The Dominion Post 2 November 2007
New Zealanders have made a U-turn on relaxing cannabis laws, with only one in five people now supporting liberalisation. Research issued yesterday by the Drug Foundation shows that just 19 per cent want cannabis laws liberalised, down from 60 per cent in 2000. A parliamentary select committee is considering the drug’s legal status. At present, its use is banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The UMR Research study shows 46 per cent of the population want no change to cannabis laws, and 34 per cent want laws to be made tougher. Wellington scored highest, with 55 per cent of people polled wanting existing laws to remain.Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said that as statistics indicated more than half of New Zealanders had tried cannabis, and one in eight regularly used the drug, it was time to re-examine the issue. “Politicians are happy to spend a lot of time on party pills and P because they know they have the public onside. They don’t want to talk about cannabis, because it’s not seen as a vote-winning issue.” He said there were numerous issues relating to cannabis use that needed serious consideration,including the effects on health of smoking the drug, links with mental illness, high use by school pupils, medicinal use and driving under the influence of cannabis.