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27-Aug-2017 05:18

Dunne thinks so and is promoting the Portugal model, which doesn't prosecute people who are caught with 10 days of marijuana supply - instead referring them to mandatory health treatment.

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The model is a bit like diversion and while Dunne says 10 days is probably too lenient.

In 1984 the same hall hosted the great marijuana debate, but three decades later and that same momentum that came from homosexual law reform has never really kicked in. Dunne questions whether that's because of a "lack of credible champions".

"I think the people who have promoted cannabis law reform over the years have been seen as people wanting it for their own purposes, rather than a sort of more detached health or social justice issue."In the case of homosexual law reform, was there a greater case for justice?

Canada's federal government introduced legislation in April with a goal of legalising and regulating the use of recreational marijuana by July 2018.

While Dunne says everyone is looking to Canada closely, it's not entirely clear where their policy will end up yet."[Canadian Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau is saying one thing, his bureaucracy is struggling to catch up and the officials are trying to work out what it all means."If New Zealand moved to a regulated market then you could certainly tax cannabis further down the track, but Dunne is wary of saying, "well we could raise money from this, so let's do it"."Having said that, I think it's worth noting there is some potential to gain some revenue from this and the government would be somewhat foolish if it didn't do so when it got to that space."So, is New Zealand ready to take the next step to decriminalisation or even legalisation?

"If countries aren't buying the argument, they're buying the language," Dunne says.