Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Green Party to push for cannabis decriminalisation

Decriminalisation has started to catch on in the US, with purchasing pot for recreational purposes now legal in Colorado. Photo / AP
Decriminalisation has started to catch on in the US, with purchasing pot for recreational purposes now legal in Colorado. Photo / AP

The Green Party says it will push for decriminalising marijuana during any post-election negotiations with Labour - but also made it clear it was not a do-or-die bottom line.

Speaking after announcing an education policy for low-decile schools, co-leader Metiria Turei said the party still had its policy to decriminalise cannabis and it was one that she would like to see progress.

"I would like to progress a vast amount of our policy, and that would be one. We believe a drug-free lifestyle is the healthiest, but we don't believe people should be convicted of a crime, adults, if they smoke cannabis. So we still consider de-criminalisation is the wisest policy."

Her co-leader, Russel Norman, also said it should be on the table. "Decriminalisation is long-standing Green Party policy, there has been movement on it internationally as well as domestically and it will be on the table in any post-election negotiation, like our other policies."

Ms Turei said the Law Commission had provided a model for decriminalisation and there were changes in other countries, including the US.

Labour leader David Cunliffe has consistently refused to give his view on
decriminalisation. Labour's caucus has varying views on the issue, which it considers a conscience vote issue, and it will be concerned raising it as a possibility will give its opponents room to scaremonger about a future coalition with the Green Party.

However, Ms Turei indicated it would not be a policy the Greens would fight to the death over, at least in the short term. She said the party had no bottom lines, and her priority was inequality and getting children out of poverty and addressing inequality.

During her speech, Ms Turei set out Green Party policy to set up 'hubs' in low decile schools, as well as provide a free lunch programme, dedicated school nurses in each school and free after school care programmes.

Ms Turei told the audience at the annual 'Picnic of the Planet' event in Wellington that the Green Party could no longer be described as a 'fringe' party and it was ready to govern. Although compromise was needed, she said it would not compromise on its values.

- NZ Herald

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