The Green Party said it was time for politicians to start walking in talks about drug policies and decriminalizing drug use so that users could access health services without fear of the law.
But with New Zealand First saying that such problems must be brought to New Zealand in a referendum, drug legal reform is unlikely to occur.
An independent report on drug policy, released today, said that the harm reduction approach and regulated legal marijuana sales would see up to half a billion dollars a year in social benefits and tax revenues.
It looks at the costs and benefits of implementing the policy of the NZ Medicines Foundation, which wants to decriminalize the use and ownership of all illegal drugs, legalize and regulate marijuana, and improve care services.
The report said the decriminalization of all drug use would see savings of $ 34 million to $ 83 million per year, mainly through reducing criminal justice costs ($ 27 million to $ 46 million per year).
At least $ 225 million in social benefits – such as better results for people who avoid faith – will come from an investment of an additional $ 150 million in addiction treatment, while the regulatory framework for legalizing cannabis will get $ 185 million to $ 240 million in revenue tax.
Green Party drug law reform spokesman Chloe Swarbrick called on Parliament to act immediately, noting the death of a man from synthetic marijuana in Napier last week.
"This report supports the case for the elimination of effective criminalization for users and for those who have it so that they are not afraid when trying to access health services," Swarbrick said.
"That calls for bluffing on the rhetoric of politicians who have talked about wanting to treat it as a health problem. That is what treats it as a health problem."
A report from the National Committee for Additional Care from 2011 noted that 50,000 drug users wanted help every year but did not get it, while a Ministry of Health survey found that 16.5 percent of drug users did not seek help out of fear of the law.
Politicians across the spectrum have called for harm reduction, and Swarbrick said the report was a call for them to "walk talk".
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government would make an announcement about synthetic drugs, which had been linked to 45 deaths last year, "soon".
But Health Minister David Clark said the issue of decriminalization would require time to be considered.
"Worldwide, there is some evidence that the approach to legalization or decriminalization has reduced hazards. We want to be careful every step of the way when we look at the problem … For example, we know we don't want children to access drugs.
"We will not rush to do anything."
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said every question about decriminalization must be submitted to the New Zealand public in a referendum.
"I think the ordinary New Zealanders have lots of ideas, and as much intelligence as possible, and as much experience as possible answering that question as the Narcotics Foundation, or even a Member of Parliament."
Official leader David Seymour said New Zealand must witness Canada's experience, where marijuana is legal, and Portugal, where drug use is decriminalized.
"This is a valuable debate because clearly too many people are harmed by drugs under the status quo.
"I think it would be better if the Government gets tax revenues from drugs rather than having half the police force running around in the bush looking for plants, but there are other aspects that need to be considered."