Israel Adesanya has called for a change to New Zealand's "backwards" cannabis law ahead of this September's referendum on the drug's legalisation.

The Kiwi UFC champion has made no secret of his use of marijuana and unapologetically posts about it on his social media accounts.

Adesanya says he believes cannabis has been victim to generations of misinformation and "propaganda".

"Everyone knows I smoke," Adesanya told Newshub. "Everyone knows I partake in the plant.

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"I remember going for a walk with my dog and I counted three liquor stores within a three-block radius, and maybe five or six other bars.

"You can go into any of those places, get blatantly drunk, and get into your car, drive and crash - and that happens every week.

"So, what's wrong with someone growing a plant that makes them happy, a little bit more relaxed, more sensitive to their feeling, more aware and alert, depending on the strain?"

The New Zealand public will be able to vote for the legalisation and regulation of cannabis in this year's referendum, which will be conducted alongside the general election.

Adesanya believes taxing cannabis would be a good way of regulating it.

"What's wrong with taxing it?," he said. "It's just propaganda that's been passed down through generations and frankly, I'm sick of it."

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Cannabis has also been a hot topic at the UFC, where "in-competition" use is banned by the US anti-doping agency.

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Several athletes have been suspended because of positive tests, including Adesanya's former opponent Kelvin Gastelum who was handed a backdated nine-month suspension after a positive test from a fight in November last year.

"I don't think it should be banned," Adesanya said. "Just be smart about it – in moderation with everything.

"I wouldn't advise fighting while you're high, but I wouldn't advise fighting drunk either, unless you're Jackie Chan in Drunken Master."

Thanks to the legalisation of recreational cannabis in 11 states in America, the stigma of its use has decreased in the UFC and the country in general.

The 30-year-old middleweight believes it's about time New Zealand followed suit.

"I post it on my [Instagram] story and stuff when I smoke … imagine if I got arrested right now for something like that?

"Oh, Israel had a joint on him so we had to lock him up in a cage. How stupid would New Zealand look?

"It's so backwards and it's frustrating sometimes, but frankly, I don't care."