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Drug charges could harm political hopes

Motueka Community Board member Tara Forde hopes the cannabis charges she faces will not jeopardise her political career.

Forde, 24, who has previously demonstrated in support of cannabis law reform, has been charged with possession of cannabis and possession of equipment to consume the drug. She is yet to enter a plea on the charges, which were laid on December 14 in Motueka. She is due to reappear in the Nelson District Court on April 13.

An upset Forde said she was still awaiting legal advice and did not want to comment on the charges.

She told The Nelson Mail she agreed with the Law Commission’s findings that criminalising people for the possession of a small amount of marijuana was not the best way to handle marijuana use in the community. “Living in Motueka, I think most people have come across cannabis usage and I think there’s some unhealthy usage of it,” she said.

“However, occasionally indulging isn’t the end of the world. I think I still make a decent contribution to my community.”

Forde said she did not want the charges to derail her political ambitions.

In 2007, Forde wrote about being part of International J Day campaign in Motueka for the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml).

She told The Nelson Mail her only involvement with Norml was to write two to three stories including another 2007 article about the legal growing of industrial hemp at Lower Moutere’s Riverside Community.

Motueka Community Board chairman David Ogilvie said he was unaware of the charges and was disappointed to hear of them.

However, he firmly stood by Forde whom he described as someone who was intelligent, hardworking and a person who made a tremendous contribution to Motueka and its community board.

Mr Ogilvie said he hoped the charges would not make a big impact on someone whom he believed had huge potential for a political career.

“I think this might be a pothole in a big wide highway.”

The charges might be a reflection of Forde’s young age, he said.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said he believed it would be up to the Motueka voters to express their view on whether they still had confidence in Forde.