Data collection is incredibly poor in this area, so you're right that those two specific decimal points are not an exact representation of what is happening. Here's where I got those numbers:
The Ministry of Health reports that 400,000 New Zealanders used cannabis in the past year. Stats NZ put the total figure of ALL illicit drug use/possession convictions as the most serious offence at 513, the Ministry of Justice puts the number of CANNABIS use/possession convictions as the most serious offence at 1,105.
Unclear why the disparity given the Stats NZ data come from Ministry of Justice. No explanation was forthcoming from Stats NZ so I have reached out to the Ministry of Justice for an explanation.
But it's important not to miss the forest for the trees: even if there were 10,000 convictions (which there almost certainly was not), it would still only equate to 2.5% of users being convicted.
Also, what message does he think Parliament sends about alcohol?
This from Stats NZ: Last year, fewer than 0.13% of cannabis users were convicted for possession and/or use as their most serious offence.
This from Ministry of Justice: Last year, 0.28% of cannabis users were convicted for possession and/or use as their most serious offence.
If he's worried about sending a message, he probably shouldn't announce to the public that he's happy that police don't prosecute in the overwhelming majority of cases.
The logical inconsistency of "I don't want decrim but don't worry it's basically what we've got" is breathtaking.
Imagine hearing Key's comments and being one of the >1%. It's not only a stupid position to hold, it's just downright cruel.
Totally agree. The policy of police decriminalisation by stealth makes the law even more unfair for the very unfortunate few who do still get pinged. Especially because they're often people who are the least able to protect themselves against police discretion, as you say. The police wouldn't dare arrest Helen Kelly, despite the fact she's been quite open about her use. But some poor random is fair game. That shows how messed up the law is. And while it's good that decriminalisation is a reality for most users, there won't be justice until it's a reality for all.
It's worth noting that for an overwhelming majority of cannabis users, their use is de facto decriminalised.
Last year there were just 2,840 convictions for possession and/or use of cannabis. Compare that with the estimated 400,000 people who used cannabis in the last 12 months. Less than 1% of cannabis users in New Zealand are convicted in any given year.
So anyone who wants to stick with the status quo is fooling themselves: if you support criminalisation of cannabis, then you should campaign for the police and the courts to arrest and convict far more users than they currently do. If you support the status quo, then you essentially support decriminalisation.