Jacinda Ardern admits cannabis use in heated New Zealand debate

Jacinda Ardern admits cannabis use in heated New Zealand debate

The prime minister of New Zealand has admitted she has used cannabis in the most robust and animated leaders’ debate of the election campaign so far.

The Labour leader and incumbent prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, met the National party leader, Judith Collins, in the TV3 studios in Auckland, in a one-and-half-hour debate moderated by Patrick Gower.

The energy levels of both leaders was significantly higher than in their lethargic first meeting, with both drawn into making admissions and promises they never have before.

Ardern promised to declare a climate emergency if she was elected for another term, eradicate child poverty and move towards subsidising sanitary products for girls and women.

Collins promised that if family members of abused children refused to participate in police inquiries they would face three years in jail. She also pledged to scrap the gun register and make sure every school in the country has a gender-neutral toilet.

Though both leaders had overlapping recovery plans post-Covid they differed significantly in many areas, including how to deal with the housing crisis, how to stimulate the economy and how to tackle climate change.

Asked how they would respond to gang membership growing 30% in the last three years, Collins said she would create a specialised “gang squad” while Ardern said the root causes of youth displacement and alienation needed to be healed first.