Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders, including people she will like and respect, use cannabis regularly.

The so called "frightening" statistic in her article, that 9 per cent to 14 per cent of New Zealand and Australian citizens use cannabis, is neither alarming nor unknown.

In fact the Ministry of Health, police and others interested have known for years that not only do Kiwis like a drop, we also like a smoke.


In 2006 and 2008 the Law Commission and the Ministry of Health reported surveys, each
showing one in seven adult New Zealanders was a regular cannabis user. Results from a
similar survey conducted last year will be released in October.

Public opinion surveys in recent years have shown majority support for legalisation and/or decriminalisation: 2011: 59 per cent, 2013: 63 per cent, 2014: 52 per cent and 84 per cent.

We Kiwis do use cannabis more than others.

It's a pleasant, relatively cheap drug, widely available because of ideal outdoor growing conditions (and a rocketing indoor crop), and because our isolation makes it costly and less easy for dealers to establish a sizeable market in the harder drugs that are more popular and available in Europe, the Americas and elsewhere.

The issue here is simply one of human rights.

We have a situation where people are barred from choosing to use a mild intoxicant within a community which has a highly sophisticated system for the legal delivery and enjoyment of a major intoxicant, alcohol.

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Cannabis-reform advocates don't want to attack alcohol, we like a drink too, but we'd prefer not to break the law when we choose to smoke.

The sensible way to deal with that is to change the law to bring it into line with how people behave and what they believe.

There is every reason why we should change our law to reflect the world's growing understanding that a real ongoing crime was committed from about 90 years ago. It was
the political crime of turning millions of ordinary individual people around the world into
instant criminals because they had a joint.

As with Ms Quill, I'm a parent and what worries me is not a regulated adults-only market for cannabis, but our lax attitude to alcohol.

Cannabis is a mellow intoxicant, alcohol can be unruly and violent. I have yet to hear of a murder committed in a cannabis-induced rage.

And the Crown research institute, ESR, has found that drivers responsible for car crashes are 10 times more likely to have used alcohol than cannabis and "there was only a
weak association between cannabis use and culpability".

It is naive or misleading to worry about links between cannabis and guns. Some growers of illegal but valuable crops of cannabis feel the need to protect their investment and
own guns.

That's why the police find guns. But if we treat cannabis as a legal, regulated, adult product,where adult personal possession is a right and where medical cannabis products are available, the crime disappears. No more guns and one major product removed from the gangs.

Another article could be written about the need for a more evidence-based system in
New Zealand to trial here and accept overseas trials of medical marijuana.

Desperate parents and patients are using cannabis based products as a last resort in
trying to find relief from crippling ailments, afraid all the time that they are being forced
to break the law.

The Rotorua Daily Post itself has reported on the sad case of 6-year-old Zoe Jeffries who could be helped by medicinal cannabis.

There are people like her all over New Zealand, but the Government does not just have to rely on compassion to change its policy.

Allowing the medical prescription of marijuana-based products can be justified immediately by fact-based research. Medical marijuana products are prescribed and sold legally around the world.

In New Zealand even the Medical Association and the Commissioner for Children are calling for trials.

People can be forgiven for fearing change, but change is our reality.

Society changes gradually around us as we do individually, to different degrees and in different ways.

Society is now changing towards an overwhelming acceptance that cannabis is medically beneficial, recreationally acceptable and industrially (hemp) valuable.

- Andrew Gregory of Wellington is a former journalist who supports cannabis law reform.