NZ Herald 15 May 2014
Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse says it is time to decriminalise natural cannabis because it is safer than the synthetic versions that were banned last week.
The veteran councillor and former industrial laboratory technician said she had always opposed decriminalisation, but changed her mind after reading scientific papers about the dangers of synthetic cannabis.
Yesterday, she told an Auckland Council committee drawing up a policy on “legal highs” that it made no sense to regulate when synthetic cannabis could be sold without considering safer alternatives.
“I think we need to take a deep breath in this conversation and say, ‘What are we trying to achieve? Are we going to deal with the issue that people are going to make choices to smoke things that get them stoned? Have we been able to stop people doing that?’ Absolutely we haven’t.”
Ms Hulse stressed she was speaking personally and not for the council.
Mayor Len Brown said through a spokesman that he welcomed last week’s ban on synthetic cannabis but also supported the status quo, which bans natural cannabis.
“He is comfortable with the fact that Penny has a view of it,” the spokesman said.