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Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
LeaderMaki Herbert and Michael Appleby[1]
PresidentSteven Wilkinson
SecretaryIrinka Britnell
Founded30 May 1996
Headquarters66 David St, Dunedin
IdeologyCannabis legalisation
Colours    Green, black and white
House of Representatives
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Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP), also known as the Cannabis Party,[2] is a political party in New Zealand. It is dedicated to the legalisation of cannabis for medical, recreational and industrial use.[3] It was founded in 1996 and has stood in every general election since, but has never won representation in Parliament. Several of its members have gone on to political success after leaving the party.

Party history

Cannabis in New Zealand

Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in New Zealand.[4] Its use today is regulated by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, which classes it as either a Class B drug ("Very high risk of harm") or a Class C drug ("moderate risk of harm"), depending on the product or substance. From December 2018, the Misuse of Drugs act was amended allowing for much broader use of medical marijuana, making the drug available to terminally ill patients in the last 12 months of life.[5] Also in December 2018, the Government announced a non-binding referendum on cannabis for personal use, to be held as part of the 2020 general election,[6] though the final result was against legalisation.[7]

Party foundation and actions

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party was founded on 30 May 1996,[2] in Timaru.[citation needed] Michael Appleby led the party from 1996 until standing down in 2013.[citation needed] Currently the ALCP is co-led by Maki Herbert and Michael Appleby, with Steven Wilkinson as its president.[8]

The ALCP has contested all eight general elections held since its founding, as well as all twelve by-elections. The party has never won representation in Parliament.

In 2008, the party invited Dunedin South MP David Benson-Pope to join the ALCP, but he declined, saying, "Their judgement has obviously been impaired by their recreational habits".[9]


The ALCP's policies all relate to cannabis, hemp, or drug education.[10] These include legalising possession, growing and use of cannabis for those over 18, creating a 'medpot' card, taxing companies involved in the cannabis industry, removing the need for a licence to grow hemp, and funding drug education and research.

Members' success outside of ALCP

Two ALCP candidates went on to become Members of Parliament for the Green Party. Nándor Tánczos and Metiria Turei were both ALCP candidates in 1996; Tánczos became a Green MP in 1999 and Turei became a Green MP in 2002. Another ALCP candidate, Tim Shadbolt, has been elected mayor in three places; prior to running for ALCP in 1996 he was mayor of Waitemata from 1983 to 1989 and mayor of Invercargill from 1993 to 1995, and afterwards he became the mayor of Invercargill from 1998 until 2022.

Former president and deputy leader Abe Gray founded Whakamana Cannabis Museum, New Zealand's first and only cannabis museum, and has been a high-profile cannabis activist and protester for decades.[11][12] Gray is now a member of The Opportunities Party (TOP). TOP's policy on legalising cannabis has been praised by the president of NORML New Zealand, Chris Fowlie.[13]

Electoral results

General elections

General Election # of candidates nominated # of seats won # of party votes % of party vote
Electorate List
1996 4 19 0 34,398 1.66%
1999 11 17 0 22,687 Decrease 1.10%
2002 7 12 0 12,987 Decrease 0.64%
2005 6 13 0 5,748 Decrease 0.25%
2008 8 20 0 9,515 Increase 0.41%
2011 17 28 0 11,738 Increase 0.52%
2014 10 13 0 10,961 Decrease 0.46%
2017 6[14] 14[14] 0 8,075 Decrease 0.31%[15]
2020 9 12[16] 0 13,329 Increase 0.46%[17]
2023 14 16 0 13,021 Decrease 0.45%[18]

Note that the results for 2023 above are preliminary only, with special votes still to be counted.

The ALCP has nominated candidates for electorate seats in each election. No ALCP candidate has ever won a seat.

The best general election result was in first election in 1996 where it won 1.66% of the party vote. It won 1.10% of the party vote in 1999, but since then the ALCP has not received more than 1% of the party vote in any election.


By-election Year Candidate # votes % of vote Placing Result
Taranaki-King Country 1998 Michael Appleby 393 1.94% 8th National hold
Te Tai Hauauru 2004 Dun Mihaka 197 2.52% 2nd Māori Party gain
Mount Albert 2009 Dakta Green 92 0.44% 6th Labour hold
Mana 2010 Julian Crawford 112 0.48% 6th Labour hold
Botany 2011 Leo Biggs 61 0.40% 6th National hold
Te Tai Tokerau 2011 Maki Herbert 135 1.10% 4th Mana gain
Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 2013 Michael Appleby 176 1.57% 5th Labour hold
Christchurch East 2013 Paula Lambert 59 0.43% 6th Labour hold
Northland 2015 Maki Herbert 94 0.32% 5th NZ First gain
Mount Roskill 2016 Brandon Stronge 84 0.48% 5th Labour hold
Mount Albert 2017 Abe Gray 97 0.71% 7th Labour hold
Northcote 2018 Jeff Lye 89 0.42% 6th National hold
Tauranga 2022 Christopher Coker 117 0.56% 7th National hold
Hamilton West 2022 Peter Wakeman 76 0.50% 8th National gain

The ALCP has also contested many by-elections. Its most successful result was in the 2004 Te Tai Hauauru by-election. Only the Māori Party, the ALCP, and independents contested this by-election. The ALCP candidate, Dun Mihaka, finished second behind Māori Party leader Tariana Turia, receiving 197 votes (2.52%) to Turia's 7,256 (92.74%).

See also


  1. ^ "Party profile: Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis – NZ Election 2020". Archived from the original on 25 August 2020. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Register of political parties | Elections". elections.nz. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party". policy.nz. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  4. ^ Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy (2007). National Drug Policy 2007–2012 (PDF). Wellington: Ministry of Health. ISBN 978-0-478-30751-1. Retrieved 9 February 2017. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  5. ^ Ainge Roy, Eleanor (11 December 2018). "New Zealand passes laws to make medical marijuana widely available". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Binding referendum on legalising cannabis for personal use to be held at 2020 election". Radio New Zealand. 18 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Legal bid underway to dismiss cannabis referendum result". Stuff. 7 December 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Welcome to the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party". ALCP.org.nz. Archived from the original on 15 January 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  9. ^ Mackenzie, Dene (12 June 2008). "Party makes MP offer he can refuse". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Cannabis Party Policy". Archived from the original on 28 December 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  11. ^ MacManus, Joel (24 October 2020). "How Abe Gray became New Zealand's 'Gandalf of Weed'". Stuff. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  12. ^ NORML (25 September 2013). "Grand opening for New Zealand's first Cannabis Museum | Scoop News". New Zealand: Scoop. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  13. ^ Noller, Geoff (5 July 2017). "Cannabis policy: Too important to be left to the politicians?". Stuff. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  14. ^ a b "Information for voters – the who, when, and where". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  15. ^ "2017 General Election – Official Result". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Summary of Overall Results". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  17. ^ "2020 General Election and Referendums – Preliminary Count: Nationwide Party Votes – 100.0% of results counted". New Zealand Electoral Commission. 18 October 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  18. ^ "2023 General Election – Official Result". Electoral Commission.

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