Viewpoint – Cannabis a hot issue

The most recent parliamentary recess has given me three weeks of uninterrupted time in the electorate, which I have really enjoyed. I have been busy running clinic days and attending community events.

One of the highlights was the Generation Homes Rotary Swimarathon at Stanmore Bay Pool and Leisure Centre, which raised money for the Orewa Surf Lifesaving Club, Red Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, Orewa Sea Scouts and Coastguard Hibiscus. There was a huge turnout and massive support from the community (HM July 17). I would just like to thank and acknowledge the Rotarians and all those who supported them for helping put on this fantastic community event.

I did nip back to Parliament to see our Youth MP, William Patterson, and watch him deliver his general debate speech on the subject of bullying at the annual Youth Parliament.

William is Deputy Head Boy at Mahurangi College and already deeply involved in our community. I was proud to be there to support him and he is doing a great job as our Youth MP.

Looking ahead to 2020, New Zealanders will be asked to vote on whether they think loose-leaf cannabis should be legalised. I support cannabis based medical and pharmaceutical products to manage pain, but am strongly opposed to the legalisation, decriminalisation or liberalisation of our drug laws as they relate to loose-leaf cannabis.

Evidence shows that cannabis is detrimental for brain development in young people and warns that regular use increases the risk of developing depression, psychosis and schizophrenia. If we are going to reform our drug laws, it needs to be done through a robust process of public consultation, select committee deliberations, expert evidence and debate.

Our communities need to be 100 percent aware of what they are voting for. At the time of writing, the Government is refusing to introduce a Bill to the House before the referendum which means Kiwis have no idea what they are voting for.

How can you make a decision on such an important issue when you don’t know what the final legislation is going to allow? I will keep pressing the Government to make sure that before you vote in the referendum, you will have a clear understanding of the impact of this legislation.