Cannabis party still on the hustings 21 years later

August 29, 2017

Cannabis party still on the hustings 21 years later

The ALCP says New Zealand is still dragging its heels on cannabis issues. Photo: CC0

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party - a stalwart in New Zealand politics since 1996 - isn't predicting marijuana law reform for New Zealand any time soon.

Twenty-one years on, ALCP co-leader Jeff Lye says cannabis reform is possible but “we’re still dragging our feet”.

Some states in the US and even Canada are making large strides towards legalising recreational cannabis, but in New Zealand it is still illegal even for medicinal reasons.

Mr Lye says he has no idea why New Zealand is so far behind on the issue.

“If you look at what can actually be achieved by legalising cannabis - stop wasting hundreds and millions of dollars on law enforcement for a start.

“Then you've got the hemp industry and how much money can be generated.

“So once you stop spending ridiculous amounts and generating money, it's like having our own money mint.”

Mr Lye, who has himself used cannabis medicinally in the past, says cannabis should be a health issue not a criminal one.

“People that I know that are using cannabis on medicinal grounds and no other reason . . . they've told me they feel the benefits and they don't really care about the current law.

“I'm talking about cancer patients, people that prefer to use cannabis or [cannabis] oils as a medicine, rather than chemotherapy. And then you've got the other ones that smoke cannabis after they've had chemo to get rid of all the nasty side effects.

“They're classed as criminals and lawbreakers but they know in themselves that they're actually bettering their lives.”

Changes in cannabis laws may also deter people from using synthetics, says Mr Lye.

“We really do not like the term synthetic cannabis . . . it's nothing like cannabis and it never will be.

“People that I actually know that smoke synthetics or people I've talked to that smoke them, they mainly smoke it because they pass drug tests at work.

“So if you're gonna legalise cannabis, we have to look at this drug testing we have at work because we know cannabis stays in the system a lot longer than anything else. You can have a smoke on Friday night and fail a drug test at work on Monday and that's really unfair.”

When it comes to this election, more parties are talking about cannabis reform but Mr Lye thinks it’s not a priority for any of them and is just a way to steal votes.

“We don't actually have other policies as such, we just know what can be achieved by just this one simple policy that all the other political parties are talking about now, except National of course, but none of them will act on it.

“You can't leave it up to the Greens because I don't think it will be a priority and you can't leave it to National or Labour because it will never be a priority.”

According to the party’s website, the Cannabis Party is the only party that has stood for Parliament in every general election and by-election since MMP began in New Zealand, back in 1996. The party will be standing again in this year’s general election.

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