Legalising marijuana will 'ironically' control it better - Chloe Swarbrick

Breakfast 19/12/2018
Photo: Unsplash.

A regulated cannabis market will help control the substance and minimise its harmful effects, according to Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.

The Government will hold a referendum on personal cannabis use at the 2020 general election - and it will be binding.

Ms Swarbrick, who’s long been vocal in her support for legalisation, told RadioLIVE that sticking with the status quo will continue to keep cannabis in the wrong hands.

"The irony is an illegal drug is exactly the opposite of a controlled drug. We have zero control over this substance," she said.

A controlled market could actually reduce consumption, argues Ms Swarbrick, in allowing Government to learn who is using it and targeting those groups with educational campaigns.

She argues that a controlled market will also help take cannabis away from sellers who profit from vulnerable drug users.

The cannabis referendum was a key negotiation issue for the Green Party in the last election, and were promised the referendum would happen at or before the next general election.

The Greens favour legislation for legalising cannabis prior to the vote in order to prevent the future Government from stretching out the timeframe for legalisation and ensuring the public have a clear idea of what a "yes" vote actually means.

When asked by Carly Flynn how parents should approach the subject, Ms Swarbrick says it's simply an honest conversation like any other tough topic.

"I guess it’s the same as what you say to your 15-year-old about sex. What do you say your 15-year-old about alcohol?"

Ms Swarbrick suggests a controlled market would allow parents to have an open discussion with their children on the effects of cannabis, as opposed to "the status quo" where it remains a taboo subject.

"We have to bring the problems out of the shadows and into the light," said Ms Swarbrick.

National Party leader Simon Bridges says he doesn't mind that the 2020 referendum is binding, but plans to vote against legalisation.

He says he hasn't smoked marijuana at any point in his life.