A rift has opened between ACT leader Don Brash and his most important election candidate over the decriminalisation of marijuana.
Dr Brash on Sunday suggested marijuana should be decriminalised, saying it was a relatively harmless drug and prohibition was ineffective and expensive.
ACT has previously run a tough anti-drugs policy and his comments surprised other parties.
They also appear to have surprised John Banks, a former police minister in the National government, who is ACT’s candidate in Epsom – currently held by former ACT leader Rodney Hide – and has to win it to ensure the party stays in Parliament.
“I’ve always been opposed to drugs and I always will be opposed to drugs,” Mr Banks said on Radio New Zealand.
“It isn’t party policy and I can’t see myself walking into Parliament to support the Greens in decriminalising marijuana.”
Worth noting that this is absolutely consistent with Brash’s behaviour as National leader. He’d decide to make a speech about something, email a bunch of his friends and ask them for ideas on the subject, and then he’d announce their suggestions as party policy in his speech, scaring the hell out of the rest of the National Party, a dynamic that led to Brash sacking his Welfare and Maori Affairs Shadow-Ministers.
Brash can’t sack Banks, obviously, and I now hope that ACT gets enough of the vote for a Brash/Banks parliamentary party.