'It doesn't matter what I support' - Winston Peters remains tight-lipped about personal opinion on legalising cannabis

Despite his own four decade stint in Parliament, Winston Peters has this morning argued "temporary empowered politicians" should not decide cannabis legalisation, and he's keeping tight-lipped with his personal views on this issue.

Mr Peters did say, however, the people of New Zealand should make the final decision. Source: Breakfast

The Acting Prime Minister said for the last 20 years his stance on cannabis law reform, including decriminalisation and potential regulation of its sale, has been in support of a national referendum.

"It doesn't matter what I support. What I support is a more meaningful democracy where the people get to decide these issues, not politicians who are not here for long in the main anyway, but decided by the people of this country after properly organised, lengthy debate on the merits, and the pros and cons, of the issue," Mr Peters said.

When pressed on whether cannabis prohibition does more harm than good, Mr Peters conceded evidence suggested it did, but that this was not the whole story.

"There's a lot of evidence to suggest it's (prohibition) doing a lot of harm, yes, but then there's a lot of evidence to suggest its use is doing a lot of harm as well," Mr Peters said.

"In the end we've got to balance up the pros and cons as I say, and let the people decide what they think is fair and reasonable."

The NZ First leader was also unwilling to provide any clarity about what specific reform to cannabis law should be raised in a referendum - whether there should just be a decriminalisation of personal use of the drug, or whether the state should regulate cannabis sale. 

Mr Peters said if a referendum does occur, it should comprise of a single question that clearly defines the law change proposed, and not a series of options for different possible cannabis law alterations.

"You've got to probably have a referendum where the issue is easily understood and where the public steer from the result of the referendum is very clear," he said.

"It's very hard to answer all these questions in that context because you could have and A, B, C, D type of question but that would seriously complicate the matter and might confuse the public.

"We should see what it is on the question of legality, or the future law we should decide, make the question fit that and then put it to the people of this country."

Mr Peters said a "small team" of politically unbiased people who understand the democratic requirements for framing a clear question could be in charge of the referendum, such as the electoral commission.