Deputy leader of the New Zealand National Party Paula Bennett set parliament ablaze (figuratively speaking) when she produced what appeared to be a 14-gram baggie of weed during a debate on legalization.
"Does she think it promotes the wellbeing of New Zealanders when under her government's legislation people will be able to purchase up to 14 grams a day of weed," Bennett asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, holding up what later emerged to be a bag of dried oregano, to audible mocking laughter from her fellow MPs.
The proposed 14-gram-a-day cannabis purchase limit is a hot topic ahead of the referendum being held alongside the country’s 2020 general election.
"I think it's far too much," Minister for Children Tracey Martin said.
"I've heard it's about 40-odd [joints], it's huge... it's an enormous number," National MP Brett Hudson estimated, while Labour MP Kiri Allen guessed the quantity was closer to 20 joints.
After MPs continuously shouted over the prime minister during her response, Speaker Trevor Mallard told the erupting house floor to “chill out,” sparking yet more giddy laughter.
Ardern eventually responded to Bennett’s criticisms of the proposed limit by arguing that it would constitute half the daily limit for Canadians and Americans who can legally purchase cannabis in their own countries.
Minister of Justice Andrew Little, who proposed the bill, asked for members of the opposition to find him a single person who has “smoked 42 joints in a day” and only then would he take the criticism seriously.
Comments online ranged from derision to outright disgust at both Bennett and her stunt, with some describing her as "an openly cruel freak who hates poor people,” and accusing her of "concern trolling."
She was also fiercely criticized for her stance, which many argued helped to fund criminal gangs through criminalization of weed.
If Paula Bennett thinks I've got time to go weed shopping *every day*, she doesn't understand the life of a hard-working everyday New Zealander. https://t.co/SbPmyVXllm— Max Johns (@MxDEJ) December 4, 2019
FFS Paula, let's just legalise it, put the politics aside and make it happen.— Hamish Waugh (@Mishahesa) December 4, 2019
Paula Bennett thinks being able to legally buy a wee baggie of quality-approved, safe weed from licenced outlets is a bad thing.She prefers people to continue buying however much they want illegally from gangs.Genius. She and Bridges are the gangs' best friends in Parliament. https://t.co/JG0E0BcN1w— Clint Smith (@ClintVSmith) December 4, 2019
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!