Gareth Morgan has launched a stinging attack on politicians who slammed his call for cannabis law reform, calling their response an ignorant and knee-jerk reaction.
The weed centred war of words kicked off when Morgan visited Rotorua on his Opportunities Party roadshow recently and said their research indicated cannabis reform would be a key issue to get young people into the ballot box.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay labelled the proposal "ridiculous" and claimed it was proof Morgan "will do anything for attention".
Maori Party co-leader and Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell said that while they were open to a broader discission on cannabis law reform, "there are better ways to encourage young people to get out and vote than by dangling a cannabis carrot in front of them".
Rotorua Labour candidate Ben Sandford said that while they supported access to medicinal cannabis, he believed it was a generalisation that cannabis decriminalisation would prove a motivator for the youth vote.
Morgan's response to the criticism was emphatic.
"I expect nothing more from comfortable career politicians," he said.
"Obviously they are more worried about their jobs than they are about improving peoples' lives."
He said that while issues such as affordable housing, living wages and the environment were important, politicians should listen to any issue raised by voters.
"If enough people say an issue is really important to them, shouldn't politicians listen," he said.
"At least listen enough to go away and do some research on the issue. And that is what we are doing.
"There is actually plenty of evidence from overseas that if we do it right legalisation of cannabis can reduce harm, not least from unnecessary incarceration and recruitment into the criminal underworld that prohibition has fostered."
Morgan said the status-quo also had a disproportionate affect on poor people and Maori.
"The knee-jerk reaction from career politicians tells everyone they are ignorant, they simply haven't done their homework."