Ninety per cent of New Zealanders support decriminalisation of medical cannabis, says Drug Foundation

Nearly half of all New Zealanders would support legalising the sale of cannabis, a new poll backed by the Drug Foundation has revealed.

The Drug Foundation’s Ross Bell spoke to Breakfast about the results today. Source: Breakfast

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell spoke to TVNZ 1's Breakfast about the poll, which is in its third consecutive year.

The poll is backed by the Drug Foundation, which also found a majority of Kiwis want growing cannabis for personal use decriminalised. Source: Breakfast

"What we've seen over the last three years is that support for cannabis law reform has been increasing over time," Mr Bell said.

"We have two-thirds of New Zealanders would support the decriminalisation or legalisation of cannabis; people would also support it to grow their own; and there's massive support - about 90 per cent of New Zealanders - want cannabis legalised for medical use for people with terminal illness or people who are in pain."

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

Mr Bell said there are issues surrounding its legalisation, however, as "parliament's considering a government bill which doesn't quite do those things around medical cannabis".

"I think the message there to parliamentarians is that the public expect more."

Mr Bell said parliament should "absolutely" make a more comprehensive bill surrounding cannabis for medical use.

"At the moment, the government's bill only provides a defence for the patients with a terminal illness, and that doesn't provide that defence for medical cannabis to other illnesses - people in pain, cancer pain and so on."

He also said the government's punitive approach to recreational cannabis use was not addressing existing concerns surrounding use of the drug.

"Yes, there are real issues around the health harms of cannabis, particularly among young people and people who use cannabis heavily, but we have to remember that that is happening right now under our prohibition and punishment approach.

"New Zealanders still have really high rates of cannabis use, and there are real harms from that. Our current government is not dealing with those harms."

The government has promised to hold a referendum on the matter before the next election.