Penny Hulse isn’t a fan of marijuana, and she was never a fan of marijuana decriminalization or legalization in New Zealand. Until now, that is.
New Zealand outlawed synthetic smokable drugs commonly mislabeled as “synthetic cannabis” last week mostly out of a growing public health concern for the often-untested chemicals that have left people sick and hospitalized. People often turn to these drugs because they can’t be detected on drug tests, unlike marijuana. The ban was pushed by a coalition of mayors from the southern part of the country.
But as Hulse points out, the marijuana that these chemists are trying to mimic is actually a much safer substance.
“When you look at the comparison between organic marijuana and synthesised legal highs, all the scientific evidence I’ve read leads me to believe that cannabis, although damaging and concerning, is a less toxic choice,” Hulse said. She went on to say that the government is considering regulating the legal highs from synthetic drugs and that they really need to be considering legalizing the real thing.
Hulse says that discussions on legalization – or at the least decriminalization – need to be happening.
“We’re really concerned that this has now pushed the entire issue underground, for the time being,” she said, according to Radio New Zealand. “At least we had a window of trying to work with our community to prevent drug use … we now don’t have that opportunity. The bit we’re missing now is people think the issue has disappeared, it certainly hasn’t, it’s gone underground. People will continue to find ways of finding something to get them stoned.”