANNETTE KING (LABOUR)
1. Yes
2. Labour broadly supports the recommendations of the Law Commission report Controlling and regulating drugs: A review of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Labour in Government will publish a full response to the report, something National has failed to do, and we will replace the Misuse of Drugs Act with modern legislation based on the Law Commission recommendations.

Regarding legalising or decriminalising marijuana specifically, Labour treats this as a conscience vote.

LOUISA WALL (LABOUR)
1. Yes
2. In 2011 the New Zealand Law Commission released a report “Controlling and Regulating Drugs – A Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975″ which stated:

“Given the strong belief of those who already use cannabis for medicinal purposes that it is an effective form of pain relief with fewer harmful side effects than other legally available drugs, we think that the proper moral position is to promote clinical trials as soon as practicable. We recommend that the Government consider doing this. In the meantime, while trials are being conducted, we think that it would be appropriate for the police to adopt a policy of not prosecuting in cases where they are satisfied that cannabis use is directed towards pain relief or managing the symptoms of chronic or debilitating illness.”

To that end, and as a member of the Health select committee that in August 2013 heard the petition of William Joseph Rea, requesting that the House give urgent attention to the Law Commission’s recommendations regarding medical cannabis use and legislate to decriminalise cannabis use for pain relief or managing symptoms of chronic illness, allow doctors to prescribe cannabis, and allow clinical trials, I wholeheartedly support this Law Commission recommendation.

POTO WILLIAMS (LABOUR)
1. Yes
2. I support (as does the party) looking at implementing the recommendations of the law Commission.

IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (LABOUR)
1. Yes.
2. Labour broadly supports the recommendations of the Law Commission report Controlling and regulating drugs: A review of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Labour in Government will publish a full response to the report, something National has failed to do, and we will replace the Misuse of Drugs Act with modern legislation based on the Law Commission recommendations. Personally, I believe cannabis and some other class C drugs should be regulated under the Psychoactive Substances Act so that their legal status can be determined by scientific assessment not politics.

DAVID CUNLIFFE (LABOUR)
1. I tried it a couple of times as a student.
2. Labour broadly supports the recommendations of the Law Commission report Controlling and regulating drugs: A review of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Labour in Government will publish a full response to the report, something National has failed to do, and we will replace the Misuse of Drugs Act with modern legislation based on the Law Commission recommendations.

Labour treats the legalisation or decriminalisation of marijuana as a conscience vote. I do not feel that Parliament has the will to change the law at the present time.

NANAIA MAHUTA (LABOUR)
1. Have you ever smoked marijuana? Y
2. What changes do you support to drug law in NZ? (explain your answer in three sentences or fewer)

STEVEN JOYCE (NATIONAL)
1. No

ANDREW LITTLE (LABOUR)
1. Yes
2. All mind-altering drugs need to be regulated consistently, including alcohol. The issue should be treated as a health issue, not a conscience issue. Proper regulation will recognise that use of drugs, including alcohol, at an age when the brain is not fully developed is more harmful than at an older age.

TE URURUA FLAVELL (MAORI)
1. I am not and have never been a smoker of anything so you will understand that when I tried a joint I threw up!
2. I have seen and heard first-hand the damaging effects of synthetic drugs, so a change to drug law I would support is the banning of synthetic drugs

JOHN KEY (NATIONAL): Didn’t respond to us, but was probably never cool enough to be invited to parties where drugs were present anyway.

PARTIES’ STANCES ON DRUGS

NATIONAL PARTY ANSWER
The National-led Government has no plans to change the current law around marijuana use, or any other drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

In other words: National has no plans to change a 40-year-old law which is in dire need of updating.

GREEN PARTY ANSWER
New Zealand’s drug law should be focussed on reducing harm, and be based on evidence. A drug-free lifestyle is the best way to reduce harm and should be promoted, but we recognise that the vast majority of New Zealanders use recreational drugs of some sort. We think that all of these drugs should be treated consistently by the law, with the amount of regulation being proportional to the harm that substance causes.

That is essentially the position that the Law Commission also came to when it reviewed New Zealand’s drug laws. It balances society’s responsibility to protect citizens with those citizens’ right to make choices about their own behaviour that carry some risk.

While it is widely recognised that cannabis use does carry some health risks, most experts would also agree that those health risks are significantly lower than those posed by alcohol. Furthermore, the current approach to cannabis is a complete failure: with around half the New Zealand population having used cannabis, the law is clearly failing to achieve its objective, while simultaneously acting as a barrier to accessing health services, tying up a large amount of Police, Justice and Corrections resource, and arguably causing more harm than the drug use itself.

LABOUR PARTY ANSWER
Labour broadly supports the recommendations of the Law Commission report Controlling and Regulating Drugs: A Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. Labour in government will publish a full response to the report, something National has failed to do, and we will replace the Misuse of Drugs Act with modern legislation based on the Law Commission recommendations.

Labour treats the legalisation or decriminalisation of marijuana as a conscience vote. I do not feel that Parliament has the will to change the law at the present time.

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