Le­galise cannabis for medic­i­nal uses

North Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - DANIELLE CLENT

Can­di­dates vy­ing to be He­lensville’s new MP agree on one thing - cannabis should be ac­ces­si­ble for medic­i­nal pur­poses.

Na­tional Party can­di­date Christo­pher Penk says the party was de­vel­op­ing guide­lines for cannabis to be ac­ces­si­ble for med­i­cal rea­sons, much like the Green Party’s pol­icy.

The is­sue was not a pri­or­ity for the party, but Labour’s can­di­date Kurt Tao­gaga says he was per­son­ally in favour of le­gal­is­ing cannabis for medic­i­nal use.

‘‘I think the stud­ies have shown that there are a lot of ben­e­fits in terms of pain re­lief and in terms of qual­ity of life that we can ben­e­fit from,’’ he says.

Tao­gaga says peo­ple in the north-west could ben­e­fit on a small scale by sup­ply­ing medic­i­nal cannabis to the market, not­ing there were glasshouse op­er­a­tions al­ready along State High­way 16.

He says it could open up an­other in­dus­try for peo­ple in the north-west.

En­tre­pre­neur Sir Richard Bran­son says, dur­ing his re­cent visit to New Zealand, farm­ers could re­place cows with cannabis if it was le­gal in New Zealand.

In re­sponse, Tao­gaga says ‘‘in some small way he is ac­tu­ally on to some­thing’’.

Green Party can­di­date Hay­ley Holt says the party would not want to see large crops grown in the north-west as it would be­come a dan­ger.

‘‘I think cul­ti­va­tion for per­sonal use would be one or two plants at your home in a pot plant.

‘‘Un­til we in­tro­duce a le­gal market, rules and reg­u­la­tions around that, we can’t put any pol­icy around grow­ing crops,’’ she says.

Penk says he is more con­cerned with the harm cannabis could cause rather than any eco­nomic ben­e­fits it may cre­ate for the north-west.

‘‘[It’s] not re­ally a good sense of pri­or­ity to be hap­pily throw­ing the chil­dren of the north-west un­der the bus for the sake of eco­nomic ben­e­fits.’’

Penk said while cam­paign­ing no-one had come up to him and said le­gal­is­ing cannabis was some­thing they were in­ter­ested in him look­ing into. They were more in­ter­ested in ‘‘pos­i­tive op­tions’’ in­clud­ing good ed­u­ca­tion in the area.

Holt, who said she had smoked cannabis in the past, said the Green Party had dis­cussed le­gal­is­ing cannabis for recre­ational use with an age re­stric­tion.

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