The outgoing boss of the New Zealand Police Association says a tour of cannabis-friendly countries was an eye-opener, but hasn't convinced him that New Zealand should follow suit.
Greg O'Connor spent time travelling through Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and Colorado, in the United States, seeing firsthand the effects of both decriminalisation and legalisation of cannabis. He says while it hasn't inspired him to change his stance on the issue, it's given him a much greater understanding of the issues.
While O'Connor remains cautious in his approach to the relaxing of cannabis laws in New Zealand, he says the government has a responsibility to address the issue as a whole. "If there is going to be a change, a liberalisation, then I believe you need to address the supply side at the same time, as well as the consumer side. "For example, if we decriminalise it, there will be a lot more cannabis smoked so that means it's got to come from somewhere and the only place it can come from is criminal sources." he said.
That's where a recent trip to Colorado has been beneficial, providing an example of the effects of cannabis legalisation, rather than decriminalisation. "Colorado is the model, I'm not saying it's better or worse, but it's the only place I've gone to where it's legal from seed to weed as they say."
O'Connor finishes up his Police Association presidency in late October, a role he says he'll miss. "It's nice to be able to add to the debate and be well informed because there are so many people participating who don't really know the full story and they come at it from their own angle"
The government's National Drug Policy which includes a review of some offences and penalties in the Misuse of Drugs Act will begin in 2017.
27 August 2016
Photo: KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ