Police Minister Stuart Nash says he would "probably" vote for decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use if MPs were given a conscience vote on the issue.

"It'll be a conscience vote so I'll vote the way that my conscience feels. Decriminalisation, I would probably vote for it," Nash told Newstalk ZB this morning.

"The thing with this ... as the Minister of Police, I look at this a lot. Marijuana isn't the issue we've got in our society at the moment, it's methamphetamine. That's the one we've got to go hard on."

Nash said he hadn't made up his mind but would look at all the evidence before deciding.


"If it comes down to a referendum ... if it means legislation goes into the House then MPs have a conscience vote and I'll make a decision at that point in time," he told Mike Hosking.

The Government is planning a referendum on personal use of cannabis before or at the next election. Justice Minister Andrew Little is expected to take a paper to Cabinet in the next few months.

The issue of cannabis use is back in the spotlight following a poll by the NZ Drug Foundation this week which shows support to decriminalise or legalise cannabis for the use of pain relief has increased from 78 per cent last year to 87 per cent this year.

National announced yesterday it would pull its support for a separate Government bill to allow those with terminal conditions to access medicinal marijuana and instead put up its own "more comprehensive" bill on the issue.

The select committee considering the Government's bill is due to report back on it today.

National supported it at first reading and had said its ongoing support was dependent on what changes were made in select committee.

But National leader Simon Bridges said the party had now decided to pull its support for the bill and developed its own measure, which he said would set out a more comprehensive and well researched regime for the use of medicinal cannabis.

"National supports greater access to high quality medicinal cannabis products to ease people's suffering but we must have the right regulatory and legislative controls in place.
Among other things, our bill is going to make clear who can buy medicinal cannabis, who can sell it, and exactly how that will work."


That will be put into the members' bill ballot in the name of National MP Shane Reti, a doctor who developed the bill. However, there is no guarantee it will ever be considered by Parliament because member's bills are chosen by the luck of the draw.

It will include a regulatory and legislative regime to set out who is eligible and who can dispense marijuana for medicinal purposes.